Oh how I wanted to love this game. I really, really wanted to love this game. I love racing games. I thoroughly enjoyed Real Racing 2. When Real Racing 3 was announced last year, I practically wet myself in excitement (okay not really). And you know what? Real Racing 3 is a fantastic game.
Or, it would’ve been. But EA decided it would be a good idea to develop this game with the “freemium” model in mind. When I saw its release a few days ago on the App Store and Google Play, my heart skipped a beat. Then I saw it was free and my heart skipped another beat. Oh no, I thought.
But I downloaded it anyway, both to my Nexus 7 and iPhone 4S. I loaded it first on my Nexus 7 and started my first race. So far, so good. I’m racing around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in a tuned up Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The graphics are lovely, the sense of speed is good, the physics and handling are good, it controls well and everything seems to be going smoothly. At this point, I’m introduced to the game’s Time Shifted Multiplayer system, which is a rather brilliant form of asynchronous multiplayer. If you’re connected to the internet, every one of your opponents will be a ghost of a fellow player, so you’re racing against the best times of real people, which makes for some very fun races.
And then, everything goes downhill in a hurry.
You’ll pick your first car and then it’s off to the races. Say you get into a couple of fender benders during said race but you go on to win anyway. You’ll receive some credits and a repair bill for the damage done to your car. You can ignore the damages if you wish, but your car’s performance will suffer. It’s a rather brilliant system that always keeps you wanting for more cash. After all, if you won $3,000 worth of the game’s currency but had to spend $2,000 making repairs to your vehicle, it’s quite difficult to save up for that $176,000 SRT Viper or $187,300 Audi R8 V10, isn’t it?
Some might argue that this is incentive for you to not damage your car. Fair enough, but after a few races, you’ll likely have to service your engine, brakes, suspension, tires and/or oil too. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yes, the parts listed above degrade over time and eventually, they’ll need service. Hope you’ve got the scratch. And if you don’t, I’m sure EA will be happy to help you with a fat wad of in-game cash…as long as you’re willing to part with a few bucks worth of real money.
Oh, and every time you install an upgrade to your vehicle or decide to service one of the aforementioned parts, you’ll have to wait. Usually about 5 minutes. But don’t worry! You can skip those pesky wait times with gold tokens. The ever cancerous but highly effective method of preying upon those with too little patience and too little restraint found its way into Real Racing. This is a racing game, a title that lives and dies on its gameplay and the waiting periods actively take you away from the actual racing! But I’m sure EA won’t mind if you’d like to pay them a few bucks to keep your token stash topped up in order to give the boot to those pesky wait times.
The moment I saw just how shady these in app purchases were, everything fell apart. It’s virtually impossible to progress at a decent pace without succumbing to parting with your real money for Real Racing 3’s in-game currency. But I refuse to be scammed like that. I will not invest a single dime into a game that so shamelessly goes about ripping people off.
What frustrates me most about Real Racing 3 is how good this could’ve been if it weren’t so riddled with microtransactions. There are the makings of a great game here; the physics are great, the graphics are excellent, the selection of tracks and events is superb, the assortment of vehicles is fantastic and the Time Shifted Multiplayer mechanic is innovative and clever. But this is all for naught, as one has to wade through a sea of in app purchases and pace-breaking waiting times in order to get to them.
The more I think about what could’ve been, the more disgusted I become with what is. Real Racing 3 could’ve been the be-all, end-all in the portable racing space. But it isn’t. As it is, it’s a thoroughly disappointing travesty of a game that could’ve been a showcase for everything right about mobile gaming but instead ends up being a perfect example of everything wrong with it.
- Looks Nice
- Great physics
- Interesting asynchronous multiplayer
- Nice selection of vehicles
- Microtransactions ruin everything