Real Racing 3 Review

The Real Racing franchise has been a tentpole fixture on iOS since the platform’s inception. With a bounty of licensed cars shredding up the most realistic tracks and vistas, we have always come away extremely satisfied with the end product. Real Racing 3 is the latest edition, and it’s published by Electronic Arts for the first time. With EA’s strong performance with their free-to-play model across games like The Simpsons Tapped Out and The Sims FreePlay, we’re not shocked Real Racing 3 is following suit. With a feature set that promises to be the biggest simulation racer to date on iOS, we anxiously checked under the hood of Real Racing 3.

The amount of content in Real Racing 3 is simply staggering. By our count, there are over 960 events to race in, spanning cup races, eliminator races, speed runs, drag races, endurance races, head-to-head match ups, and more. The events are organized in various racing series based on the specified eligible cars. Speaking of cars, there are 46 of them to collect and add to your garage. This year’s version features the most exotic options out there like the Lamborghini Gallado, Bugattti Veyron, McLauren F1, and the Audi R8. These mechanical titans are fierce, showcasing a flagrant sense of speed in any camera angle. New to the franchise are some of the elite racing tracks around the world. You’ll get to test your mettle on the famed courses of Silverstone, Hockenheimring, and most notably Laguna Seca. The number of races to complete in Real Racing 3 is daunting; it’ll take you dozens of hours to see everything.

Real Racing 3 sets a new bar for visual excellence on iOS. The game shines brightly with rich and sharp visuals, fully taking advantage of the Retina displays on the iPhone 5 and new iPad. There are fully modeled car interiors, real-time environmental reflections, lens flare effects, convincing dust-up transparencies, and countless other details that create a realistic world to race in. We streamed the game to a large 60” HDTV using Airplay on an Apple TV, and it can almost pass for an Xbox 360 or PS3 game. Big kudos to the team at Firemonkeys– all we can do is praise the meticulous work they’ve done on the entire visual package.

As expected, the actual racing feels superb. The cars feel substantial, the response to braking is satisfying, and the sense of speed is always there. Real Racing 3 encourages simulation style racing, as playing this game like it’s Need for Speed will leave your car severely damaged and underperforming. For the first time, a major emphasis is being put on repairing your cars after races. You have to pour virtual cash and gold coins into fixing damaged bumpers, shattered windshields, and broken taillights, to name a few repairs. Additionally, you have to micromanage elements like changing engine oil, tuning transmissions, and replacing tires. With races featuring upwards of 22 cars, it is a guarantee that you’ll be spending lots of time and virtual cash on repairs and tuning.

On the topic of virtual cash, it is important to look closely at the free-to-play model of Real Racing 3. Built from the ground up as a free-to-play game, Real Racing 3 implicitly and explicitly asks for your money, frequently. We do not doubt it’s entirely possible to experience everything in the game for free, but you’ll pay a heavy price with your time to get there. Whether it’s purchasing vehicles, repairing your cars, or earning access to a new series to race in, the game always has its proverbial hand out.

The cash and gold coins you earn from victories are not nearly enough to fund the purchase of new cars in a reasonable time period. In fact, the victory purses you earn are barely enough to upgrade your current car’s specs and fix repairs. The aspect we suspect will really annoy players is the mandatory wait time you have to endure while your car is getting repaired. For example, if you want to repair your engine, you must wait 15 minutes or cough up 4 gold coins to expedite the repair. If you think that’s bad, try tuning your suspension and waiting 45 minutes before you can race again. We understand that developers need to include hooks to encourage in-app purchases, but the structure here is outrageous.

Real Racing 3 touts what it is calling “Time-Shifted Multiplayer,” their spin on asynchronous multiplayer action with your friends and the larger Real Racing community. In playing series events, the AI field is populated by the avatars and comparable racing skill of others also playing the game. The execution is solid, as you can see Facebook profile pictures hovering over each car. When you earn a gold trophy for finishing first, you can compete against people on your friends list by replaying the event. You earn extra cash bonuses for beating your friends, which is great considering how expensive the cars are.

