Real Racing hands down the REAL DEAL

Posted: June 7, 2009 in Racer, Sim

When EA’s Need for Speed finally made its debut after months of delays, I declared it the best arcade racer available at that time for the iPhone/iPod Touch platform. Well, I can safely declare Firemint’s Real Racing from Firemint is the BEST overall racer, arcade or otherwise, available on the platform that blows away everything else. The game is impressive in all aspects of the word for controls, graphics, and gameplay. It is truly a racer that not only sets a high bar, but tears it down and creates a new set of rules.

Depthwise, Real Racing has 12 race tracks, 36 cars, and 3 car classes (sedan, hatchback and muscle car) and 9 championships. The load of content by itself would be enough to make most racing fans salivate. But I haven’t even discussed the local online play where you can against other players for the title of the best real racer. You can compete either in online leagues or in local online only multiplayer races. Some will be disappointed by the local online only play to compete with others, but when you see the graphics, it’s a good bet that the game in this case is ahead of the connectivity. One thing I am disappointed with is that there’s no flexibility to create your own racing teams which hopefully will be added in the future. There’s even a replay option where you can upload race replays to Youtube.

Visually this game will easily draw comparisons to PSP-quality racers because the high-resolution graphics/animation and framerate are that smooth. From the details on the cars to the explosive sounds of revving engines combined with a high-velocity soundtrack, Real Racing delivers an immersive racing experience. Don’t let the pre-release videos fool you…the colors pop, and you’ll be amazed. Also, in the upper right corner during a race, you can alternate between third-person and cockpit view. Seriously, the game is so well implemented, you can feel the speed in this game.

While the cars look great, it would’ve been ideal to use real makes and models. What you do get is a nice variety of sim cars with appropriate stats which frankly for most is more than enough.

The Menus are designed to be straightforward, and they are. There is nothing you can find in there from settings and controls to your racing stats.

In terms of racers, the controls are what differentiate the elite racers from the great ones. In the case of NFS, the controls are about auto acceleration, and while I’m not a fan of that, it is a great arcade racer. Real Racing on the other is an elite racer whose controls are second to none…no question. The game offers a choice between accelerometer (set by default) and touch steering control. Actually, there are four controls schemes:

1. accelerometer steering, auto accelerate and manual brake
2. accelerometer steering, manual accelerate and manual brake
3. touch to steer, auto accelerate and manual brake
4. touch to steer, auto accelerate and manual brake

Firsthand, I will tell you that the accelerometer controls with auto calibration are responsive but they tend to be shaky making it difficult to see what’s happening around you which can be distracting. The touch steering works like a charm for me and seems to stabilize the image for whatever reason, although I like manual acceleration instead of auto acceleration. In Real Racing, whatever control scheme you choose, you’re in complete control in how much or how little you turn, and I can’t say that about too many racing games.

The other great option is the Brake Assist System which automatically brakes your vehicle when it approaches other cars or turns corners. As with the accelerometer sensitivity, you can also adjust the Brake Assist System, and it’s terrifically implemented which I recommend you use early on as you familiarize yourself with the race tracks or for quick casual play. Other options include the ability to flip the screen (a great option that too many devs ignore),

Real Racing has three modes of play: career, single races and time trials. In Career mode, you have to qualify and unlock races which have names such as the Hatch Qualifier, Monacato 500, NrGee Super Sprint and Touring Qualifier. In terms of single races, you have a number of tracks to choose from and it tracks your fastest lap based on Hatch, Sedan and Muscle. You can choose to race solo or with competitors as well choose the number of laps. In Time Trial, you can also choose from a number of tracks, track by class of vehicle, and then upload the best time online. In each, there are 3 divisions based on difficulty: Division C, Division B, and Division A. B and A are unlocked once you successfully complete races in Division C.

Another significant differentiator is the AI which significantly adds to the realism. The “human-like AI” is noticeably apparent and saying that it adds to the racing experience would be an understatement. In other racing games, the level of difficulty can vary from being too easy to too hard where you can either lap competing racers or you get bombarded by other racers to the point of absurdity (e.g. Days of Thunder). You won’t have that problem with Real Racing, and in fact, you better have your driving gloves on and know the race course. The AI offers challenging gameplay and is not afraid to show who the boss is. If you even make a small mistake, the AI will trade paint to let you know they’re watching. I did a quick test with Fastlane Street Racing and NFS, and if you’re into racers, you will probably have a tough time going back to those games again. This is how good Real Racing is.

Real Racing or NFS? If you’re into arcade racers with arcade physics (you know what I mean by that), and you want more of a storyline regardless of how shallow, then go with NFS. However, for those who want a realistic sim racer with real feel for speed, and a good amount of depth in terms of race tracks and cars, and most importantly a career mode, Real Racing is a no brainer. As I mentioned before, NFS is the best arcade racer you can get with Maggie Q. But without a doubt, Real Racing is the best overall racer available at this very moment.

Albie Meter: 5 Stars (recommended for those looking for a realistic sim racer with all the bells and whistles who have the real need for speed)

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