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Real Racing 3 (Worldwide Release) Review

By , on February 28, 2013
Last modified 1 year, 7 months ago


Real Racing 3
Download on the AppStore
3 out of 5

PROS

  • Control options in all the flavors you could ever need; from Arcade-like simplicity, to Sim-like complexity and a good range in-between.
  • Smooth, detailed graphics makes immersion easy.
  • 46 cars and 961 events to compete in; you'll be busy for days, weeks, months.

CONS

  • IAP model drives a wedge between the player and the content; designed to cut the player off no matter what they do - even if they are a paying customer.
  • 'Time Shifted Multiplayer' opponents not normalized enough to ensure smooth progression; players can be robbed of podium spots (or of a satisfying victory) due to over or under geared opponents.

VERDICT

Real Racing 3 is a true 'Jekyll and Hyde' - one moment you're lost in the majesty of throbbing engines, squealing tyres and exhaust fumes as you tear your way around a track... and the next you're staring at a ticking timer, waiting for a chance to get back in to that dream-like head-space and delay the inevitable wait for a moment longer.


  • Full Review
  • App Store Info
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Editor's Note: As of the 28th of February the game is live across the world. Updates to the game have resolved minor bugs, however most importantly at the time of this writing 'repairs' no longer take time to complete. You'll still be considerably out of pocket, but it will put you back on the road sooner after taking unavoidable damage (such as from a TSM-controlled AI driver). Despite this the core problem afflicting RR3's playability remains in-tact; the game is devoid of meaningful progression. Not once is the player treated as though they're on a journey wherein their skills are tested and must improve to move on. Instead you either win, or you lose and even when you lose you're still afforded the chance to move on - it's a hollow victory no matter how you look at it. If all you want from a racer is a series of beautiful real-life track replicas and vehicles to race in, then you can't beat RR3's free pricetag, but ultimately it's as fulfilling as pushing matchbox cars around a felt floor-mat.

With the rise of - and burgeoning prevalence of - newer, more insidious IAP payment models, I feel this review should come with a strong disclaimer.

If you love racing for the sake of racing; if fine tuning lap times in gorgeously crafted replicas of famous tracks, in gorgeously crafted replicas of famous vehicles is your 'thing', then Real Racing 3 is the bargain of a lifetime. For absolutely no entry fee you can enjoy everything the game has to offer as long as you're willing to suffer the 'cost' of waiting for the game to once again give you control.

Beating at the heart of Real Racing 3 is the fire-baptized, fuel-powered, engine-throbbing heart of a magnificently presented racing simulator. Difficulty scaling ranges all the way from casual, almost 'Arcade' like handling, to tough-as-nails simulation where every control you need is placed at your fingertips. While true multiplayer is currently (and understandably) absent from the game, the AI is directly influenced by your friends on Gamecenter and Facebook (as well as a smattering of other random players).

Dubbed 'Time Shifted Multiplayer', the end result is an always changing, always unique race experience. However, it has its downsides; notably you have no real control over who you're paired with and while you'll often find yourself amongst the company of peers, you'll occasionally be thrown up against seriously under-geared or worst of all, over-geared opponents, destroying the flow of progression entirely.

However, I've danced around the issue for too long. While the heart of RR3 may be that of a thoroughbred racer, it's surrounded by an all but impenetrable IAP system designed to exact payment from the player over and over again. Much like a 'Freemium' title, almost every ancillary action you take requires a combination of basic in-game currency and either time or 'gold', the game's 'premium' currency.

Just purchased a car? You'll have to wait for that to be 'shipped'. Need to juice up your car to keep up with the competition? You'll pay and wait for that too. So far, so normal, but the rabbit-hole goes deeper.

Damage you sustain to your vehicle in a race is considered persistent and will carry on between races. The damage directly affects the performance of your vehicle, so you'll want to fix it as soon as possible... only you'll have to pay, and yes, wait for the damage to be reversed. Oh, did I mention that repairs are carried out sequentially and not in parallel? For every piece you repair, the repair time total is increased.

