Sorry, Fastlane. Move over Asphalt. Stick to your cut scenes Need for Speed. The best iDevice racer is here, and it’s Real Racing. It’s safe to say the Firemint’s simulation racer was well worth the wait.
There are five racing modes in Real Racing: career, quick race, time trial, local wifi racing, and league racing. Career is the meat of the game.
Events are spread across three car classes: Hatch, Sedan, and Muscle car. Each class of car handles radically differently, so there is plenty of value in competing with each class. Before competing in the circuits for each class, you are required to complete a time trial lap.
Depending on your time, you can unlock the C difficulty for each event. If you don’t make it in the bronze time, you must try again before moving on. Each class of car has two circuits, each of which are comprised of three races of varying length.
If you get gold on a circuit, you unlock the next difficulty level. All in all, you can test your skills in 57 events in the career mode. In addition, earning various awards in career unlock new cars. There are twelve cars for each class, for a total of 36 cars. Some hardcore console racing fans, however, might be disappointed at the lack of upgradeable parts for each vehicle.
Quick race, obviously, is the mode if you just want, well, a quick race. Time trial lets you improve your fastest lap times on whichever courses you have unlocked, and you can compare your times online with the Cloudcell service. In local wifi racing, you can compete with your friends over a local wifi connection. League racing is definitely a unique game mode.
Using Cloudcell, you join an online league and compete in timed events. Your times are compared to other users in your division, and you are ranked according to the fastest time. If you do well in your division, you can move up to higher divisions with more skilled racers.
Overall, the actual gameplay is fantastic. Real Racing, as a simulation racer, has something no other iDevice racer has: it feels real. There’s really no other way to describe it, but the grip, break, acceleration, turning, and the sense of speed all feel incredibly accurate.
The AI is really what pushes this game over the top. The AI racers, in all difficulties, are not just there for show to line up at the starting line and then follow the same line the whole race. The AI play like other human racers, and they will happily crash into you if it gives them edge. While playing, it is hard to believe they are not human racers. They force you to adapt your strategy- you have to look out for them when you’re ahead and jostle with them when you’re behind.
I only have one minor complaint about the AI: sometimes they’re too aggressive. Because there is no limit on the amount of damage a car can take, they will continue to crash into your car, or even wait until you’re starting a turn and then knocking you off course.
The controls are highly customizable, and there is a setting for everyone. There are four main control options: accelerometer steering with auto acceleration and manual brake, accelerometer steering with both manual acceleration and braking, touching the screen to steer with auto acceleration and manual braking, and touching a virtual steering wheel to steer with auto acceleration and manual braking.
Of these, I preferred control set B, the tilt steering with manual acceleration. The tilt controls are very responsive and accurate, and feel like using a console steering wheel. There is also an option to customize accelerometer sensitivity. Another great option is brake assist. Brake assist, depending on the degree to which it is chosen, slows down your car a certain amount before curves.
This is great for beginners just learning to steer, but in order to beat most events, you will need to turn the brake assist down as it slows you down a lot. There is also a rearview mirror, which is activated by pressing the top center of the screen. However, the rearview takes up the whole screen, and whenever I activated it, I was passed by other cars as it becomes tough to maintain focus on the road.
The graphics in Real Racing are worthy of more superlatives than I can muster. The tracks are varied, and each one is detailed beautifully. The cars are very detailed, but there are no large distinctions, other than color, between each car. However, I agree with Firemint’s decision on this, as this is a simulation racer, and I don’t want to see a minivan racing a Ferrari.
There are two possible views: the default, a “cockpit” view, and the more traditional 3rd person car view. Although the 3rd person view may provide a slight advantage gameplay-wise in that you can see more of the area around your car, I much prefer the cockpit view, as it provides a truly immersive experience.
The only problem with the cockpit view is that the display numbers like laps, place, time, and speed are a little too dim. Overall, however, whatever view you choose, the graphics are incredible, and I couldn’t believe I was playing an iPhone.
The audio in Real Racing is superb as well. Real Racing has 12 different tracks from indie artists, all of which are great, intense driving songs. Where the audio really shines though, is with the sound effects. The sounds of the screeching tires are fantastic, and the sounds of the engine were both realistic and heart-pounding.
Real Racing is what it claims to be, real. Firemint’s time and effort that went into this game are readily apparent in every race. This is hands down the best racer for the iDevices, and any racing fan should already be clicking on the app store link now.
- Feels extremely real
- Incredible graphics
- Fantastic online connectivity
- Human-like AI
- Control scheme for everyone
- Sometimes AI is too aggressive
- Rearview mirror is tough to use
- Numbers can be too dim in cockpit view