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Real Racing is the best racing game on the iPhone/iPod Touch and one of the best games full stop. That might sound like a fairly flat and uninspiring summary, but I'm hoping, with the brevity, straightforwardness and yet breadth of my opening remarks, to convey effectively the sheer quality of this app.
With all the positivity that's been flying around, it feels like Touch Gamer has become a bit of a love-in over the last couple of weeks. It seems my Touch and I are still well and truly in our honeymoon period; sure, we occasionally argue about the odd poor or pointless app and how often the screen needs wiping, but we always make up with a spot of Peggle or Toy Bot action.
This week, however, I feel I need to report a fundamental change in the nature of the relationship. I thought I knew where I was - I enjoyed it for what it was and neither of us demanded too much from the other. Peggle, Tiger Woods and the Spy Bot trilogy are all excellent games, but I don't think many people would argue that they seriously compete on equal terms with the likes of Killzone 2, Little Big Planet or NHL 09, for example. However, in Rolando 2 (see last week's review) I found a game that, in my opinion, came very close to standing up to similar offerings elsewhere, and, in so doing, made serious promises about the future of gaming on the Touch.
Real Racing is a huge lightening-flash ready to rush through my pupils and explode my brain (but in a good way).
If Rolando 2 was an eye opener, Real Racing is a huge lightening-flash ready to rush through my pupils and explode my brain (but in a good way). What is more, as if to drive home the point about the seismic shift that is going on, Real Racing is produced by the same people (Firemint) that brought us Flight Control, which is as excellent as it is simple (the epitome of how things used to be).
Basically, when it comes to a description, superlatives only take us so far - I mean, I'll do my best, but Real Racing really has to be played to be properly comprehended. If you like racing games, if you like iconic games, if you've been looking for a game to use when showing off the capabilities of your iPhone, or if you like any kind of game as long as it's brilliant, then pretty simply you need look no further.
Graphically, Real Racing is a revelation, but (because I'm a geek for this sort of thing) it's the superb true analogue controls that have really excited and impressed me. In a move that demonstrates the large amounts of thought that have clearly gone into every element of this game, there are five different control schemes which allow for a variety of combinations of automatic and manual acceleration and/or braking and tilt or touch screen steering (although why, after more than a few practice laps, anyone would want to use anything other than scheme B - tilt steering and manual brake and accelerator - I've no idea).
What is really impressive about Real Racing is how quickly and smoothly it delivers its goods.
Over and above its many touches of quality, what is really impressive about Real Racing is how quickly and smoothly it delivers its goods. With games on most other devices, we have got used to waiting for quality games to load their quality wares. The ‘loading screen' is a necessity that cannot be dispensed with - or so we thought. Real Racing loads its pleasant, well-laid-out menu in a matter of seconds and basically never makes you wait longer than this for any of the delights that lie beyond. Furthermore, in all the time I've been gawping at it and moving my arms in time to its demands it has delivered its stunning visuals without even a hint of stuttering or skipping. In fact I'd go so far as to say it's possibly the smoothest racing game I've ever played.
I've got a friend who has a professional-quality racing game set-up in his living room, consisting of the most expensive forced-feedback steering wheel and a complex pedal box and gearstick both connected to a huge bucket chair. Since I downloaded Real Racing and first experienced the brilliant simplicity of the (fits-in-your-pocket) true analogue tilt controls, I keep having a mental image of that friend and his wife sitting in their lounge, dwarfed by a massive industrial-strength pneumatic hammer that they use for smashing open tins of beans. It's an image that makes me smile.
In short, the people at Firemint have managed to take enough time out from shaving with Ockham's razor to make an amazing game. Find, beg, borrow or make £6 any way you can, and give it to them as a reward.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: