Get behind the Real
A couple of days ago Nigel and I headed down to EA Mobile’s offices in the swanky part of London to check out the Real Racing sequel we’ve all been slobbering over, ‘Real Racing 3’. An EA rep talked us through the main highlights and their aim in making the ‘Wickedest racing game ever’ (slight paraphrase), showed us a demo on a huge 64 inch screen (‘That’s a big iPad’, I thought), and gave us plenty of time to get to grips with what is surely one of the most highly anticipated iOS games in recent memory.
There were plenty of devices strewn across our table, so I began with a pad and Nigel grabbed a phone. What’s immediately obvious about RR3 is it’s scope; EA’s focus is on real cars, real tracks and real people. There are a serious number of events on offer, as well as a chunky number of cars and customisation options. Indeed, on first glance you’ll either be intimidated by the sheer choice, or feel like a kid in a candy store…or a bull in a china shop, or something.
Real cars come in the form of every Porsche, Audi, BMW and Lamborghini you can think of (46 in total), and each of those cars can be upgraded till your heart’s content. Fancy pimping out your exhaust, drivetrain or suspension? What about tweaking your tires, ECU or taillights? Do you even know what an ECU is? Then yep, this is for you. It’s basically auto-porn. Real tracks include Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Sedona Raceway. Real people include whoever’s on your friends list, but we’ll get to that later.
The other thing you’ll notice is that RR3 is moving us ever closer to console standard visuals, and everything does indeed look shiny, slick and sexy. The EA Rep even pointed out one of the sexy beasts (the cars, not other EA staff) and explained the tire and wheel portion is made up of 600 polygons, which is the same amount as an entire car in Real Racing 1.
Indeed, pitting RR3 against EA’s own Need For Speed, which was only released in November, and which I quite rightly gushed over, it’s amazing to see how much improvement there is. I switched over to the iPad version of Need For Speed for some reason or another (can’t exactly remember why) and felt as though I was playing a game from 2010. No joke. Real Racing 3 is looking rather delicious.
Interestingly where looks are concerned, you’ll definitely notice an increase in sharpness and an overall tighter feel on the phone versus the pad. It’s pretty obvious this is because of the iPhone’s smaller screen and subsequent increase in resolution, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. One of those times where size does matter I guess. Although by the same token, even though gameplay is fine, the options tend to get a little cramped on the smaller screen. Pick your poison.
Where your friends list is concerned, it’s all about TSM, which stands for Time Shifted Multiplayer. It’s almost a mix of live and asynchronous. The game saves each race from previous players, so that when you enter, your rival racers are actually made up of the recorded performances from a handful of similarly-rated gamers. Not exactly real time, but could you tell the difference if I didn’t point it out? No.
And finally, yes, RR3 is adopting the freemium model…wait, wait wait, don’t close the page. I know some folk are up in arms about this, but you’ve got to give it a chance. I can assure you that it’s not the type of game which force you to pay in order to progress, and after that, how bad can it get? Your actions in each race affect your car (basically, you’ll crash a lot – with real time damage modelling), and as a result you’ll have to repair your car for optimum performance. Repairs and some upgrades take time to deliver, but can sped up with coins. That isn’t so bad is it? I promise this isn’t Final Fantasy, and remember, that wasn’t even free.
The game drops Feb 28th on the shores of our Sceptered isle. If you’re in Asia or New Zealand, you’re probably playing it already. Yes, a whole two weeks before us Brits. Lucky sods.