Earlier today, we broke down what the free to play model in Real Racing 3 is going to be like. Love it or hate it, it's there, but I think Firemonkeys have done a pretty good job at keeping the freemium aspects out of your face, and won't be limiting your ability to play with hard paywalls. Shockingly, I even found myself somewhat liking managing all the different repair and upgrade systems in a sim-game kind of way. Of course, I was playing a development build of Real Racing 3 with everything already unlocked and a limitless amount of in-game currencies, so I'll have to reserve final judgement for when I am able to play through my own, fresh retail copy of the game. I'm hopeful, though.

But hey let's talk about something else for a change, eh? Like the actual game itself. In the simplest terms, Real Racing 3 is everything you know and love about the series but improved in every possible way. Foremost is the game's visuals. The Real Racing franchise has always been on the bleeding edge of technology, and this third entry takes things beyond what even I thought was possible. This is quite simply the most visually impressive mobile game I've ever seen. So with that, let's jump straight into a video of the game in action.

In this first video of Real Racing 3, I let lead designer Ptolemy Oberin take the wheel to give me a demonstration. He is much better at this game than I am, so that seemed like a good idea. In it you can see Ptolemy peruse his collection of cars, pick a V8-specific muscle car race (I'm told he is fond of the Shelby GT 500), and then complete a full 3-lap race. During the race you can see all the different camera angle options in action, including the impressive interior camera with real-time rearview mirror. The race that follows takes a more exotic turn with the Lamborghini Murcielago on the Silverstone course in England. It's a bit longer course, and Ptolemy dominates the majority of it, so I cut it short after the first lap. Check it out.

The fact that the developer dominated the latter portions of that race brings up an interesting thing about Real Racing 3. As has been talked about before, the game uses something Firemonkeys has branded Time Shifted Multiplayer. It collects the data from other players' performances and then bases the AI opponents around that data. It's sort of like racing another person's "ghost" data, but that data actually has a dynamic AI that mimics that player's tendencies and can react to the game in real-time as you play against them. It pulls that data for all the AI opponents from a mixture of strangers as well as friends through Game Center or Facebook, and it even stores this data locally so you can race against those players' times offline if you wish.

Since Real Racing 3 isn't out yet, there's a pretty small player pool of data to pull from, and yesterday many of the lap times being recorded were from fumbling journalists like myself who were just playing the game for the first time, and weren't breaking any records or anything. This AI difficulty will constantly be scaling to fit your own style and skill level. So as you improve at the game and get into situations where you're dominating the competition, next time around the game will pull data from players with better scores for you to compete with. It seems to work really well, and should scale to all manner of player skills from the extremely casual to the hardcore.

In this next video, I jump into Real Racing 3 on one of the demo iPad 3 units. The game runs like a dream on the powerful iPhone 5 in the video above, and I was curious how it would behave on the iPad 3 which many believe is underpowered for what it needs to be capable of. Well, it runs pretty darn smooth, actually. There were definitely some stutters here and there, but overall it looked and played great. Firemonkeys has tried hard to support devices as far back as is feasible, with the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2 being their target low-end devices. Following release they may even be able to get the game working on older hardware, but no guarantees.

Back to the video, here I jump into a race with a production-level sports car, the Nissan 350Z, and take it through an entire lap using the interior camera view. This camera is easily the most interesting and detailed, but also the hardest one for me to use. Following that I give my Nissan a quick paint job and add some upgrades so you can see how that works, then I jump into a more exotic race with a McLaren F1. That particular race is knockout style, where every 20 seconds the person who is in last place gets eliminated from the race. Miraculously, I managed to outlast my opponents.

Some of the more back-of-the-box features in Real Racing 3 include things like 46 real-world licensed cars, more than double the amount that shipped with Real Racing 2, as well as real-world licensed courses and locations. On top of that there are already plans for more of both to be added via free updates during the game's lifespan. There are also a whopping 900+ racing events of various types, including the knockout style one from the video, head-to-head races, drag races, and more. Oh so much more. This game should keep you busy for ages.

