CSR Racing - freemium done right... and wrong (UPDATED)
Sitting atop the free apps list is this gem of a game. Controversial? Absolutely. Never mind the fact that the ratings are artificially inflated by "rate dis app 5 starz for coinz" nonsense. However, with that said, it's really not a bad "freemium" game at all. I "completed" the game last night without abusing the "time bug".
The in-game timer shows a little over 9 hours with over 200 miles traversed. $7 million was earned, level 40, and 800 races completed. Not a penny, nor even coin was spent. The result: at least one maxed out car for each tier (purchased with 50% sale), as well as the boss car for every tier. Do note, the boss races are pretty difficult without a mechanic, but a cakewalk with. So if you really want the car, I recommend buying the lowest level mechanic.
ALWAYS BUY DECALS. They pay for themselves in like 5-10 races. It generally takes about 100-150 races per tier, do the math.
Manufacturer races have HUGE payouts. However, they're set, so you might not even get a chance to do any. And during the initial playthrough, it's very unlikely that you'd have more than one car in each tier, so it's a bit unfair towards certain cards.
Same thing apply to restricted races. You might hit certain restrictions that you simply cannot install a part/remove a part to overcome: e.g. AWD/RWD/FWD, weight restrictions, horsepower restrictions, and later on, CAR restrictions. These don't pay as well as manufacturer races, but better than ladder races.
Ladder's pretty straight forward, however it serve's as a pretty good gauge as to when you can progress onto the next tier. If you can beat everyone in ladder, then you can beat the tier's boss. However, if you're planning on winning the boss car, I'd hold out 'til you've maxed upgrades.
Daily challenges are a good change of pace and let you try out new cars. However, unless you're abusing the clock bug, it's not a reliable source of income. HOWEVER, if you are, then this has better payout than the regulation races. And if you're a perfectionist and want 100% win rate, then I'd avoid these races, since some of them can get quite challenging and you have no control over which ones you partake in.
Do challenges/boss races whenever you feel ready. They pay better than regulation races as well. The race for the boss's car is more than feasible with a maxed out car, you don't need the mechanic or the nitrous at all. On average, I'd say you've got a .1-.2 sec advantage on him maxed vs maxed.
There are a few IAP only cars in the game, the most notable being the R8 LMS Ultra CSR, which is the fastest car in the game (705 performance vs 699 for the regular R8 LMS, which comes out to about a .2 second advantage through the quarter, and .4 through half). A couple of other decal'd cars, like the TT RS and Cooper S Works are also IAP only as well. In general, most of the cars are available for in-game cash when you unlock the appropriate tiers. I heavily recommend waiting for 50% sale if at all possible [especially at later tiers], but if you absolutely prefer one car to another, then by all means purchase it. You can make that back pretty quickly.
For a freemium game, progression is actually pretty nice. There will be some grinding, ESPECIALLY if you're going after the boss cars. However, if you're just going through the tier, beating the boss, waiting for the 50% sale on a car you like -- by the time you purchase that car, you should have enough to upgrade it a decent amount (level 2 for the most part). This would enable you to complete a healthy portion of ladder, restricted races, boss races, and manufacturer races (if your car is eligible). By the time you get "stuck", you should already be able to race the highest level regulation races for relatively quick and easy money.
Overall, however, the game lacks any sort of real depth. The customization is entirely linear, the attributes are lacking, and there's little if any strategy.
The different parts, the names, are really just skin deep -- if that. As I've posted elsewhere, give me a larger set of customization options, and have each part reflect on the car's performance/visual appearance. e.g. if I install a turbocharger, I want to hear the "psst-chhh", if I install a supercharger, I want to hear the high-pitched "whrrrrrr", and clearly, the inability to install both on the same car. Moreover, I want to witness the turbo lag versus the instantaneous supercharger, but the huge surge once sh!t hits the fan, and the additional PSI dial on the dash. I want to make decisions, ups and downs with each part. As it stands, it's a checklist of things to buy and to grind for.
Also, this isn't the first drag racing game on any device. Despite it's somewhat vast history as a "freemium game", there's one thing its predecessors have all shared: the ability to customize gear ratios. Be it Android's "Drag Racing" title, or the timeless Nitto 1320 (now Nitto Legends), they both offered this feature. It's extremely easy to implement, but literally offers an infinite level of customization, and allows the player to "personalize" the car like no one else can.
Moreover, why is there even a downshift lever? I've only ever hit that on accident, when reaching for the NOS button, resulting in an inevitable loss of race. However, an extra racing mode, perhaps a 0-150-0 drag-stop thing could put that lever to use.
On the bright side, this freemium game has "completely optional" IAPs, yours truly being exhibit A. However, seeing that multiplayer is soon to be implemented, things need to change for that to remain true. The best car in the game (or even in each tier) should NOT be IAP only. IAPs should be used aesthetically for personalization, or as a shortcut to grinding, but not hinder gameplay. There needs to be an alternative to getting the R8 LMS CSR than $40 or jailbreaking and hacking the iOS device.
This game get's insanely addicting though, not gonna lie. Also, graphical glitches sometimes (screen starts spazzing/flashing, need to force quit game/restart iPad to fix).
Score: 7/10. Would be 7.5 with bug fixes. 9-10 with increased depth.
UPDATE: Turns out, the physics engine is pretty damn good. It's a healthy step over the alternative drag racing game, Nitro Drag Racing (or just Drag Racing on Android). However, it still lacks the same amount of content and customization. And the premium features are mandatory if one wishes to remain competitive, which shouldn't be the case. A simple 10k cash = 1 gold coin conversion rate would strike a proper balance for a game like this.
Updated score: 7.5/10. 8/10 once bugs are fixed. 9/10 with increased content, multiplayer, and different modes (bracket racing anyone?). 10/10 if they strike the proper balance between optional premium features.
Last edited by 2hvy4grvty; 07-07-2012 at 07:27 PM..