The lights are on
It may not seem possible to do a realism-based racing game on a mobile/tablet platform for a variety of reasons, but per its name, the Real Racing series has been trying to do just that. I played the latest in the series and tested out its racing chops.
I admit that I haven't played the previous games in the series or many racing titles on mobile/tablet, but I was very impressed with Real Racing's motion-based steering on the iPad (the game is available for iOS/Android/Kindle). Although there are other control methods, the motion-based configuration (where you move the iPad like a steering wheel) with manual gas and brake was my hands-down favorite.
It may sound like a gimmick, but similar to a racing wheel, the motion-based steering draws you into the experience by offering a wider range of physical movement as opposed to a simple, small analog stick. Unlike a racing wheel, however, I personally found it easier to visually set up my next turn. I think this occurs because your hands and arms are not automatically fixed in place in front of you. Although it can be disorienting at times to try and hold your arms out at a consistant, comfortable viewing distance and angle, being able to move your arms in free space makes it easier for your eyes to do likewise and scan ahead on the track instead of being fixated at a single point on the screen.
The steering controls translate pretty well to your cars' performance. The manual gas and brake controls sometimes lack finess since they are binary on/off touchscreen commands, and you don't get rumble feedback. However, overall Real Racing 3 mainly feels and handles like you'd expect from a non-arcade racing game. It will be interesting to see how some of the higher-end rear-engine, rear-wheel drive cars handle with all that power at your disposal.
In standard sim fashion, the game's races are broken up by car classes as well as special series dedicated to specific makes and models. The game's 46 cars are bought and upgraded with in-game cash you earn from events, and you can earn this and other race rewards (gold coins and fame) by re-racing events if you must. Real Racing 3 is the first in the series that is free-to-play, but that in turn makes it advantageous to pay real money for some in-game items. Gold coins are earned as you level up your driver through racing, and these can be spent to speed up the amount of time it takes to perform repairs and to have the cars you've bought delivered to your garage (yes, that's right). The time these tasks require increases during your play session, and can range from minutes to hours. Gold can also be used to pay for some cars, paint jobs, and to unlock race events if you haven't won enough trophies already to do so. While I like that you have to both repair your car's damage after races and perform service maintenance at regular intervals, it's too tempting to spend gold coins in lieu of waiting. Of course, gold coins, in-game cash, and combo packs including cars can be bought for real money in the store. Whether this freemium setup is annoying is up to you.
Another new feature for Real Racing 3 is the asynchronous multiplayer, dubbed Time Shifted Multiplayer. This means that even though your friends and other players will run their own races separate from you, they will populate your events and vice versa. But instead of being ghost cars or times on a leaderboard, they are fully interactive cars on your track that respond to the happenings of the race as they occur. While it's impossible to tell exactly how closely these populated cars replicate the runs of real-life players, it's a cool feature that feels natural on the track.
Real Racing 3 is a top-to-bottom realistic racing experience, but the game does deliver a solid experience on a tablet that satisfies more than a few racing urges.
Real Racing 3 is out now.
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I got Need for Speed: Most Wanted for my Kindle Fire and boy was it garbage. This on the other hand might be worth looking into.
Has some appeal, but not much.
The Real Racing series is one of my favorite racing series on any platform, and I'm downloading no (slowly) with high hope, but I'm very afraid that EA may have ruined this with their stupid freemium model. Firemint did an incredible job with the first two games, so I'm fairly confident those will still be the high points for the series.
So do you race through 500 laps, eh?
Looks... average. Might appeal to mobile gamers.