Racing Rivals (iOS) Review
A racing game for car lovers and everyone else.
If you really think about it, driving a car is a pretty complex endeavor. You've got to pay attention to other cars, you've got to control what is going on in your own and you've got to do all this at speeds that could result in instant, splattery death. Driving has always translated well to the world of gaming, but can such a complicated set of actions translate to a few simple taps of a touch screen? Racing Rivals on iOS thinks so.
Racing Rivals is, as I said, a complex simulation governed by decidedly not complex actions. You don't steer, you don't brake, you simple change gears at the right times to win. It sounds weird, but it is the nuances built into the system that make it work. Timing your taps to the shift button is an easy to grasp but hard to master mechanic. It's easy to hit the first shift off the line, but waiting for the precise moment to hit it a second, third and fourth time is something that takes a little practice. Just like shifting in a real car.
Adding to the depth, the game gives you oodles of different, real life cars to choose from, buy and upgrade. Each car has a distinctive 'feel' to it, and purchasing different parts and upgrades can transform a hilarious budget model vehicle into a hell-on-wheels roadster. It's the upgrading that might be a stumbling block for some. To really understand what each new piece and part will do to your vehicle, you need to actually know a little something about cars ' I don't. The game gives you helpful little graphs explaining what each part will do to your setup, but if you don't know torque from drivetrain, it can be tough to understand exactly what you are investing in. The attention to detail will have gearheads' eyes rolling back, but your average Honda or Toyota owner who only uses a car as transportation, rather than as a hobby, might get a bit lost.
The most interesting aspect of Racing Rivals is its multiplayer. As a guy who usually loathes multiplayer in all its forms, I have to say the little twist thrown into this game makes racing online worth it. A clunky interface could have blown this game's tires before the race began, but it is exceedingly easy to choose and race another opponent online. What makes things interesting is the ability to bet in-game currency on each race. Feeling confident in the car you've built? Go ahead and bet on it ' literally. Since the currency you win (and lose) translates back to the rest of the game, winning races with wagers attached becomes the second easiest way to upgrade and purchase new vehicles.
The first way is, of course, in-app purchases. As hated as these are in the iOS community, Racing Rivals toes the line quite nicely. You can get through the entire single player campaign without spending a dime, and the currency available for purchase never feels like a necessity. It will take much longer to save up for that next car if you aim to do it for free, but the game never pushes you in one direction or another. If you've got a great car and a gambling problem, you can buy and see it all without ever opening your wallet.
Since the races only take about 15-20 seconds apiece, I've found myself playing the game even after I started this review. That is high praise, especially considering I've got my 3DS with me at all times as well. I'm not sure Racing Rivals reinvents the iOS racing game, but the betting and pick up and play nature make it a game that is pretty easy to recommend, especially because it is completely free. Car people will fall in love instantly, and the rest of us will have a simple game that can be enjoyed over and over, for 15 seconds at a time.
Final Rating: 90%
Transmitted: 6/25/2017 6:11:58 PM