This is all well and good, but it doesn’t come close to replicating real-time online multiplayer. Perhaps the team at Firemonkeys has data and metrics from prior games suggesting resources should shift towards asynchronous play instead of realtime online gaming. In any case, we’re not particularly thrilled with this model, especially since it does not capture any head-to-head statistics or online records.

Deciding on a recommendation for Real Racing 3 was one of the toughest calls we’ve had to make in a long time. Our heads tell us this is unquestionably the biggest version of Real Racing ever. It features next-level stunning visuals, dozens of cars, hundreds of events, and authentic tracks backed by its signature refined racing action.

But our hearts tell us that the business decisions made to suck iTunes accounts dry from purchasing in-game currency and wait-busting gold coins should never be advocated. To put in perspective with how ridiculous Real Racing 3’s economics are, there is a $99.99 option to buy five million dollars of in-game currency. Even with that much virtual cash, you could not buy all the cars in the game, much less bypass all the mandatory waiting. All things considered, we’re going to side with our hearts on this, as perceived value does play a big role in a recommendation. The reality is that Real Racing 3 is a high-profile business experiment gone wrong.

  • PBLC ENMY

    I completely disagree with this review. Ive had the game for some weeks now and after you get the second car, it’s all good. I give the game a 3.75 out of 4, with the only reasons being no direct multiplayer(online or local) and no quick race to practice on tracks and try out cars, cause even gran turismo and forza have that. Btw, you can’t race the care when it’s in repairs, but apparently you can race it while its being upgraded, it just won’t have the upgrades effect until the time is up for installation. I’ve completed over 200 races and currently own 8 cars, including a Porsche and a mclaren and I’ve spent $0.

    • http://twitter.com/Shawn_Leon83 Shawn Leonard

      We’re glad you’re enjoying the game.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000692961277 Andrew Smith

      Your are obviously an EA associate/staff member

  • Runnygnome

    Gosh, STP just hates everything, don’t they? I wouldn’t mind you guys stating your opinions, even if those opinions be flawed, but every time you publish a bad review like this, it negatively affects the meta critic of the game, which is extremely annoying to me when that game is actually good. Just like you did here and with Year Walk.

    • Saansilt

      Dude if the IAPs are insane than it doesn’t desrve a high metacritc. Rhat site is rigged anyway. Sides, you are minding their opinon by hating bad reveiws.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000692961277 Andrew Smith

        Here here…. And rigged? Rigged to the hilt. Read my comment a few up… Games rigged, TSM is rigged and the App Store reviews….. You bet ya, RIGGED.

    • http://twitter.com/Shawn_Leon83 Shawn Leonard

      We gave the first two games in the series “Must Have” ratings, so your premise about us hating everything doesn’t hold water boss.

      Regarding Metacritic, we don’t give it a single thought. Our job is to report our honesty to you, our readers. That’s all that matters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian-Woodward/652923975 Ian Woodward

    or you just unzip the hack and switch out the document file of the game to get over 2000 million gold and R$. See my youtube

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000692961277 Andrew Smith

      Absolutely, hack works, makes life more tolerable owning everything yet you can’t help but think….. When spending unlimited $$ and gold to keep the cars running that it would be absolutely impossible to do this any other way.
      P.S. TSM is a scam

  • M M

    Thank you for your honesty STP. I have to agree with this review completely. The FTP model is simply garbage and greedy and ruined the game.

  • http://twitter.com/Zghying John Dickerson

    Funny one site gives them 4 out 5 and everyone says to high. Here its 2 out of 4 and its to low.

  • Calum Stewart

    Shows what happens when EA get their hands on a perfectly good game!

  • apolloa

    The best review, totally agree. I got it on my iPhone 5 but thought as the graphics are no better then Modern Combat 4 deleted it and stuck to the game on my Nexus 7, it’s not very good, nice interface and gameplay but when you look around the game it stinks of being a thief ready to steal. I mean £95 for the top IAP and to buy the Koenigsegg will cost £65!!! Jesus!
    But i am not worried abut RR3, really don’t care, but what DOES worry me an awful awful lot is that EA are behind this atrocity and they have now announced they have full plans to integrate micro transaction, (IAP) systems into EVERY GAME THEY WILL SELL! Which means console, PC, mobile! So you will pay £50 for BF4 and yet be charged for in game purchases!

