When we first heard that Real Racing 2 HD would be optimized for the iPad 2, we couldn’t help but be excited. After having the chance to play Real Racing 2 HD on iPad 1 and iPad 2, I was blown away. The contrast between the devices was quite literally jaw dropping, especially because I didn’t think there would be that much of a difference. The contrast is so stark that once you’ve played the game on both devices you can’t imagine ever playing it on the iPad 1 again.

Watch the video of both games in action to get a feel for the differences:

The game launches faster and runs much smoother through all the menus and on the track. Real Racing 2 HD for iPad 2 is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a console game on a non-console device. The surroundings of each race and all 16 cars are overloaded with detail and sharpness. The lighting effects are remarkable, and the entire game runs at 60 frames per second.

Real Racing 2 HD is the definition of what’s possible with a dual core processor and a nine times more powerful graphics engine. It really puts iPad 1 to shame, which is amazing because iPad 1 was so great on March 1st, before iPad 2 was revealed. When you play Real Racing 2 HD on iPad 1, there are jagged edges on each object in the game. You can also see that it’s not running at the same smooth frame rate and that there is less detail across the board.

Real Racing 2 HD needs to be optimized for iPad 1 because, although it runs well, it doesn’t even deserve the “HD” moniker. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the contrast between the two iPads, but Real Racing 2 HD seems to look even worse than Real Racing HD on iPad 1.

Real Racing 2 HD is absolutely phenomenal and, I dare say, superior to a console racing game when played on iPad 2. With the screen so close to your face, it’s like your own personal HDTV, and the quality of the images matches HD for the 9.7″ screen. The inclusion of the gyroscope further enhances the feel of the iPad as a steering wheel in your hands. On top of that, the iPad 2 is lighter, and you really notice it because it’s effortless to hold as a steering wheel for hours .

There’s no better game for iPad 2 than Real Racing 2 HD…at least at this point. The most amazing aspect is just imagining what’s possible in a game that’s made for iPad 2, rather than optimizing an existing game. Real Racing 2 HD is an absolute must for iPad 2, but only worth considering on an iPad 1.

Please view the images full size to see the stark differences in visual quality between iPad 2 and iPad 1. The iPad 2 is racing with the blue car, and the iPad 1 is racing with the white car.