We'll get into even more of the nitty gritty of Real Racing 3 as its February 28th release date approaches, but from my few hours of hands-on time this week I came away really impressed with what I saw, and perhaps more importantly, I'm absolutely dying to play some more.

  • Madison

    THey should have let you play the retail version. Check the iApp wall. The freemium impact on this great franchise. The waiting time for repairs unless you buy in game currency. THAT is going to be THE topic of discussion when this will hit the App Store.

  • Apegoat

    It doesn't seem so bad, but in every review I've seen so far, the user has over 4 million "R$" and several thousand gold coins. Presumably, normal users are not going to start off with that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Hopper/1238691947 Paul Hopper

    Would be hilarious if your friend logged in later in the day to the following message "Welcome back, -friendsnamehere- beat the living hell out of your bmw all afternoon in the racetracks. It will take 20 minutes for you to be able to drive this car... oh and here's -friendsnamehere-'s insurance information..."

    heehee

  • http://twitter.com/Klazuz Klas Segeljakt

    It would be cool to see a side by side comparison of Real Racing 1, 2 and 3 so that the graphics can be compared

    • play_nate

      I'd like to see this as well. These are some of the best looking iOS games.

  • Doctorossi

    It looks beautifully like 'Forza for Phone', but it's too bad I have to weigh the appeal of the visuals against what I know will be an irritating (probably game-breaking) paywall/cooldown-timer experience. If they provide an IAP method to "pay in full" for $5-10, I'm in. Otherwise, I'll look on from afar at a pretty engine and what could've been.

    • Texazzpete

      It's a FREE download. Not sure what the whining is for when you can check it out without paying a dime

      • Doctorossi

        So, apparently, expressing a different opinion than yours is "whining". If I'm "whining" it's because I want an enjoyable game, not a free one. I don't care if they pay me a dollar to play it when the game's design is actively frustrating me with delay timers while I'm trying to enjoy it.

        You get what you pay for and I was really hoping this would be a game that I would get a fair amount from after paying a fair amount. As it is, it's basically broken and I can't really enjoy it at any price, which is a shame because the actual racing engine looks so nice.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Your concerns are valid, but I've been trying to tell people to wait before writing it off. It's premature to just call it broken when you haven't played it. You might be pleasantly surprised with how unobtrusive the freemium aspect is.

        Or, it comes out and it's terrible, and in that case you don't have to play it. C'est la vie. But at least give it a shot first.

      • Retero

        Good point. Play then make your decision

  • play_nate

    I don't usually play driving games but since this will be free to try, I'm definitely going to download it. I think a free-to-play version is pretty appealing.

    • MrAlbum

      Ditto. Never really understood the other 2 titles, I hope this one succeeds in that regard.

    • err404

      Sure, free is great I'd you don't care about the game. It's the genera fans that are willing to pay who get screwed out of a good game.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Unfortunately, the "general fans that are willing to pay" are an order of magnitude fewer than the people who would rather just download a free game and pay as they go.

      • Dams

        Usually... You target fremium users because your only goal is making money.

        Knowing it's an EA game, i would vote that one.

  • 1Fcm

    Im excited for this. FREE means I can try it out and see if I like it. If I enjoy it then I can contribute through IAP.

    • MidianGTX

      That's what lite versions used to do. Like, actually free. Then, if you enjoyed it, you could buy the full version that wasn't custom-designed to swindle more money out of you than you initially would have paid.

      • 1Fcm

        True, I agree.... but this way, I get the full game if Im willing to grind my way through it. Lite versions only gave you a taste and then you were forced to fork out real cash if you wanted more.

      • Rothgarr

        Personally, I couldn't stand having multiple versions (lite/full) of the same apps cluttering everything up and having to download the game yet again. But people also seem to lose their minds when they download a game that says "Free" and they are asked to unlock the full game after a certain number of levels.

