Review - Real Racing 3

Posted on March 21, 2013 - 7:00pm

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Real Racing 3 has been the latest microtransaction-heavy, mobile game to come under fire for supporting a pay-to-win model. While the idea of someone spending upwards of $500 to dominate the franchise may sicken you, the cost is at least equal to the gain. So what it really comes down to is the quality of the content and for racing fans I have good news -- it isn’t half bad.

Expectations for what a mobile device can handle graphically are ever evolving. It is because of games like Real Racing 3 that I still think mobile gaming has a place in competition with the handheld console. Everything about this game looks great. With real-world tracks, car models that show damage, and wide-open spaces; it is hard to complain about a few visual faults. That won’t stop me though.

On an iPhone 4, the frame rate will drop out on occasion, especially during a 16 car Club Race. I know the iPhone 4 is two year-old hardware, but I doubt Real Racing 3 will run effectively on anything less. Car customization is also limited to a paint job, causing the game to lack a bit in the personality department. Due to the free nature of the game, ads are pushed heavily throughout the experience, especially in the Main Menu. Then again, I’ve spent hours playing a game that hasn’t cost me anything.

Yes, at its core Real Racing 3 wants to be the ultimate racing sim for your mobile device, and getting it won’t cost you a dime.  While a free game is a wonderful proposition, it also has to be fun. The fun in Real Racing 3 has very little to do with graphical fidelity and more to do with capturing the sensation of racing around a track. The fact is, there aren’t many mobile games that do a particularly good job of this. Real Racing 3 on the other hand does so beautifully, recreating the sensation of racing through world famous courses like Laguna Seca with ease.

For a game that tries to make the racing sim approachable to everyone, they also do a wonderful job of immersing you in the environment. It builds tension in much the same way a proper racing game might. Using licensed cars and tracks helps, but the mechanics are fantastic for mobile devices. By default, acceleration is handled entirely by the game itself, leaving you in charge of steering and braking. The game responds to your movement with little effort, minimizing the amount of tilting required to slide your car around a corner. The brake is activated by tapping anywhere on-screen, but by default the game will also handle this.

While the hardcore racing enthusiast may scoff at the lack of precision in the controls, the sacrifice does little to hurt the overall experience. In fact, there are options to turn off the Auto-Brake, Traction Control System, and Steering Assist for those only interested in a challenge. You can also switch between a variety of touch controls, but I preferred the gyroscope. Races are categorized into series which have four cars available in each one. It creates a staggering, near-thousand available races but the car limitations hurt your enthusiasm. Its rigidness goes against another important feature in racing games, diversity.

A class limitation on cars makes perfect sense, after all a Ferrari racing a Ford Focus wouldn’t be much of a fight. Real Racing 3 on the other hand, takes this one step too far to accommodate the microtransactions. As you race a car, it will experience wear on various components, causing downtime between races. You can use Gold to speed up repairs, but that would run out quick. This is another currency in addition to R$, so it becomes a bit of a “time is money” situation. It really takes away from exploring all the cars available, motivating me to get the most bang for my buck. Upgrades are incremental and necessary as you get further in a series and compete against friends.

Real Racing 3 uses the Time Shifted Multiplayer system, populating the races with asynchronous ghosts that include your friend’s times and make for a much more dynamic set of races. You have a level mechanic that can take you up to 1,000 in addition to the aforementioned thousand races available in over 46 cars. Look, for a free game, Real Racing 3 is incredible, but it still has a few shortcomings.

Real Racing 3 promises racing fans an authentic experience on the track. It looks great, feels great, and is easy to play with friends. The downside is that the microtransactions are pervasive and they limit the exploratory aspect of the cars in a racing game. Hate on the pay-to-win model all you want, but that won’t change the fact that Real Racing 3 is a fun drive for fans and easy for anyone to get into. If you have a mobile device that can play it, I say give it a try.

Above Average

6 - Above Average6s have good ideas, but may not be executed the best. It can be enjoyable by certain circumstances or fans, but may feel shallow to most.

ScrewAttack's News Director Sean Hinz worked in logistics for over four years before decided it was time to switch industries. After a couple years spent getting an MBA and freelancing, he finally found a home at As far as games go, Sean likes to play anything he can get his hands on, but especially enjoys third-person action RPGs. Is that really a genre?

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