Electronic Arts seems to be one of the most disliked game developers on any platform, so it doesn't take much for the internet to rise up in anger against them. The release of Real Racing 3 with its heavy in-app purchases was reason enough to hurl some vitriol at EA. However, the game is free to try and there are a ton of officially licensed cars to drive. So is it really that bad?

Gameplay And Controls

There's no need to bore you with every little detail of how racing games work. I will say that Real Racing 3 has plenty of event types including, cup races, speed challenges, drag races, sprints, and eliminations. There are also tons of tracks from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to Hockenheimring in Germany. Each race you finish nets you experience points and cash (more on that later).

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Like most racing titles, you don't have control over the accelerator in your car (in most of the control schemes). When the green light goes on, it's pedal to the metal. Tapping on the screen applies the brake, but that's the only time you need to touch the screen. Steering is handled by the accelerometer, so you can just tilt to turn the wheel. You can turn on more complicated control schemes with an on-screen wheel and manual acceleration, but don't bother.

The controls feel very smooth, and the game actually behaves a little differently depending on your car's stats. I appreciate this attention to detail. You can probably tell the controls don't include any crazy special powers or a nitro boost. Real Racing 3 is, well... real. You only succeed by driving well, rather than relying on gimmicks to make up distance. The pure racing experience is executed very well in this title.

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All the events in Real Racing 3 use "time-shifted multiplayer" to fill out the starting line. All the other cars are AI-controlled versions of other real people that have raced that event. EA essentially takes your best runs, and overlays them on someone else's game. If you sign into Facebook, Real Racing 3 lets you challenge friends to time-shifted races as well. It's a neat idea.

The dilemma with relying on in-app purchases is that the developer has a vested interest in making the game harder. Some devs take this too far in an effort to extract more money. Real Racing 3 is not particularly easy as far as racing games go, but it does offer some assists to help you along. Steering assist, brake assist, and traction control are all enabled by default. If you don't want this helping hand, you can turn them all off. Frankly, it's a good thing these options exist. Some players are going to need them, lest they go broke.

The Upsell

Plenty of games have in-app purchases, but Real Racing 3 takes things a little further by instituting waiting periods when you do certain things. Confused? So was I.

Real Racing 3 has two currency systems: cash and gold. Cash is used to buy upgrades, cars, and repair services. Gold is mostly used to bypass the mandatory wait times. You accumulate a few gold tokens each time you level-up or complete a particularly important challenge, but you have to buy most of them with real money. You would be surprised how often the timer comes up. For instance, not all cars can be used in all series, so you might have to get a new one. If that's the case, get ready to wait for a few minutes while the car is delivered. If you want to upgrade a car before racing, there is another wait for that.

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Racing also wears on the car, which means it needs to be serviced. Again, this is a mandatory wait. Some longer races can drop several of the car's health indicators into the red, so you may need to queue up multiple services at once. Several times I've been staring down the barrel of a 30+ minute wait while the car was being serviced. Bypassing that would cost 8 gold tokens. How much is that? You can get 10 for $1.99. That's an obscene charge to get back to playing your game.

I'd like to get back to playing when a car needs for repairs, but this timer system is just terrible. Sometimes you only get a few minutes of gameplay before it's time for another upgrade or servicing cycle. The only way to get around this is to buy a lot of cars at great expense so you can rotate them in and out.

Real Racing 3 has persistent car damage, which means if you run into something or spin off the track, parts of the car will break and need repair. Thankfully, this does not have a built-in wait time, but it does cost you cash. Although I'm not happy with the use of in-app purchases, the damage system does make me feel more connected with the race. I cringe when my car taps a wall, or another car veers into me. That's (potentially) real money, it's costing me.


Real Racing 3 is not a small game – it's a 1.7GB download, and it isn't hosted in the Play Store. What you get for that download is a stable of 45 highly-detailed cars from manufacturers like Porsche, BMW, Audi, Nissan, and Ford. Car buffs will be pleased.