      • Adams Immersive

        I predicted that the single-version model would take off: a game is free, then you pay if you want the full game. ONE download. ONE icon. ONE version for developers to maintain and update forever... ONE set of reviews... and your progress from lite/demo mode carries right on through to the full game seamlessly.

        Good for gamers, good for developers. But it never took off! People have some psychological hang-up.

      • volcanopele

        I never understood why. I have no problem with that type of IAP. What you download for free is the demo and you pay IAP to unlock the full game, no different from buy a game outright, but in this case you can try before you buy. Magic 2013 did that pretty well I think.

        Now, while I have been down on this news, I will say this. If the gold coin IAP is pretty generous, such that $10 worth of coins is effectively an unlimited amount of gold coins, I think I can live with that since that's about what I would be willing to pay for is game if it were a premium game and that would allow me to not worry about gold coins anymore.

      • http://twitter.com/iseptimus Paul

        Thing is, if you lose your save and delete the game, when you reinstall you will have lost that $10 investment. I bought IAP once for Reckless Racing 2. Never again. Lost my save so lost the upgrades and cash.

      • rogel5

        I don't pay because it doesn't give me ownership. I own plenty of apps that have been removed from the App Store (some of them Apple didn't like, or changed the rules, some removed by developers due to licensing issues or a change of company) - but I can keep them all (not on icloud, on my own disks) and install them when I like. Even many years hence, should I choose that

        If I own an IAP it's just a consumable. That license is on someone else's server and may be gone on a whim. Therefore I only buy the full price versions of apps, never the "upgrade to full version from within" variants.

        But that's just my psychology, I don't expect everyone else to follow it...

      • homosaur

        Yeah, excerpt for that's not happening. Ghost Trick did that, and it was fine. What people have a problem with is this cool down and wait or pay BS which gives you nothing permanent for the money. It's like an arcade but 50 times shittier because you can't talk smack or have burn outs buy you smokes.

    • Adams Immersive

      I don't think people should be universally opposed to all IAP as a means to pay developers for their work and creativity, and the devil is in the details, which can be hard to judge without playing.

      But here's a good rule of thumb I use for starters: pay-once IAP? Reasonable—really, the same as an expansion pack or an upgrade to higher version of the app. CONSUMABLE IAP? Now you have me worried!

      In this case, the distinction would be: pay once for a new car you keep forever? OK maybe. Pay to repair a car, and then those coins are consumed and you must pay again later for more repairs? Not interested.

      And using a delay to make paying optional is irritating. I've played games (and not paid) where I didn't mind that, but they're the exception. It's like adding something unpleasant to intentionally make the game less fun, and you can pay for a temporary reprieve. That's the stick! I'd rather they sell me a carrot.

      • toxiccheese

        This is the part that bothers me as well. Will the wait for repairs be annoying? Will the game be generous and make the IAP optional only for those who are looking to ramp up quicker? I think it will do well regardless.

  • http://twitter.com/piyushr21 Piyush

    this is going nowhere i thought iphone was taken seriously as a handheld console but after this :( i cant say anything , its not only developer fault but fault of consumer because there are more casual players than hardcore player who loves intense gaming , storyline , rich graphic and no fucking disturbance of IAP . if every developer continue this way , ios will not be taken seriously at all as hardcore console handheld everyone will just release a freemium game with no story , no extensive graphics , no new mechanics , no hardcore gameplay , there will be only IAP in the game. i know real racing 3 has great graphics and extensive gameplay but it will not give the feeling as a gamer which two previous game did give

    • MrAlbum

      Definitely a doomsday scenario. Which means what will ACTUALLY happen will not be as bad, since achieving perfect destruction is impossible for humans. Everything we do is imperfect, so I'm pretty confident that we won't take things THAT far.

