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MTBlogBot2000
23rd September 2009, 07:40 PM
<h3>This week we look at Real Racing, Firemint's foray into the world of iPhone racers and iStudiez Pro, a student schedule and task organisation app.</h3>
<h4>Real Racing</h4>
<em>Reviewed by <a href="http://forums.mactalk.com.au/members/remy.html">Rémy</a></em>

<em><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-3224" title="Real Racing 1" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Real-Racing-11.PNG" alt="Real Racing 1" width="346" height="230" /></em>

<em>Real Racing</em>, from Melbourne based developers <a href="http://www.firemint.com/">Firemint</a> (who of course also developed Flight Control) could be seen as just another racing game in an overcrowded genre on the App Store. What you'll find, however, is a much more polished and professionally developed game than the others. While gameplay isn't filled with tacky and unnecessary graphics, and you can't completely customise <em>every single square centimetre</em> of your cars and tracks, <em>Real Racing</em> provides a wonderfully rich racing experience.

How does the game work? If you've played other iPhone racing games, you'll have a fairly good understanding of how <em>Real Racing</em> works before you even begin playing. It's ridiculously simple to start navigating your way around tracks. If you buy the app, I would suggest starting with a "Quick Race" to get your way around the controls (by default, accelerometer-based navigation, centre brake and auto accelerate) and various camera views. On screen, you can see your time, position and lap number, depending on the type of race (time trial, practice, race etc) you're competing in. There are five different control settings, depending on your own preference. Personally, I use <em>Setting C </em>- touch to navigate, auto accelerate and centre brake.

<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-3225" title="Real Racing 2" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Real-Racing-2.PNG" alt="Real Racing 2" width="346" height="230" />

There's really very little not to like about Real Racing. Even on my ageing iPhone 3G, the game loads in under ten seconds. The game syncs with the <a href="http://www.cloudcell.com/">Cloudcell</a> service, so Flight Control lovers will already be ready to go with profile and ranking information. Perhaps my biggest problem with the app is this: for a game that's titled <em>Real Racing</em>, I would like there to be <em>real</em> cars from <em>real</em> car makers. While there are certainly some fun vehicles to play around with, I'd really love to see manufactured cars too. Finally, a reviewer grumble: it's really, really hard to take screenshots of <em>Real Racing</em>. That's not to say heaps of other 'fast-paced' games don't have the same problem, but Firemint,*<em>please</em> think of an easier way to save some screenshots here and there.

Competing with the Asphalt, Need For Speed, GTS and Fastlane franchises (among others), some of whom have been on the Store since day one, it could be difficult for gamers to go out and buy <em>Real Racing</em>, considering most of those others came with $12.99 price tags at time of release. I think <em>Real Racing</em> appeals most to 'seasoned racers' and to new iPhone owners, so essentially: if you're absolutely happy with your current iPhone racer and you see no need to buy another, you probably don't need to. For those who are unhappy with the current selection of racers, or if you're new to iPhone, you'll love playing <em>Real Racing</em>. Personally, I'm completely satisfied with Firemint's latest effort and can honestly say that it's become my iPhone racing game of choice.

<strong>Version reviewed:</strong> 1.11
<strong>Price:</strong> $8.99
<strong>Developer:</strong> Firemint
<strong><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=318366258&amp;mt=8">App Store</a></strong>
<h4>iStudiez Pro</h4>
<em>Reviewed by <a href="http://forums.mactalk.com.au/members/remy.html">Rémy</a>, suggestion from*<a href="http://forums.mactalk.com.au/members/nuts4eva.html">nuts4eva</a></em>

<em><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-3217" title="iStudiez 1" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/iStudiez-1.jpg" alt="iStudiez 1" width="230" height="346" /></em>

As it's awful title suggests, <em>iStudiez Pro</em> is a student organisation and task scheduling app. At $3.99, it's appealing to, let's say, more work-oriented students, but it does do a really brilliant job of keeping everything in place and under control for almost anyone studying at an education institute. There are four parts to <em>iStudiez Pro</em> - a schedule of subjects or lectures grouped by course and time, a calendar of that schedule (plus events and assignments), a place for managing and checking those assignments and finally a list of your courses organised by semester. It does a pretty neat job of doing all of that, and a little bit more.

Something I care about very much (probably a little too obsessively) is user interface. Eye candy, if you will. Thankfully,*<em>iStudiez Pro</em> shines in this area. The app is practically chock full of icons. Not only are those icons pretty, but they're really useful too. Chemistry lesson coming up? What better way to express it than with a substance-filled beaker. Physical Education after that? A Rugby jersey, of course. Brilliant<em>.</em> If you've finished school or uni for the day, the app greets you with "No more classes today - aren't you late to a party?". It's a small touch, but those small touches add up to make using the app much more enjoyable.

<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-3218" title="iStudiez 2" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/iStudiez-2.jpg" alt="iStudiez 2" width="230" height="346" />

I don't have many complaints about <em>iStudiez Pro</em>, but the biggest (while somewhat superficial) annoyance for me is the app's name. For an application that's designed to help students, it certainly isn't doing them any favours in the spelling department. iStudie<strong>z</strong>? Really? I much prefer it's former name, <em>iStudent Pro</em>. Yeah, the whole lower-case-i thing is getting a little old but at least other developers aren't adding a z to the end of everything. My only other significant issue is with <em>iStudiez Pro</em>'s calendar layout. As the screenshot above shows, the date is completely misaligned on days without tasks or lectures - it would be really nice if the date was centred on eventless days, or another calendar layout was introduced in a future update.

All in all, my (ever so slightly) pernickety complaints are proof that there's not much in <em>iStudiez Pro</em> that's not to like. Entering data is easy, organising your tasks is easy, editing instructor and scheduling information is easy and the list goes on and on. The developers have clearly put a huge amount of time into making, again, a very polished application for the iPhone and iPod touch. It shows in the silky smooth transitions and lovely icons scattered throughout <em>iStudiez Pro</em>. For students who need a way to track their education filled lives without wasting time on just making things work, <em>iStudiez Pro</em> is your solution. Just don't forget to spell 'studies' correctly.

<strong>Version reviewed:</strong> 1.0.3
<strong>Price:</strong> $3.99
<strong>Developer:</strong> Andriy Kachalo &amp; Michael Balashoff
<strong><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=310636441&amp;mt=8">App Store</a></strong>

marc
24th September 2009, 10:49 PM
I'd really love to see manufactured cars too
I think that would require licensing from the manufacturers = huge pain and maybe expensive/impossible = I don't blame them for not doing it.