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The graphics are overall good in most places. Reflections and lighting effects look excellent on the cars. The environments are varied and realistic, but there is a lot of aliasing on some of the edges (mostly visible on barriers and buildings). These jaggies aren't super-noticeable when you're at speed, but it makes the Real Racing 3 look a bit rough in places.


Real Racing 3 is not a bad game, but I'm not sure it's fair to call it good either. The quality of the gameplay is awesome, and the graphics are solid. It's just the heavy use of in-app purchases that interfere with my enjoyment of the game.

The timer mechanic is the main problem here. If you're patient, you can grind through by doing something else when a long wait pops up. You'll get a system notification when your car is ready to go. Still, I feel like I can't play Real Racing 3 on my schedule unless I pay an entrance fee. It's unfortunate, because I believe there is an amazing game lurking right beneath the surface, buried under all those pricey gold tokens. That said, Real Racing 3 is fun enough that I'm going to keep it installed.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    Did i ever say i love you? (no homo)

    "Electronic Arts seems to be one of the most disliked game developers on any platform"

    • aholesrus

      Oh for christ sakes, could you and all you brain-dead crybabies shut the fuck up about EA already? whining won't solve anything. I know they are doing poorly but this shit is getting really, really, old. if all of you people can grow a backbone and quit wasting your negative energy on anything that is unnescessary, i'll shut up.

      Until then, this is been a long time coming and this has got to end right now.

  • Marc Kessens

    Protip: Use GMD Speed Time (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gmd.speedtime&hl=de) in order to fast-forward your internal clock, so you don't have to wait for repairs etc. Really handy

  • Marc Kessens

    Protip: Use GMD Speed Time (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gmd.speedtime&hl=de) (root only) in order to increase your internal clock speed, so you don't have to wait for repairs etc. Really handy!

    • primalxconvoy

      Is there any way to do this with non root? With games like happy town, I just changed the date or time back and forth to "cheat" the wait times. Can it be done with this gave and is there an app to do this easily?

  • mgamerz

    How about no

  • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

    I downloaded it and played a few races. It looks great but the wait times just reinforce my "never give EA any money policy"

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

    This is the best racing game ever to come to a mobile platform, period. Nothing else comes remotely close, and nothing is as predictable, fun, or well-made.

    The problem is that in being such a well-made game, RR3 highlights all of the bigger problems mobile racing games still face.

    1. Clipping: in order to avoid high processor load / decreased FPS, clip points in RR3 are extremely simple (in fact, I'm pretty sure they're the same for every car) - you can be 2-3 feet away from an opponent, and still make contact. It makes no sense. Walls are even worse, and cause you to scrub a massive amount of speed even when barely touched, instead of just 'scraping' the barrier and then bouncing off based on the angle of approach.

    2. AI: The AI in RR3 is absolutely unaware of any other cars on the track. You can't dive in under an opponent on a turn and expect them to ease up and give you the line as you head into the apex ahead of them - they'll just run down the track and hit you. It is extremely frustrating, and goes to show just how far we are from console-grade racing titles in terms of AI response.

    3. Controls: Manual accelerator mode is basically impossible, because the floating wheel as a steering mechanism sucks. I use the on-screen left / right edge controls with manual brake and all assists off, and that's the best setup I've found so far.

    4. Sand cheating: You can use sand or grass on many tracks to 'cheat' getting around particularly tight corners, and it can be highly effective. This obviously needs to be fixed, because exploits like this will ruin a racing game.

    The IAP / wait timer situation is lame, but I do understand EA wants to make some money on this. Toning down the cost of stuff would be nice, though - it is clearly too expensive. That said, I'm at Driver Level 19 with 92% complete on Pure Stock Challenge and haven't spent a dime yet. It's not horrid, but it is definitely annoying.

    Firemonkey did a really great job here, but I still find myself wanting more than this game can deliver.