    • homosaur

      It's called console/PC fella, plenty of hardcore gamers and games out there. But you have to be willing to pay which seems like something a lot of readers have issue with.

      • pauldavidmerritt

        iPhone could have been a fantastic mobile gaming console! BUT--iAP's and Freemium crap, 96 per cent of these releases, are an absolute JoyKill to us gamers. Honestly, I'm surprised so many gamers out there [unless they are trolling--are you?] have anything good to say about this iAP, money-swindling fad. It's a hot and ugly trend for game developers to dip their keyboards in!

  • http://www.onebagtravel.com/ OneBagTravel

    The game could be the best iOS game and even make me a sandwich but I will refuse to play it based on their freemium system.

    • Adams Immersive

      I won't refuse to play it... I'll just refuse to pay.

      Which means, if the delay bothers me too much, I'll move on to another game and keep this one as a fun tech demo.

      (Of course, EA is hoping to hook me... you never know!)

    • homosaur

      And THIS is why IOS continues to be casual only

      • pauldavidmerritt

        No. This is not why iPhone is a casual gamer. It stays casual because developers can spend WAYY less time making more money on titles. CASUAL titles. iAP's/Freemiums--do you get it? Do you get it yet?!

  • MidianGTX

    What came first, AI that ignores the player and gleefully smashes into him, coincidentally setting off an IAP-related chain reaction when it comes to repairing the car... or the IAP, which they then scuppered the AI in order to make more prevalent?

    I'm a fan of clean racing, but it looks like I'm being hung out to dry with RR3.

    • MrAlbum

      Then again, how often to cars smack into each other on a real-life race course? Seems like a viable tactic within legal parameters, so I would think a title called "Real Racing" would also give its a.i. the same tactics.

      Whether or not this results in overblown IAPs hasn't been tested yet. Your concerns could be valid; they may not be valid. Only thing to do is wait and see.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Joshattew Joshua Attew

        Infact I go to actual racing events (mainky gt3 events) and i see atleast 3 crashes in each race whether it be a car flipping over, hitting a barrier or a huge collision, ea are just money grabbers!

      • MidianGTX

        In these cars? Very rarely. There are -plenty- of racing sports that discourage contact and even for the ones that don't other drivers will still adjust their driving line when they see your intentions. Being aware of other cars is realistic, and so many games disappoint in this area.

  • chriscambell

    I'd love to hear a bit about what the control scheme is like.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      Pretty much any option you could want, from auto braking and steering assist options, tilting, virtual steering wheels, touch controls, etc. Basically everything, and although I don't usually love tilt controls in games they're fantastic here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.bohanna Peter Bohanna

    Can someone tell me how much space it will take up? RR 2 took up 1gb..anyone know the size of this one?

  • King Random

    Looks pretty good for a free game with awesome graphics (although in my opinion, Infinity Blade 2's graphics are still the best :P).

    Surprised and impressed with the low device compatibility as well!

  • B3nlok

    What it looks like so far:
    Physics looks very RR2ish. Simplistic, unified, no sense of unique feeling of cars, no understeer-oversteer. Tracks feel flat and cars seems glued on it.

    Freemium quality right here.

    • B3nlok

      On a more positive note, very nice and relaxing opening music.

  • http://twitter.com/tognesimo Simone Tognelli

    Most Wanted has a better graphic than this,too much clipping!

  • menom

    Oh dear - sadly the video confirms fears.

    Looks technically brilliant - but you could see in first video that he didn't have enough power to win the race and at the end - after repairs are made the option to upgrade car is given with the message 'you'll do better if you upgrade.'

    Unfortunately CSR racing was the proof of concept and it's made the devs a packet - been in top 10 or 20 highest grossing games for months and months.

    Same scenario here - unless you pay you cannot win (yeah I'm sure they'll allow you a few wins early on to keep your interest but you can bet the coding is clever enough to make you feel you have to pay for upgrades.)