    I think EA are going to single handedly destroy the games market. I hate them fot his, truly truly hate them!
    And it’s easy to say to people don’t suport it, unfortunately if you look at the Google Play store and Apples App store, pretty much the highest grossing games are ALL free and use IAP systems, their are plenty of idiots out there fully supporting the IAP business model.

    • http://twitter.com/Shawn_Leon83 Shawn Leonard

      CliffyB wrote a great editorial on his blog the other day talking about micro transactions. While I don’t agree with all of his commentary, I share the notion of voting with your wallet.

  • waxthirteen

    All depends on your portable gaming habits I suppose. I find myself playing a race or 2 whenever I have a free minute. By the time I have to “wait for repairs” I’m usually ok with putting the game down. It’s my phone. That’s how I game on it. Your mileage may vary… Pun intended!

    • http://twitter.com/Shawn_Leon83 Shawn Leonard

      Everyone’s mobile gaming habits vary to some degree, but being asked to wait nearly an hour to pick the game back up is excessive irrespective of one’s play style.

  • Sawa98

    The review failed to mention how utterly boring this game is. Authentic be damned, “Real Racing 2″ was a lot more fun to play. I wasn’t particularly fond of the freemium choice, but it didn’t hinder my decision to give it a whirl. As for the “console quality” visuals…meh. I think iOS has seen plenty of console quality; I would hardly call this a colossal leap above its predecessor (not like it was from part one to part two). I don’t think even REAL CARS are THAT reflective.

    • http://twitter.com/Shawn_Leon83 Shawn Leonard

      Respect the viewpoint, I think the game is a blast to play. I just wish I could play it on my own terms instead of being nickel-n-dimed and waitgated.

  • Chessman

    My thanks STP as well. From what I know this is app which is one of the most corrupted by in app purchases. Personally I think it should get 2/4 because of this.

  • JoelSixPack

    I’m not too far into the game yet, but from my experience so far, I have to agree with this review. If only they could have offered a $10-$20 IAP that just removed all the freemium stuff, I would have gladly paid for that (but I’m dreaming)…

    I’m curious, has anyone done a side-by-side comparison with an iPad mini and one of the more powerful iOS devices like the iPhone 5 or 4th Gen iPad? I have an iPad mini, and while the graphics in RR3 look great, they don’t seem much better than the graphics in RR2. Can anyone tell me if the there’s a big graphical difference?

    • http://twitter.com/Shawn_Leon83 Shawn Leonard

      Can’t give you that comparison, I reviewed the game on a 4th Gen iPad and an iPhone 5

  • http://www.facebook.com/TokyoDan Theron Daniel Huffman

    Why I’ll probably delete Real Racing 3

    I don’t know about you but I get the feeling that Real Racing 3 is cheating and using trickery.

    For example I found myself in a race with my friend in which we were the only two in the race. Now although I kept catching him in the corners he was able to constantly pull way ahead of me in the straights and ultimately win the race by a good margin.

    Now we both drive the Ford Focus. But my Focus has all the initial upgrades while his Focus has none. So how is it that he can pull so far ahead of me in the straights. That has nothing to do with skill and has everything to do with horsepower.

    This is why I think that Real Racing 3 is boosting the time-shifted opponents’ cars abilities unrealistically in order to push us a little closer to upgrading, running out of winnings, and ultimately having to use IAP to upgrade.

    I think every race we compete in is a staged con job and has noting to do with true real-time multiplayer with nowhere near the real results we see in true real-time multiplayer.