... But wait, there's more.

All of this could be forgiven if the cash-flow was enough to support smooth progression. Sadly, the anemic rewards make it hard to keep a single vehicle at a competitive level, let alone the running costs of repairing said vehicle as well. It doesn't stop at maintenance either. Vehicles must be bought to participate in 'Showcase' matches (if you don't already own them), and simply using your vehicle will eventually require top ups on engine oil, replacement brakes/tires and so on.

As mentioned in the disclaimer, you can forgive all of this if you're patient, but the fact remains that even those who choose to cough up the cash will be nickle-and-dimed in to spending their premium currency until they're back to square one. It's no wonder full multiplayer features had to be left off the table - as it is having your face melted by a 'TSM' boosted AI from a player who has paid their way to a better vehicle can cheat you out of a podium position; to have to play against a 'pay to win' player in real time would be crushing.

There's a pervasive sense of being able to look, but not touch. This is a game that says 'wouldn't it be great to enjoy all of this?' and then makes you wait, albeit a nominal time, but wait none-the-less. You could spend all day racing at lower tiers and attempt to avoid collisions, but you'd still be forced to 'maintain' the vehicle at some point, cutting you off from the gameplay. You could race another vehicle, but you'll only burn through your resources twice as fast, once again cutting yourself off from the flow of progression.

Despite the brilliantly implemented controls that provide an almost visceral level of feedback; despite the sharp, industry leading graphical technology that has to be seen on the best iOS devices to truly believe them; despite the incredibly engaging 'Time Shifted Multiplayer' concept making the AI feel better than ever; all of this is undercut by a need to force the player to stop playing and open their wallet.

Ultimately the IAP model drives a wedge between the player and the game on offer. If Real Racing 3 has anything to offer, it's a kind of martyrdom. For a game considered to be one of the major releases of the year to fall so low shows just how toxic this kind of game implementation has become.

Screenshots

Screenshot 1 of 2 Screenshot 2 of 2

Comments

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theanimaster 1 year, 7 months ago

AppSpy usually gives great reviews, but they've bombed this one. I've been playing RR3 for hours now and I'm hooked. The pay+repair+wait system works and does one thing: IT MAKES YOU USE ALL YOUR CARS. So there IS a sense of satisfaction when you've pushed each of your rides to the limit. And when you do -- by that time you'll have made enough for a new ride. That's how it's working for me.

I made my own review over here (http://theanimaster.deviantart.com/art/Don-t-diss-Real-Racing-3-just-yet-357460151) , explaining how to make sense of what RR3 is all about. You just need to play it... and quit thinking about getting THE best car -- focus on the game!

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andrew 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm glad you're getting a personal level of satisfaction out of the game, but my point has never been about longevity of play. Rather it is the way the timed aspects act as a non-player derived break in the gameplay, and the utter lack of distinction between victory and defeat in the racing of the game - you progress regardless of whether you're paired with over or under equipped opponents, and your position is rarely tied to skill; out gear them and your odds are improved.

I respect people's enjoyment of the game, especially as it's a high quality product being offered for free, however there's no reason to lower the standard of what's acceptable or what we define as a game just because it had a large development budget.

Now as to your review I might point out a few fallacies you're perpetuating:

1) 'Start slow and learn', 'Drivers level up', 'Fastest isn't always great' - there's literally no incentive to play slowly other than to prevent spending more cash on repairs or new vehicles. This is due to the TSM system that pairs you with opponents of your level (the game doesn't get harder, it just matches you with people it considers your 'relative' peer) resulting in vehicles that wildly range in power. You wonder why the faster vehicles are so fast/skilled? They're not, they're just packing more heat than you; you never had a chance from the moment you loaded the level.

2) 'cars don't go in all events' - this could have been a blessing if not for the curse that is the 'show' races where you're forced to eventually fork out for all four cars. It _could_ have just been a level where you get to experience the feel of a different vehicle, thereby tempting you to purchase it over the one you currently use, but they don't - you have no choice. Get everything or don't complete the challenges on offer.