    • GraveUypo

      i agree with every single one of your points but i have some of my own personal inputs to make.

      also going to number topics for easier identification later :<

      1. collisions suck indeed. aside from the bad hitboxes, other cars will shove you away like yours is made of paper. and they won't even flinch. they'll literally run you over if you don't get out of the racing line.

      2. i also hate the fact that when your tires squeak, even a little bit, you are going to lose a lot of speed, like your engine shuts down for 3 seconds or something, and probably go off-track. it doesn't feel remotely real, feels like it's a intentionally implemented gimmick to punish understeer and oversteer, and i can understand seeing this is a mobile game and the controls do not allow for more realistic physics to be implemented (after all your brakes and gas are either full-on or full-off) but it's so overdone it disgusts me.

      3. i use manual acceleration and braking, with no braking or steering assists (just tcs because like i said, theres no way to control throttle finely), and this way you can be WAYYYYYYYYYYYYY faster than people (who mostly use automatic stuff from their times), but it's still hard to win a race where you have to overtake 23 completely oblivious cars that pack the entire racing line one right after the other, in a single lap. yes, completely realistic goal to do in a race..

      4. cup events are awful. seriously. overtaking 23 cars while not being able to stay or even cross the racing line is impossible without ramming people in the corners to make some positions up. also you have to compete against people with clearly better cars AND better upgrades in those odds. it's kinda frustrating. i still get 1st place in some of these events because the track allows for it and automatic brakes are dumb and brake early and in places they don't need to, but in others there's just no way to make up for the car performance gap alongside the wall of stupid cars taking the racing line with just skill.

      5. drag events are just plain stupid. it's a retarded reaction time test against people who have tried their luck multiple times. sorry, not only the gimmick of the event is stupid, but also i don't like HAVING to try multiple times to win just because i didn't guess when the green light was gonna come on (it's randomized)

      6. other events like elimination, head-to-head, autocross and speed snap are much better. in fact, the less cars racing against you, the more fun the game is.

      7. there's no free race, time trials or any freedom in what to do in the game, you HAVE to follow the damn events.

      ps: actually, maybe it's TCS that's causing that problem in 2nd topic.i'll try turning it off next time.

      • http://www.facebook.com/krzysztof.gicala Krzysztof Gicala

        Regarding your second point: turn off traction control. I race without any assists and it's a lot better

    • NineWest

      I seriously don't have a clipping problem on my iPhone 4S so maybe it's just an android thing. As you can see I'm making full contact and there is no barrier in the way.

    • lmfao

      you need to get your head checked. this garbage should be boycotted just because of the outrageous IAPs. fuck you and fuck this game.

  • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

    Does it count for the waiting period if you close the app? I ask because I usually find myself doing 1-2 races at a time max on a game like this, so if I can just get a race in and then close it out, I might actually be ok with this.

    • http://www.androider.de/ Johannes “Jojo” Siemers

      Yes. It´s perfect for that. Besides that, you can switch between your cars, starting when you get your second one.

      • andes

        good to hear that.
        I only play games on my phone for 10-20 minutes before sleeping.. ^^

  • Luisito Mercado

    Thankfully there are always ways to get billions of gold and cash on EA's Games (: I'm enjoying it to the fullest! Just use google the same way u have to use it to download the game if you own a device that Google Play claims the game is not compatible with (AT&T One X).

    • Paul

      Just be careful that EA doesn't catch you. I even trust those greedy bastards to sue you for $ 89,989,999.91 worth of gold tokens that are illegitimately acquired ;P

  • http://twitter.com/Atyp3 David Steven

    I would have gotten this but I don't have enough space.Goddangit.

  • Dee

    IAP aside, the game is pretty solid.

    I'm not anywhere close to being a hardcore gamer on my phone, but I've found that with 5 cars so far the wait times aren't that bad as I can usually use another car while one is being repaired.

    I've heard there are hacks to get infinite money, so you could probably just get that if you don't want to deal with the wait times at all.

