It isn't hard to see why. I had an hour-long bus ride yesterday and wanted to pass the time playing EA's gorgeous new racer. In my first event, an AI opponent thumped into my rear end, sending me spinning into a wall. If I didn't pay up, the car repairs were going to take 30 (realtime) minutes to complete. Oops. I just played other games instead.
But on the other hand, I've been picking up Real Racing 3 off and on for a full day now, completing 44 out of 961 events and buying 3 of the 46 available cars. All for $0. It's nice.
So what's the game really like? Let's take a look:
The first thing you see when opening the app is a short download screen. This is most likely pulling in race data for the game's unique Time Shifted Multiplayer.
Like developer Firemonkey's previous racer Need for Speed Most Wanted, you're immediately thrown into a race.
It's a quick, action-packed tutorial.
The main menu, where you select events, looks very pretty. But it's kind-of confusing to navigate. Each event series is open to four cars. Buying one of those cars unlocks those events.
I bought a Ford Focus RS with my initial $35,000. Is its top speed really 163 MPH?
...aaaaand the car has a delivery time of 2 realtime minutes. I used 1 of my 20 starter gold coins to skip the wait.
This is a very good-looking game. Dem realtime reflections...
Again, all the AI racers in every event are powered by real race data pulled from other players. Awesome.
On my fourth-gen iPad the framerate does occasionally dip, but this is still probably the best-looking mobile game ever made at this point.
With tilt controls, auto-acceleration, steering assist, traction assist and braking assist all on, Real Racing 3 nearly plays itself. Just vaguely tilt in the direction of a turn. Thankfully, all assists can be turns off for FULL manual control. It's as casual or as hardcore as you want.
Boom - 1st place. I think the game takes it easy on you in the beginning.
After one 1st place finish I had exactly enough money to perform my first vehicle upgrade. What a coincidence, right?
...and once again, it has a delivery time. These grow and grow in time length for higher-end upgrades.
There are lots of event types. Drag races, top speed challenges, endurance races and more.
The game records every race you compete in, and will have you race against a friend in an event hours or days after they completed it. This is 148Apps' Jeff Scott - my Real Racing 3 nemesis.
Barely 2/10th of a second behind! Damn you, Scott!
As you compete in events your Driver Level climbs, giving you a small amount of the game's premium gold coins for free. 3 coins for a normal level, 5 for crossing bigger milestones.
Every race, your vehicle accumulates service wear-and-tear. If you bump other racers, you might also have repairs to make. These lower your car's performance in concrete ways like lower top speed or less tire grip.
After 4-5 races I had to put the game down for 15 minutes to change my car's oil. One day later, these repair times are already 3 hours or more. But when you have multiple vehicles, you can just switch to another and keep racing.
The in-game store sells cash to buy cars and upgrades, gold coins to skip wait times, and a few combo packs that give gamers a variety of starter cars.
GTN will have much more on Real Racing 3 leading up to its February 28 launch, with a full review to follow.