3) 'What's missing' - replays would be nice, but you know what would be even better? AI and the restoration of player driven choices. You lamented that RR2 allowed players to save and purchase new cars instead of upgrading them, but they didn't have to - upgrading was still an option and allowed you to leapfrog vehicles while remaining on-par with those you were racing against. Finely tuning how powerful each vehicle is in each race meant you had to work for your victory if you only just met the minimum requirements or had the option to wait it out and upgrade to lower the challenge - it was consistent and so your victories meant something... you either had to improve as a driver or earn that upgrade to make headway. Once the single-player aspects are locked down, the rest can fall in to place. Replays are nice to show off, but until they have meaning attached to them beyond 'hey, I got lucky in this one race, let me show you!' then they serve no real purpose.

For a game that had years of development and demonstrated a far deeper and complex social system during that development, the end result looks and feels like an amateur's attempt at recreating a masterpiece. You can still enjoy what's on offer, but there's a vast empty distance between the game that is and the game it could still easily be.

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mono 1 year, 7 months ago

This is, indeed, a review that doesn't just praise the game entirely just because of the graphics or worse, its legacy and fanbase. Instead, it just nailed the words on explaining the game and IAP mechanics. Meanwhile, I even saw articles trying to explain why the freemium model used in RR3 was fair. Really?

I am a huge fan of Real Racing 2 and having played Real Racing 3 was a disappointment until now, exactly as shown by appspy. Keep up with the spot-on reviews guys!

PS: Have you seen that EA tweaked the waiting times today? before, repairing a single part took around 1:15 min, now it takes around 20s; oil changing went from 15 min to 5 min, engines went from 3h to 1h. Although not ideal, this is already a change WE, AS PLAYERS, DEMANDED! KEEP PUSHING GUYS!

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Jastootie 1 year, 7 months ago

ahhh I can't wait for the industry to shift back to using the preemium model instead of the freemium. I think it'll take a while for most consumers to first be aware of the freemium model, then to understand it, and finally to prefer spending an initial amount of money for an entire game, instead of paying little by little for a game to trickle down its content and access to gameplay. But I think it'll take a while. I'd rather pay 5$ for this game...maybe even 10$, then be stuck with having to pay for everything in game.

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xavier 1 year, 7 months ago

aaaand I know how to play without waiting ;-) http://youtu.be/wYu1ryYmDgs

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Jack57 1 year, 7 months ago

Cheers xavier - this 'cheat' at least makes it tolerable for the moment. Makes you realize how much better this will be if be if they just delete these pointless wait times and just charge a once off fee for the game.

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Jack57 1 year, 7 months ago

Oh for goodness sake! Admin please rectify this for me! :)

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Jack57 1 year, 7 months ago

This is just so devastating. On the one hand when a brilliant little sim for mobile devices which on the other hand has been neutered by the IAP system. What were they thinking?!?!?! ....that gamers would be saying 'how cool is this - it's so realistic that I have to wait an hour while they change the engine, awesome!!!" We can only hope that this 'soft' release was to gauge the community reaction and that they will drastically modify it by the full release. This still could be GOTY as the core sim is brilliant. Just fix it! :)

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psychofunk 1 year, 7 months ago

So disappointing! I'm a huge sim racing fan, so I was really looking forward to this release. IAP and DLC are really wearing me out as a gamer!!

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xavier 1 year, 7 months ago

And it is without appletv support!! It is just mirroring on airplay! http://youtu.be/QAReiSzqdCo

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stooney 1 year, 7 months ago

Thanks Andrew for telling the truth and not rating it a 5, "just because it's RR3"
I really wanted to like it, despite the Freemium aspect but sadly it's a total FAIL in my book.
Wait times are ridiculous and spending real money will only get you so far until you have to pay again ... with no end in sight!
What have they done to THE anticipated release of 2013???