  • Cory

    Idc what other people are saying I like it. :)

  • alexxx

    Woww no friking way! Waitinggggg or pay? Eff you EA, because of this, ONLY THIS, I boycott EA entirely. After..decades it seems. No, this is crossing the line and killing the fans. Good job!

    • booloun

      wow dude. You get the game for free. They are letting you pay for free. What the fuck else do you want? They need to make money too. They are not here for charity.

      • primalxconvoy

        Except there are already much more customer friendly ways to get money.

        Imagine restaurants claiming to offer "free food" but upon entering, all you get are three free breadsticks. In order to get the waiters' attention, you have to build up "rapport" by being more and more polite, which then lowers the waiting time to get served. However, you can bypass this by bribing the waiter to serve you one part of the meal per bribe (with each part, be it a side order, the meat, vegetables, etc being random). You can get served such an item once a day, unless you spend MORE money to bribe the chef and then after each item is served, the waiter charges more money for the next part of the meal, plus additional charges for new cutlery, plates, condiments, clean cutlery, chairs, tables, etc. Imagine that there simply is no option to just buy a meal or even a set meal, either, or even to get any seat, reserved or otherwise.

        Sound fun?

        Now imagine the restaurant manager, looking just like you, with your voice, telling you roughly the same thing you just wrote about RR3, when you complained about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/krzysztof.gicala Krzysztof Gicala

    I also think that this is the best racing game on mobile platform. It's not perfect but very close. I don't know why people are complaining that much about IAP. I'm level 38, spent 18 and half hours playing and I've only spent £3 on cash just because I got a little bit bored with my car and wanted to get a new one quicker. It wasn't a forced purchase but just a shortcut which I decided to take. There are tons of races in this game and I feel that I will not quit playing it for a long time. The graphics are amazing and they are even better on more powerful devices than my nexus 7. The waiting periods for servicing the car in my opinion add even more realism to the game and are not bad at at all as long as you have more than one car. There are few annoying things like the AI, they are really not aware of you on the track at all and sometimes it can cost you a lot of money and even loosing a race. Another annoying thing is that they decided to include some of the cars two times. For example the bmw z4 and porsche carrera. They have only minimal differances and with only 45 cars to choose from I feel that they just wanted to fill in the gap. In future it would be nice to have an update with new cars and tracks, for example the nurburgring. The gameplay is very impressive. Each car behaves in a different way and you can feel and hear when you're loosing grip or when your car is damaged. And lastly, I really hate that city track which is very narrow. It is impossible to overtake 21 cars without smashing yours completly lol. Overall it is a very impressive game and for any racing gamer it's a must have. Also if you feel that you are forced to pay to progress then, well, you should practice more on your driving skills ;)

    • http://www.facebook.com/somerandomguy.cikam Kamkam Ghostryder

      i agree with u sir on ur last point. if u r driving perfectly each sections of the lap is a chance to overtake others. For me this game is more to Gran Tourismo style. For those who prefer NFS then this game is not suitable for u.

  • GraveUypo

    i have to say i agree 100% with the conclusion

  • the fox

    i have the game with 999999999 money and gold. muhahaha...oo and by the way, did i mentioned it works offline :D

  • bobbutts

    I have been playing and without spending any real money have accumulated a few cars and decent amount of gold. When a car is being repaired just take a different car out. If I get impatient I have a bunch of gold saved up from rotating cars and buying things that take time when I'm done with the gaming session. I kind of like that it's slow going and that if you want a full garage and everything unlocked without any effort it will cost a small fortune. Personally this is my favorite game so far on Android and I haven't spent a cent.

  • Alphonse Bourdierd

    They didn't do a good job optimizing this game. It runs and looks better on my ipad mini than it does on my note 2. I wish gaming devs would take android more serious.

    • Kronox

      Think about it bro, it's easier to develop an app for 3 apple products, than the 100s of android devices

  • http://www.kizi2.com/ kizi 2

    I downloaded this game.I tried to play and I feel slow, graphics are not nice sometimes shock.

