App of the Week: ‘Real Racing 3′

Real Racing 3” is the first entry in the series from EA’s newly formed Firemonkeys studio. It’s also the first entry in the series that’s free-to-play. The game introduces 46 licensed cars to the franchise, eight different race types and over 900 events for players to compete in, and it was released for Android and iOS devices today.

One of the most interesting new features introduced in “Real Racing 3″ is Time Shifted Multiplayer. If your device is connected to the web, every race will see you competing against AI-controlled “time shift” doubles of your Game Center or Facebook friends, along with other players from around the globe. In my experience it’s a feature that makes winning races that much more fulfilling.

There’s no denying the free-to-play model has had loyal Real Racing fans a bit worried since it was announced for “Real Racing 3.” However, EA has said that in-app purchases will only ’accelerate” the experience, and players won’t have to spend money to progress. Like many free-to-play games there are multiple forms of currency. R$ is the in-game loot used to upgrade and repair vehicles. Gold coins, on the other hand, are used to speed up upgrades and repairs, and unlock race events that haven’t yet been unlocked by progressing through the game.

To put things in perspective, I raced in 3-4 events and earned enough dough to buy each of the Tier 1 upgrades for my vehicle. From there I had to wait two minutes for each upgrade to “install,” which wasn’t a very big deal. Cars will also need service after they’ve spent some time on track. Oil changes, for instance, take five minutes to complete, though 2 gold coins will finish it instantly. I’m sure as time goes on, and better cars and upgrades are unlocked, things like this will take a bit longer. This is where EA and Firemonkeys will be testing your patience, and your wallet.

There’s also the matter of persistent car damage. Each time you cruise of the track, slam into a barricade or side-swipe an opponent your call will take damage. Too much damage has the potential to affect your car’s performance. However, your vehicle can be repaired after each race, and repairs didn’t seem to require all that much R$. Again, this will probably change as you unlock better (pricier) vehicles, but the amount of in-game currency you win for later races is also likely to increase as long as you place well, which brings us to controls.

Unlike some mobile racing games, the default controls in “Real Racing 3″ won’t have you touching any on-screen buttons unless your hitting the brakes or changing the camera angle. When the race begins your car immediately begins tearing down the track, all you have to is tilt to steer and pump the brakes when it’s time to turn. For newcomers, it’s easy to pick up and play. Of course, Real Racing veterans, and those of you looking to gain more control over your virtual vehicle, have several control schemes to choose from, along with the option of adjusting driver assists like traction control.

In line with previous entries in the series, “Real Racing 3″ looks great, and the fact that it’s free-to-play really opens the door to anyone with the slightest interest. If your looking for a great mobile racing experience, featuring real cars and real tracks, Real Racing 3 is the obvious choice.

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