    Back to Real Racing 2 for me.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000692961277 Andrew Smith

      It’s a scam. You’ve been had my friend

  • Rothgarr

    Weird. In the Penny Arcade forum we were saying how awesome this game is how none of us hit a paywall or can even see a paywall on the horizon. It seems that so long as you have a few cars (i haven’t done upgrades yet) then the waits are no big deal because you simply use another car for another series of races. If you are used to any console racing game you know there is some grinding to earn cash to buy cars and games like Forza also have IAPs for car packs (which you still have to earn in the game even though you paid for them). Never have I been short of cash yet, always having enough for repairs and maintenance all while adding to my savings for new cars (about to buy my fourth ride, Viper baby!).

    Honestly, I think EA screwed themselves because I don’t see ever needing to use the IAPs. The could have gotten $10-$15 out of me if it was a paid app.

    After reading all the venom on the net I was fully expecting to hate this game. I’m glad I downloaded it because I’m addicted to it and love it.

    But I do miss the replays from previous versions. And I wish you could play it on a TV like previous version, too…

  • Greed Corporation

    This game is the best racing game ever so far in IOS in terms of graphics, sound, gameplay and controls. Firemonkeys raised the bar in IOS gaming. There are still a few moments I get “wowed” and sometimes I cant believe that I am playing such a good game – on my mobile phone. I love the way the driving feels than gran turismo in ps3, even the sound of the engines. Very well done Firemonkeys. I didn’t really had a problem with the game although yes, when I saw the price of the IAPs, I thought these guys are desperate! and stupid as well because I was ready to shell out 10-15 $ just to get this game but I got it for free. Thank you EA for this sweet, excellent, almost perfect and best of all, free game! Definitely a must have!

  • IpadGamer

    Let’s see – I can grab Penumbear, with has some positive reviews coming in for a puzzle/platformer (one of my favorite genres), and it costs $1.99 total. Or I can freely download RR3 (which is also one of my favorite genres) which is riddled with Freemium IAP’s.

    Easy choice for me. I’ll gladly pay money one time for a game, and if I enjoy it, pay for some expansion packs. But this freemium model is just awful. If I had the option to buy it for 6.99, or even 9.99 without all these IAP’s I’d consider it. But at this point, I won’t even waste my hard drive space downloading it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000692961277 Andrew Smith

    1: never on a racing game or for that matter any game seen so many perfect face pics as users/people with kids on their lap/photos of women and I’m not being at all sexist. All 3 add up to WTF.
    Also, this racing against your “so called” friends. None of which I think I’ve competed against in other games.
    I am of the belief that these notifications are a way to sway you to race the tracks you have already done as a means of more wear n tare on your car, hence spending money. I know for a fact I have been told many times that a “friend” has beaten my time and to race against him. NO WAY. This is misrepresentation and fraud in my view. Noticed their posted time has on many occasions been over what mine was after I started keeping notes.
    Finally, you used to go to reviews and when list most critical – it’s shows 1 or maybe 2 then in the same listing their all 4 & 5 stars.
    It’s rating is artificial.
    I have posted this comment on their app review and they refuse to publish it. Personally, I think they write their own reviews on the app site.

  • scottttttttt

    Played this game for over a year now. Spent more than my share of ‘micro transactions’ (whatever the heck that is) in real dollars. Been a loyal promoter of the game, but then a few weeks back, Firemonkeys changed the rules. There was a level that if you made it to, that you could actually accumulate enough gold to buy a top car or make a top upgrade…though still needed to play about an hour per 50 gold. Not an insignificant amount of time considering the car values I’m talking about are in the 400-900 gold coin range and upgrades in the hundreds.

    Firemonkeys didn’t like this new reality that THEY created and we played, so they cheated. Changed the rules in the middle of the game so it is now virtually impossible to get close to finishing the last few levels without spending hundreds of dollars in real money, or playing for hundreds of hours.

    So, quit while you are ahead. Enjoy the game up to the point where you need to spend only gold coins on cars or upgrades and then ditch it. Time to move on. You’ll never complete it, so don’t bother. Firemonkeys doesn’t care about their customers, so this customer for one will avoid anything produced by Firemonkeys. You’ve got my money, but not a penny more.

    Most importantly, go rate it where you downloaded it. My satisfaction level is at 1/5.

  • scottttttttt

    Boycott and rate at iTunes and Google Play