    It's all about the money folks - fun doesn't even come into it.
    Sadly it's bound to do well as there are enough mugs in the world to fall for this sort of crap - you only have to look in the nearest betting shop to see that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nikus2k Nuno Lourenço

    I like what I see,will be my next vicious daily.

  • B30

    Freemium = the plague of videogames

    • Awesomenessprime

      Babies whining about games before they try it and acting as if the world is ending because its not what or how they want it = real plague of video games.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Hopper/1238691947 Paul Hopper

    I fully expect that despite the ranting and raving 90% of the complainers are going to play the game, decide that its not an intrustive iap, decide that they like the management between vehicles of the repair system but in the end never ever come back to toucharcade and recant their previous whining about a system they havent used yet on a game not out yet from a developer that has a track record thats always been loyal to its fans.

    If this turns out to be a solid non intrusive free to play game that dosent rip everyone off there should be a thread set up on touch arcade that reads "Post here if you unnecessarily bashed a deveoper for making a good game before you even played it."

    • Rubicon Development

      That already exists. It's http://www.toucharcade.com

    • pauldavidmerritt

      Yea. Right. We all know what's coming to us. Have you been paying attention to the GROWING Freemium industry, and how it's quickly getting worse? Don't be fooled, and don't misguide us. Please!

  • Deonaldi

    EA + FREEMIUM = Terrorism + Real Racing 3 awesome gameplay and graphics = Money Racing 3

    • Deonaldi

      Correction: I changed my mind, I quess it not so bad after seeing that trailer :0

  • sourabh2504

    Need this game now. Hope it runs Good (OK) on my iPod Touch 4G :)

  • err404

    The write-up mentions good iPad and iPhone support. Is it confirmed whether the game has iCloud syncing.
    BTW I'm excited for the real tracks. Suzuka Circuit looks great but I didn't like the routing at Casio triangle that cuts out the S curves. I hope the full track is in the game too.

    • err404

      For that matter, what about cross platform syncing and play against Android devices?

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Not sure about iCloud but it does have cross platform play with Android. About the tracks, they have multiple configurations of all of them so the thing you're looking for is most likely in the game, though I'm not familiar with it myself to confirm :)

  • emberblue

    Any idea how this will (if at at all) on the ipad mini?

    • nomster

      It will be expensive

  • fransoccer

    Oh EA you guys :)...... Yall are so good at ruining small franchises that you guys deserve a trophy for all your hard work to think of how to make an awesome game shitty!

    • B30

      EA already got the Platinum Trophy in ruining video game franchises, they got that trophy years ago.

  • ScarAce1989

    Graphics and details doesn't seen to be very good.

  • hellscaretaker

    You lose 1.4mph if you don't repair your wing mirrors!!!! Give me a break then again maybe some driver tell me different and that is the normal?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Hopper/1238691947 Paul Hopper

      aerodynamics, mirrors are curved naturally for good air flow. smashed ones? yea i can see a loss of top end.

      • septimus

        You wouldn't lose that much speed.

  • http://twitter.com/iseptimus Paul

    Seems as though its designed to make you repair with the random harsh and unnecessary breaking by the AI so you slam into them. Bloody EA, and Fire Monkey for bending over and accepting that decision.

  • magicplums

    The one thing i really want to know is.....

    ......will the game run while not being connected to the internet?

    I played RR2 to death on a flight one year. Most games with IAP wont allow you to play while not connected. I really hope this isn't the case, or that you have to spend real cash getting enough credits up together so you dont run out.

    Just a thought.

    • Jfilesguy

      Oh no! Now I have another bad thought to think about with this game :o

  • tecno_byte

    Most impressive mobile game... ever!

    • pauldavidmerritt

      I give you a huge negative vote, based on trolling or ignorance.

  • http://twitter.com/PSNHotwire Hot-Wire

    Oh man... it ain't just for repairs... there is a timer for buying upgrades too....