  • tei wildi

    I'm amazed people are so impatiant about the wait times and so angry. Obviosly there has to be some way of them making money or they would all have to be unpaid volunteers making the game. The wait times become part of your strategy of switching cars, making upgrades at the right time and sometimes taking a risk and not servicing on an easier race. It even makes it a bit more realistic and strategic. If never spend any credits unless doing the final engine upgrade and save up you can buy the McLaren for 65 credits. I exept I might never be able to buy any other really fast Cars as they cost so much cash and you don't won more in races as the game goes on, but for now I am really enjoying myself and accept it's always going to be a battle between them trying make money and me trying to get a free game. That just adds to the challenge and the satisfaction. I'm amazed by the amount of whining going on.

  • John

    What tablet were you using!? Those graphis were sh*t my iPhone 5 and iPad have 500x better graphics then whatever the hell you were using.

  • John

    If you jailbreak your iOS device just run inAppStore and you will have unlimited free inapp purchases (to bypass time and be rich) idk about android...

  • SolidMan

    come on guys.. no need to pay anything, just use game killer on your money and then you can buy and do everything you want anytime

  • gameloftsuckdick

    real racing 3 and dungeon hunter 4 are piles of steaming dog shit.

  • MEH

    The game is great, but as a player, you are at full disadvantage. You will always start last and just wait till you get to the Devil category. Specially the MELBOURNE circuit. There is no posible way you can pass 21 cars which are avatars strategically placed front, mid and last in the pack so you are caught in the middle. Cars in that level cost 400-800 coins which you wont be able to obtain just by playing. YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY and there is no REGULATION OR RULES on that money spent. In some cases, avatars have access to cars which have a LOW PI which you cant use but they do and at a fantastc speed totally different Than when you drove them in past races. The game gets you hooked and the screwed. I'm taking this to judicial level, as you are playing and playing a rigged game.

  • David VanHouse

    I just installed this game and I have 750 million gold coins lol interesting

  • Larry Cohen

    I'm sure someone has already made this comment. In fact, I'm sure dozens of people have already made this comment, but I'm going to make it anyway because I don't want people to mislead by a review where the reviewer knows nothing about driving dynamics. First of all, considering this game is for portable devices, the amount of control you have over the car's, well, controls is astonishing. Yes, that's right. Do change the controls so that the accelerator is manual. Do turn off braking assist, and steering assist and stability control. Do change the steering sensitivity. Changing these controls changes your control over the car, and it has a profound effect on how far you can progress in the game. Your review makes a point of mentioning that there is no control over the accelerator. That it's just pedal to the metal all the time. This is false, and you even mention that it's false later in the review.

    So here Is where your lack of an understanding for driving dynamics is concerned. Firemonkeys went to a great deal of effort to make the driving experience as real as possible for a portable device, and they did an outstanding job. Do you know what happens when you take your foot off the accelerator when going around a turn in a real car? The weight bias of the car becomes more neutral, which makes the drive wheels have less downward force, and thus the tires have less grip. This tends to cause oversteer, which helps an experienced get the car around a turn faster. Do you know what happens when you take your thumb off the accelerator in RR3? Same thing. Any professional driver will tell you that you can get better lap times by turning off the safety features, like ABS, steering assistance, stability control, etc if you know what you are doing. Guess what? RR3 has done a great job of applying these principles in the game.

    So the truth is, who was your target audience when reviewing the game? Was it someone in the second grade, or someone who wants a realistic racing experience? The truth is, your review was for the former, but the game is for either of these categories.

  • Kevin McCarty

    Hello, is your car damaged, or you need RS Gold or boosters? Well, I've found a hack that gave me all these. I have taken it from here http://g4mehacks.com/real-racing-3-hack/

    • primalxconvoy

      "Hack" requires you to complete an online questionnaire, then download a file to replace the original date file.

      Sorry, but sites that require me to fill in questionnaire, or "like" things (especially as they are geo-locked to the language of the location you are in, instead of being able to choose the language) gets no support from me.