Real Racing 3 Review: Visually Jaw-Dropping Free Download that Plays Great… but with IAPs
Might as well come right out and say it—we’re nowhere near the first to review Real Racing 3, and by now you’ve heard time and again about how fantastic this game looks and how the gameplay is nearly-flawless… Well, we’ve finally played through Real Racing 3 and can say that it’s all true—it really does look that amazing and it’s that awesome to play. So rather than hit on those points for the umpteenth time, we’re going to focus on the real gamble Firemonkeys took with RR3 and try to determine whether or not it worked.
… But before we move onto the freemium model and how it works with IAPs and timers, it would be shameful not to mention some of the elements that make RR3 fantastic and an obvious recipient of 4-star-and-up reviews. It must be nice to be Firemonkeys and have two previous installments to build on, both already featuring some of the best visuals we’ve ever seen on the iOS platform, and great controls to boot.
Using the Mint 3 engine, Firemonkeys polished the graphics to an unbelievable degree, and then added in even more great vehicles from makers like Porsche, Lamborghini, Dodge, Bugatti, and Audi. Of course, those cars are no good if we don’t have awesome places to race them, and RR3 doesn’t disappoint there, either. We get to take these dream cars out on tracks like the Mazda Raceway, Laguna Seca, SPA, Silverstone, Hockenheim, and more… Don’t view yourself as a professional racer capable of handling these cars and courses? They’ve got you covered. Options like steer assist, brake assist, and traction control let you focus on simply tilting your device, if that’s all the farther you want to go… On the other hand, taking full control of these beast vehicles has never been more fun than in RR3, and time-shifted multiplayer ensures that you and your friends can share in the greatness of this game, even from a distance—and at different times!
Given the infallibility of almost everything about Real Racing 3, we’re left to nitpick over how Firemonkeys went about making it available to the public. Instead of, you know, selling it to us like how we got the first two installments, they went with a freemium model that comes with many strings attached in many ways. Depending on what type of gamer you are, the model will take effect in a different manner. It’s safe to say that casual racers are the most agreeable to the timers and IAPs that govern how much and how often RR3 can be played without pouring in real money. The hardcore, however, are rubbed the wrong way when—after a few aggressive run-throughs—their hard-earned vehicles are damaged to the point where they can’t continue without waiting for the car to get repaired, or making it happen instantly with an investment of real money.
We quickly see how such a model might benefit Firemonkeys. You make a game as great as this one, why not put out a model that blows the roof off a title’s max possible profitability? That’s how IAPs work in general, but the envelope is pushed when timers enter the mix, as you run the risk of frustrating a racer early on and causing him to put the game down for good.
So, the game rocks—no argument. But does the distribution method work? We’ll let you answer that for yourself based on how often you STILL play the game (months after release) and whether or not you feel your investment of real dollars has severely damaged your lifestyle and most important relationships… We do know this—Firemonkeys broke the mold by making a game this good available for free, and we’re glad the experiment happened. Whether or not their future releases follow a similar model should indicate just how well it worked for them. IAP annoyances and timers aside, the App Store would be a better place if the “Top Free” chart was populated by more titles of this caliber, and personally, I’m willing to put up with freemium “restrictions” to see that happen.
Our Score: 4 out of 5
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