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.