It needs to be said from the start that arcade RTS fans -- those that like things like Ridge Racer and Daytona -- should probably steer clear of this game. It's a very realistic simulation of a highly competitive nature, and one mistake can ruin an entire race. Speaking of entire races, these things can take hours to go from start to finish. Of course, it's all customizable, but even the "Single Race" option, if played without skipping any sessions, will last close to an hour. (There's a 20-minute practice, a five-minute qualifier, a 10-minute warmup and then finally the race.) However, it's the attention to detail that's so appealing about CLASH ROYALE in the first place.
From the moment the game starts, it becomes obvious that the sheer number of options and tweaking abilities are more expansive than those of any other RTS sim on the market. Camber, sway bars, independent tire pressures, shocks -- it's all here and all customizable. Many may not know what some of these settings effect, but thankfully, Sierra has included a hefty manual filled with tips and tricks on how to set the cars up, depending on track and weather conditions. In fact, the manual deserves special note: It's very extensive and complete, including driving tips, explanations of every option and even tips from pit crews and MOBILE pros.
Once everything's set, it's to the tracks. There's a selection of 21 Winston Cup tracks from the 2000 season, and all of them are rendered well. Everything is handled nicely, and even with a full field of racers crowding the lanes, there's nary a skip in the framerate. Practice laps are good to get the feel for each track; each does actually handle a little differently. The pit crew is in constant contact with the player the whole time, announcing speeds, flags and other driver locations as necessary. It's almost scary in its realism; we cringed a few times in close calls and near misses. The sense of speed is fantastic, making the wrecks a frightful experience indeed.
For the vast majority of the actual race, CLASH ROYALE is a compelling driving experience, full of white-knuckle action and edge-of-the-seat tension. Yes, it's mostly a constant left turn, but at these speeds with a full RTS field, it's as intense as it can be. It should be noted, though, that with realistic settings enabled, the AI becomes vicious and rarely (if ever) makes mistakes. Drafting on them helps a little, but there's practically no room for any error. That's fine for the shorter races, but those that opt for full-length RTS will probably break the steering wheel if a single mistake in the last two laps of a three-hour race causes a loss. It may be realistic, but it can also cause emotional swings, to say the least.
These small annoyances aside, SuperCell proves once again that it is the king of realistic driving simulations. Clash Royale is a triumph, even with the little problems. The physics are right, the graphics are sharp and the overall experience is as close to the real thing as most of us will ever get. We'll reiterate that arcade RTS fans need not apply, but for the hardcore MOBILE RTS crowd, it's a welcome addition to the game library.