Real Racing 3

Developer:  EA
Download:  Get on iTunes
Official link:  Real Racing 3 – EA
Price: Free (in-app purchases available)

Though realistic racing isn’t a favorite genre of mine, I can still tell that Real Racing 3 is a very good game worthy of a recommendation. With lots of customization available, there’s really something here for anyone who likes any kind of racing game. NASCAR fans will obviously find a lot to like but so will anyone who doesn’t know what that acronym stands for. So if you’re looking for a racing game that’s also one of the top free iPad games, this is an easy download.

This game knows what you want. As soon as it first loads, you’re already in a racecar ready to take a lap around the track. And it’s here that you’re presented with the first of many options. The game loads up with tilt controls as the default, and… I’m guessing you’ll opt not to stick with it. The tilt controls are adequate, but at some point you’ll probably want a layout that’s easier to handle. Fortunately, you have many to pick from. You can have a virtual steering wheel on the screen, or you can have left and right buttons on the sides. You also have the option of having a gas pedal on the screen or letting the car handle acceleration on its own.

The auto-acceleration is one of the many nice features available for those who would rather just play casually. There’s also a steering assist, a brake assist, and traction control. Let me just say that I’m an absolute all-star with all the assists on. Without the assists… I spend much of the race in the grass and hitting walls. So I probably need the help. If you, however, would like the gameplay to actually match the game’s title, then you can certainly do that. You’ll get the added bonus of being able to get faster lap times and potentially increased earnings as a result.

You receive a lot of different types of winnings when you complete a challenge or rank high in a race. There’s the standard cash prize that’s called R$ in this game. There are also gold coins (which is the other form of in-game currency) and fame (which is like experience points and increases your level once you gain a certain amount). Additional R$ and gold coins can be purchase with actual dollars, but it seems like you get a fairly steady flow of these by winning races and completing random achievements.

The R$ are used pretty much everywhere. You need them to purchase new cars and also to upgrade the stats of current ones. You need them to buy mechanics to service your car and also to pay for the repairs themselves. Oddly, the gold coins are also used everywhere. Whenever you buy something with R$, you don’t necessarily gain access to it right away. Instead, you have to wait a certain amount of minutes before you can truly use it. Gold coins can be used to skip this timer and make whatever you bought available immediately. The amount of time you have to wait is negligible early on, but it may increase and become a nuisance if you play deep into the game.

It’s worth noting that this is a huge game, coming in at well over 1 GB. Much of that is undoubtedly spent on the super impressive graphics. A lot of time went into modeling a lot of different types of cars and a lot of official tracks. Keeping with the structure of a good game, you get to unlock a lot of these as you play through the game. Thus, there’s always an incentive to keep racing, especially if you want to get the best car that you can.

There are also many different ways to race. In addition to the career mode where you seek to go from amateur to legend, there are several interesting options to race other people online. Real Racing 3 uses something called Time Shifted Multiplayer that gives you a way to actively yet asynchronously play against your friends. When your friends (or random people) race, the game saves their data and then uses it to create an AI version of themselves that you get to go up against. And these aren’t just passive ghosts! You can bump into them and knock them out of the way and even affect their final time. There’s even an elimination-style race where every 20 seconds the person in last place is removed from the game, so you’ll have to time your moves carefully to survive.

If you like racing at all, this is a must-download. If you enjoy actual racing physics, this is something you’ll thoroughly enjoy. Even if you only like arcade racing, you’ll also feel right at home. I must admit that it’s oddly satisfying to intentionally take out the car in front of you. However, if you prefer drafting to smashing, you’ll have plenty of chances to perfect your skills on all kinds of courses. There’s a lot to like in Real Racing 3, and it’s no surprise that this is one of the most popular, fun, and free games for iPad today.

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