Real Racing: electrifying gameplay, jaw-dropping graphics – a must-buy

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WOW. I can’t put my iPhone down. Seriously — I’ve stopped writing this review two three times now to go back and play another race in Firemint’s recently debuted Real Racing. With truly electrifying gameplay combined with jaw-dropping graphics, Real Racing provides a rich, gripping and realistic experience for anyone who is blessed with the chance to play it. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration — but you get the point. If you’re into racing games, buy this game; you won’t regret it.

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Real Racing represents exactly what Steve Jobs meant when he said the iPhone (and iPod touch) “is the best portable device for playing games on – and a whole new class of games.” I can’t stop talking about how good Real Racing is – my roommates are downright sick of me shoving this game in their faces.

So what’s so good about Real Racing? Everything. The controls are superb–so exact that I don’t think a racing wheel could provide more precise handling. The graphics are stunning (just watch the promo video). And, I can see myself replaying this game over and over and over and over again.

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One of the many great things about this game is that it is perfect for those who suck at racing games and racing game purists alike. Why? Racing game virgins will find that the auto-accelerate and brake assist functions are perfect for allowing the player to get used to the controls without having to worry about too much at once. Sound too easy? No worries — if you turn the brake assist all the way down and eliminate the auto-accelerate, you are fully in control.

The controls are simple and intuitive: turn the iPhone left or right to steer (just like a steering wheel). Press your right thumb anywhere on the right side of the screen to accelerate, and your left thumb anywhere on the left side of the screen to break. You don’t have to hit a specific spot — which is perfect because when you’re furiously trying to wind your way through the gorgeous tracks Firemint has made for you, the last thing you want is to accidentally step off the gas.

Did I mention the gameplay is gripping? Realistic? Electrifying? Add another adjective to the list: inspiring. As you race against the other drivers, you don’t realize they are computerized. They will relentlessly ram you, cut you off, and block your path. If I had to say just one thing that I loved about the game, it was the thrilling experience of colliding into the other cars while racing around a turn, only to get thrown in the other direction by another racer.

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Buy it. No, really, stop reading this and just go buy it. There is a great career mode (I only wish it was longer and had more tracks) in which you play a series of tournaments, each with 3 races. You get points for placing in the top 4, and the tournament recognizes a gold, silver and bronze medalist based on the cumulative points received in the tournament. There is a C, B, and A division in career mode, so the difficulty increases as you unlock harder divisions for each tournament. I found the career mode in and of itself to be more of a backdrop to the supremely incredible amazing gameplay, which is both a testament to the quality of the game but also to the lack of true ingenuity in the career mode. I think if there’s one place Firemint could have improved, it is definitely in making the career mode more fun and interesting. You can’t upgrade your cars nor is there a continuous plot line, so the career mode felt more like a series of tournaments than a truly cohesive game mode.

That said, there is multiplayer support. I’m waiting to test the local multiplayer (which, if well-executed, would make this the best iPhone game I’ve ever played), but I did get a chance to participate in the online multiplayer. Firemint has set up online leagues through a service called Cloudcell, which allows you to compete against players all over the internet. In less than a few weeks, the game’s inevitable popularity will undoubtedly bring thousands of players online. In these online leagues, each player uploads the best time they’ve raced by a pre-defined deadline and there is a leaderboard showing who in the league has uploaded the fastest times. Personally, I don’t find this to be a huge draw to buy the game, but I also don’t need any additional convincing.

Real Racing is a fast-paced, heart-pumping, realistic racing game that truly takes advantage of the iPhone’s unique capabilities. Using the accelerometer to create precise handling and the graphics engine to provide rich graphics, Firemint has managed to create a game that will become an instant hit. I would not just recommend buying it, I would say that if you didn’t, you’d miss out on possibly the best racing game the iPhone has to offer.

What we like:

  • Gameplay. It is just too good. You put it down unless your boss rips it out of your hand and threatens to fire you if you don’t get back to work.
  • Graphics. About as good as it gets when it comes to in-game graphics on a handheld device. Real Racing is like the Megan Fox of the super small screen.
  • EVERYTHING. I cannot imagine having more fun playing a racing game on any device this small. If you still haven’t bought an iPhone, play this game. You’ll want one.

What we didn’t like:

  • Career Mode. It could be more interesting and more engaging.
  • Nothing else. We usually try to come up with 3 positives/negatives for each game, but I just can’t for this one. Sorry, folks.

UPDATE: I finally got to test out multiplayer support. I am speechless. It was easy to set up and the two iPhones were talking to each other in real time. You press a few buttons and wham! you’re battling it out against your neighbor in a rich one-on-one (or more) race. It was a great experience, and I am thoroughly impressed by the speed of the connection between the two iPhones (there was no lag). Firemint has multiplayer on the iPhone all figured out.

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