As ambitious as anything in the App Store, Real Racing kicks the powersliding trend to the curb and substitutes it for intelligent application of the gas and brakes. It's breathtakingly realistic in all aspects of its design and is easily one of the best games on the iPhone to date.
This game wouldn't work without good controls, and Real Racing handles better than most iPhone racers, especially when driving in the immersive cockpit view. It can still be a little difficult to navigate corners, mostly because the margin of error here is so low, and a botched turn can send you into the dirt and out of contention. But it's called "Real Racing" for a reason, and those looking for realistic driving physics won't find any better on the iPhone.
By default the game will brake and accelerate for you, and a slider bar allows you to wean yourself off of this help until you're in full control of the car. Your perspective will shift slightly as you tilt to steer, making it feel like you really are inside the car as you bounce and swing around corners.
It's great fun to blaze around the track on your own, shaving seconds off of your best lap time. Unfortunately, the Time Trial mode lets you race only one lap at a time, forcing you to restart the event for each successive lap.
Uploading lap times online is simple with Cloudcell integration (Firemint's online login system), which tracks your stats and makes them accessible in-game or via a Web browser. It will also automatically upload videos of your best lap times to YouTube, and dozens of leaderboards are available to see how you stack up worldwide.
Plus, online racing leagues are offered, and you'll have a set amount of time to race three tracks and post your best lap times for each. You'll be ranked against others who have raced the same tracks, and although it's not a real substitute for live online races, it's a nice feature.
In Career mode, you'll race against computer opponents, and this is where things might become a little frustrating. In the initial release, the opponents in Real Racing didn't like to play nice. In fact, they behaved nothing like real drivers, violently smashing you off the road every chance they got. However, the game has now been updated to include three levels of AI aggression.
Despite the slight limitations of Career mode, racing fans will absolutely love Real Racing. The graphics are stupendous for an iPhone game, and the sense of immersion in the cockpit view is incredible. The cars purr, rumble, and roar in thrilling coordination with your speed. Twelve different tracks will give you plenty of courses to master, and they make up for the fact that there's a limited number of cars to race in. In fact, Real Racing is comparable to some of the best high-end games available on the Sony PSP and puts racing games on the Nintendo DS to shame.
Even high-profile iPhone racers such as Need for Speed: Undercover can't compete with what Real Racing brings to the table. Local Wi-Fi multiplayer, the track variety, and the online feature set give you far more to do in Real Racing than Need for Speed does. Wi-Fi racing supports six players, and while it dropped the connection multiple times during our initial testing, it has been improved.
Casual racers might be put off by Real Racing, because it isn't an easy "tilt the handset to win" type of racing game that is so common to the platform. It's difficult, and it will take dedication to succeed. But those looking for a simulation-style racing experience are going to be very, very impressed.
This review was provided by GameSpot mobile content partner SlideToPlay.com.