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Hopper/1238691947 Paul Hopper

      repairing, buying equipment and buying cars. realistically all three take time in real auto sports. solution? never sell any of your cars and just hop in to another while the parts/repair completes.

  • Jfilesguy

    Okay, let me say one thing... Freemium isn't bad!
    Taking a beloved premium game series and plopping freemium onto it=the death of the beloved franchise, but tons of $$$
    It's happened before; Zenonia 4, Dungeon Hunter 3, The Sims FreePlay (granted, I still hope for a full version of The Sims 3 will come to iPad, but with this making all the money, not happening,) and the sadly cancelled Rolando 3, which was killed because the freemuim model wouldn't work, but no attempt at releasing it as a payed game (shame, a new Rolando would be incredible.)
    I love a good freemium game, Tiny Tower, Pixle People, Punch Quest, Jetpack Joyride, Temple Run 2, Hero Academy, The Blockheads, and The Simpsons Tapped Out are all great, but by taking out features from the previous games such as live multiplayer or quick races, it will kill the franchise. EA is not evil, Freemium is not evil, it's just they do not know how to work together. Real Racing 2 will become a timeless classic, the iOS equivalent of Super Mario 64 or Pokémon Gold and Silver, as Real Racing 3 sucks up money. Will still buy, and enjoy, but this is more like "Real Racing: FreeRush" than a true next version

    • homosaur

      Yeah EA is definitely still evil, freemium is only a symptom of that.

  • Gamer_Kev

    While like other fans of this series I'm not too happy at them turning it into a freemium cash grab, I've noticed that the whales sure are. It seems like anytime someone who would rather pay for a decent gaming experience instead of dealing with timers and pay walls voices their opinion, the whales start crawling out of the woodwork calling them whiners. Funny how a lot of these people you never even see around under other conditions.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Hopper/1238691947 Paul Hopper

      The difference between the 'whales' and the 'whiners' is that the 'whales' can change their mind after playing the game, you know after it comes out. The 'whiners' kick in negatively well before the games release and even if the game turns out really good the damage of their 'whining' is already done.

  • HCastle23

    It looks fairly good, as many people have mentioned, I do feel a little worried about how the gold coins will be distributed, but it seems like it isn't too bad (in the beginning). I will give this a chance despite my earlier hesitations and probably when the official review comes out and the game is released, it'll be more flushed out. I do hope they have cloud syncing since I do enjoy taking a race on the go from time to time.

  • Furtin

    The framerate drops nearly on every corner and the game stutters. Is nobody else seeing this?

    That said: it looks gorgeous.
    But than: its a racing game that wants you to wait because its freemium...

  • http://twitter.com/sabin1981 Sabin Figaro

    Hurr Durr. We iz supporting iPad 2 as low-end device, iPad 3 stutters and is an aliased ugly mess, hurr durr. Our grand master overlords EA demand that you buy iPhone 5s in order to play properly. ROFLOLZ.

    Yeah, I'll pass thanks. What's the iPad 2 version going to look like, Ridge Racer PS1? Thanks but no thanks, I'll stick to Real Racing 2 that still looks awesome and, oh yeah, isn't an IAP-riddled whore.

  • pauldavidmerritt

    I do not agree to an agonizing death to anyone, but anyone that does support this dick move, Freemium money cow, needs to just move on to playing Four Square. Or, maybe making balloon animals, knitting a sweatshirt. If YOU help these developers continuing the iAP plague--stop. Stop it! Now! The MORE you buy from this crap, the LESS they will come out with really great games. Geeze. Stop playing games like you're a twelve yr. old using mommy and daddy's credit card.

  • http://f1archives.com/ Gregz0r

    I must admit, I'm a little disappointed by the video.
    It looked like RR2, only with real-world tracks instead of fake ones.
    Freemium is never something I participate in, but for every one like me, I'd bet there are literally thousands who will participate, unfortunately. :/