As a follow-up to my review of Real Racing 3, I was putting together a hints-and-tips article, called “Real Racing Revisited”. Sadly, before I could complete it, an updated version of the game came out… and they changed a bunch of stuff. The update – called the “Prestige” update, contained the following changes:
- Two new carmakers: Bentley and Mercedes-Benz
- A new Race Type – “Time Trials”
- Lots of changes to the UI
- Lots of changes to game mechanics.
The first and most obvious change is that the main screen has been redesigned; frankly I am not impressed. The developers have gone for eye candy at the expense of usability. For instance, it was possible to see six events on screen at once, Now you are lucky if you can see three. There is a lot more scrolling involved, and the scrolling is “damped” — before, you could go from top to bottom with a flick of a finger; That no longer works. The soul-patch-sporting graphic designers have been at work; events are brighter and bolder, but it is more difficult to read the names of the cars.
Also, the car manufacturers have been re-ordered on the new cars screen; before they were in alphabetical order, now they appear to be ordered mundane to exotic, with Chevrolet and Nissan at the beginning and Pagani and McLaren at the end.
Personally I think that the “Time Trials” idea was a bad one, or more specifically a bad execution of a good idea. The problem is that with a time trial, there is no real winner or loser – it’s just about best lap times for a given car on a given track. That’s not to say that time trials are a bad idea or do not belong in this game, it’s just that they are not really “races”.
Each series now has additional races — one time trial for each vehicle. This means that most series now have up to four additional races. The bad news is that the events that you had previously completed are now only 89% complete. The good news is that once you have completed the (four) time trials for that event, you get another completion bonus. The weird news in all this is that you have to complete all races in first place to complete the series… EXCEPT the time trials… all you have to do is complete ’em.
In my opinion, TIme Trials are a wasted effort. Here’s what they should have done instead:
- Practice Laps: Pick a car, pick a circuit and you get three laps with the track to yourself. It would be ok for the developers to charge you one Gold to do this.
- Qualifying Laps: Before a race, you should have the ability to do up to three laps of the track to determine your position on the grid. This is how it’s done in real life. Again, they could charge you a Gold for this privilege.
Not as “Real” as it used to be
Perhaps the most annoying new feature is the concept of “drive points”. Each time trial uses one drive point, and they take time to “grow back” at a rate of one point every fifteen minutes. You start off with a limit of only two, and it costs two gold pieces to refill this bank, which is not unreasonable. What *is* unreasonable is that extending this limit is VERY expensive — at fifty gold, it is the price of a brand-new Corvette ZR-1. This seems like a cynical way to try to squeeze some money out of gamers.
They also introduced the concept of “performance rating”, or “PR”, a numeric “benchmark” of a car’s performance. Upgrading your car raises its PR. This is a good thing. They then made PR a requirement for certain races — which means that you have to upgrade the car to the required PR whether you want to upgrade or not. This is a bad thing.
Another new “feature” is the introduction of Off-Track Penalties. If any of your wheels strays from the track, you are charged a penalty, as well as the loss of speed from going off-track. You are also penalized if another car shunts you or runs into the back of you, neither of which could possibly be your fault.
Real Repairs, unreal Maintenance
Repairs and maintenance are now handled differently. Each race has an added “Clean Race Bonus”, and repairs are subtracted from this, which is not a bad thing; repairs are relatively cheap, and don’t cause any delays. However, in my opinion, the latest release has broken the Maintenance system.
In the previous version, maintenance was broken into categories; oil, engine, suspension, brakes and tyres — that “decayed” at different rates. Some high-performance cars needed an oil change after every race, but engines didn’t needed rebuilding so often. This was a close reflection of real-world racing vehicles. That approach has been abandoned in favor of a single green/orange/red scale.
This “all-or-nothing” approach is not only unrealistic, but represents an unnecessary “dumbing-down” of one of the features of the game that separated it from the competition. No more excitement trying one more race with iffy brakes or shaky suspension; no more putting off that oil change for one more race. One other casualty of the “all-or-nothing” approach is that a full maintenance cycle now takes hours instead of the three minutes for an oil change.
Previously, you could enter any series that you wished. If you didn’t already own a car racing in that series, you could jump in and buy one. This is no longer the case; many of the higher series are locked until you complete earlier series. This is irritating, but it is realistic; one cannot simply jump into a Formula One car and drive in the Monaco Grand Prix, you have to earn that right.
What is both irritating and realistic is that certain cars are locked, even if you have the money. This is not realistic – in the real world, you can buy whatever you can afford.
Another change is that the prize money has been reduced. This has irritated a lot of people. Here is an example ; my main “Money Race” is the “Road Car International” Grand Final race, a 12-to-14-minute five-lapper at the Suzuka Grand Prix circuit. Under version 1.1.2, the first-place payout is R$20700, before repairs and maintenance. Under the new version, the payout is a measly R$10250 on day one, plus a R$2135 “Clean Race” bonus.
But the new version also boasts a “Daily Race Bonus”. GREAT! Or is it? Let’s take a look, shall we?
|Payout||Daily Race Bonus||Clean Race Bonus||Total (1.2)||Total (1.1.2)|
So under 1.2, your five-race payout goes from R$103500 to R$73860. And to add insult to injury, even after working your way up to the top-level bonus, you still earn R$1515 less per race. Thanks, but no thanks.
Summing up the changes, there is no doubt in my mind that the general intention here is to make you spend more money and earn less, presumably so that you can go running to the store to buy more R$.
Unlike many, I am actually a fan of the “freemium” model — where the game is free to download and play, and the developer makes money off the in-app-purchases (IAPs). I also like the idea of taxing the well-heeled and the impatient. I actually spent a few dollars on the game — I don’t actually need the money, but I like to support developers who make good products, and this is a beautifully-crafted game. But the fact is that they are asking too much money for IAPs: the cheapest package of R$ costs $2, which will buy you next to nothing; if you wanted to buy the most expensive car in the game, be prepared to shell out more than $50, which is waaay too much money to spend on a game. One idea would be to offer a “double-your-money for $10”, which would encourage gamers to actually do some work.
I believe that they would make far more more money if they aimed for $5 from the typical gamer, with $10 or $20 for the top-end ones. This is one of those situations where being too greedy can result in making less money. Asking for more than $50 in real-world money for one car is just ridiculous.
The bottom line is that the latest version (1.2) is really not worth upgrading to from 1.1.2; very little is new, and when you add in the reductions in prize money, the decreased realism and the lower up the negatives, they outweigh the positives. Before you upgrade, I recommend that you backup your APK, and also backup your profile, (which is at <storage>/Android/data/com.ea.games.r3_na/doc). This way you can roll back the app without losing all your money and cars. This directory contains all your progress and is removed if you uninstall the game, all of your progress is lost. I did not know this, and it cost me R$1.5 million and nineteen cars. I have started again, and this time I am learning from my mistakes.
- New Cars!
- Daily Race Bonus!
- Clean Race Bonus!
- Automagic Repairs!
- Nicer Car Animation!
- Lower Payouts make it harder to compete without IAPs
- Massively downgraded Maintenance model
- Locked Events REQUIRE you to complete other events.
- “Upgrade” makes it impossible to return to previous version without manually saving data or losing all progress
- Drive Points: What the heck were they thinking?
- Locked Cars that REQUIRE you to purchase unnecessary events
- Brain-Dead “Performance Rating” (PR) system that REQUIRES you to upgrade a car whether you need to or not.
- Longer Wait TImes
- Prices in general are way too high. More than $50 to purchase one car? Give me a break…
- Unfair Off-track penalties.
EA, you made a big mistake. One that will cost you.