As a child, I have always had a penchant for speed. When I was five, I was already on battery-operated kid-sized motorcycles and would forsake the helmets (pretty hardcore, huh?) for a good ride around the living room. Not quite the long-distance champion, I appreciated the accelerator and never really knew what the brakes were for. And while at the arcade, I would always go for the Daytona machines and sometimes, the less well-known racing simulation games.
Just last week, EA Games pushed out their latest free racing game app, Real Racing 3 (RR3), with its amazing Time Shift Multiplayer technology on both Google Play and iTunes App Store. Not only does it boast the ability to allow a game double to play for users when they are offline with the same level of skills and score, it bases the game on three pillars – real tracks, real cars and real people.
About the new technology as its selling point, is it not just grabbing names of players and slapping them onto cars? As I was playing the game, it was weird to not see cars swerving back to hit me or going a little off track. Had it been a live multiplayer match, it would be even more invigorating to beat them while they are also racing with me.
And then, there is Need For Speed: Most Wanted (NFS: MW), an open-world racing video game and app, available on multiple platforms like Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, iOS and Android. Both of the mobile versions were created by the same guys at Firemonkeys, a getting together of two top-level Australian mobile development studios, Firemint and Iron Monkey.
But what I love most about NFS: MW is the cops factor. Let’s face it, it is illegal and probably exhilarating. We are not asking anyone to go around busting police cars but just the thought of it makes us remember hardcore games like Grand Theft Auto. At least we are not stealing anything, right? Drifting with the Tesla, holding onto dear life as you keep up with coming up top – you could almost smell the burnt rubber off the circuit.
However, if you need a safer game, try RR3 out instead. No cops. No accelerators, which really frustrated me for a bit there. No crazy crash-into-your-enemy-and-make-them-pay action going on. Just real racing — probably how Lewis Hamilton does it on those F1 tracks.
Compared to EA’s Need For Speed: Most Wanted (NFS: MW), which came out in the market last year at US$4.99, RR3 uses a freemium model which has been much criticized for constantly and explicitly asking for in app purchases. The cheapest car in RR3 costs about R$33,000 and the most expensive costs about R$172,000. As we can see from the interface, each player can only buy up to 46 cars, which if we consider R$100,000 to be the average cost for a car (take the most expensive and least expensive divisible by two), that is 4.6 million R dollars. For users who choose to succumb to their heart’s desire of buying the virtual cash, that would cost $128.98 for 5 million R dollars. Now, consider that there is a waiting time for every upgrade and repair.
Firemonkeys did hear all the complaints on the Internet and they took the waiting time away discreetly. But not for long, as this change was only implemented in certain test regions, with the game still being in its soft launch mode.
Most mobile gamers are not hesitant to delete apps that take longer than five minutes to upgrade items, since many of these players have very short attention spans. With RR3, it is understandable that developers would want gamers to spend on the in app purchases since it is already made free. But how much should you throw into the game? Would it just be cheaper to pay for a PC or console game instead?
Compared to its predecessor Real Racing 2 which costs US$4.99 in the App Store, players just have to curb their impatience for repairs, upgrades and new items. Although it is only reasonable for the game to ask for some kind of payment for an app designed with good simulation and game controls since the RR3 is already free to begin with, it is still difficult for most players to understand that there is almost no limit to how much money they are pouring into the game.
NFS:MW, too, shows the same kind of annoying add-ons, albeit being not as obvious and frequent, with the game being entirely possible to win fast and big to buy more cars and race better. However, the packs are outrageously vague in terms of its description. Judging by how it details the purchase packs, players would not even know what each entails. What does “start making a name for yourself on the scene” or “start seriously building your car collection with this pack” even mean?
Personally, one should not be caught in a dilemma where they have to choose one over the other. Just play both – US$4.99 is not a lot to pay for a top-notch racing app produced with good simulation and great graphics, and the other comes free of charge. When impatient with the painfully time-consuming repairs and upgrades in RR3, play NFS:MW for an adrenalin-charged game experience. And when you have had enough with the overly stimulating visuals and cardiac arrest inducing gameplay, change to something more simple and realistic. I like to think of it as the ever-speedy Clark Kent playing RR3 to slow down after a good round of NFS:MW in his cape and tights.
Image Credit: EA Games