With the ‘Ultimate’ version now out now on Xbox and PlayStation, Switch owners receive a ‘Definitive Edition’ of Gear.Club Unlimited 2, which collects together all the DLC and the base game into one single purchase. But is that core game actually any good?
It’s often in the eShop sales and you really might be able to get it for under a fiver – much more tempting than the £35-ish for the new version. Either way, it’s definitely time we took a look at one of the Nintendo Switch’s few real-world licensed racing games.
The experience does make far more sense on Switch, especially in handheld mode. You curl up on your sofa and enter its world, where you discover that what it does well, it actually does very well. The career mode does a good job of steering you through the game’s various mechanisms, introducing championships and event disciplines via dialogue boxes under cartoonified drawings of your team and your rivals.
It doesn’t feel high-budget, but it does work and any younger gamers wanting to get into sim racing won’t be put off by anything here. It’s accessible and wholesome.
But the game does feel like it’s been designed for children rather than seasoned racing game veterans. The many optional assists have several levels of severity, so you can have as much or as little help as you need. As for me, I turned them all off and went racing on full manual gears, and I have to say the game immediately got better when I did.
Sadly, as with the Ultimate Edition, the handling is just plain bad. Fundamentally, the cars don’t feel like real cars on a real road and the steering is clunky. The tangible ‘click’ between the car sliding and finding grip again is too severe, and drifting feels clumsy. Do it too much and the car will spin round, but there’s not enough control during fishtailing.
The other problem is that the steering seems to have progressive severity even though it’s mapped to the left analogue stick. Push forwards on the stick to turn slightly and the car will oblige, only it’ll keep turning tighter and tighter even though you’re not moving your thumb. It’s very off-putting and feels awful compared to GRID Autosport or the brilliant control of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Speaking of Mario Kart, this too has a four-player split-screen mode as well as online. The local play, in particular, is a surprising triumph, with up to four smooth, detailed windows looking great on the OLED screen. The controls even feel better when played on a proverbial postage stamp too, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you can get hold of enough controllers. Online is also solid, and the lobbies are pretty well populated too, so finding a race is easy. And with Driveclub-esque clubs to join, there’s more plenty gameplay to find when you’re done with solo.
Indeed, after picking the game back a while ago in a sale before leaving it well alone (after baulking at the handling model), I’ve warmed to this Switch version quite a lot after playing it properly for this review – far, far more than the Xbox Series X version I also covered recently. The Switch game has got pretty cars, a solid upgrades system, reasonable graphics for the tablet tech and a load of career and single events to keep you busy.
The game structure, options, world, event placement and licenses are all there; it’s such a shame it feels so mediocre compared to the genre’s best. It just lacks pulse-quickening action and the AI cars are too inconsistent in their performances. There’s no damage modelling and the most spectacular thing that I’ve seen happen is someone sliding slightly sideways after I hit them.
There’s no cockpit cam either, and the game (very bizarrely for a semi-serious racing game) is actually more playable in chase cam than on the bonnet. Still, the chase cam does have a neat feature where it allows the car to step out into the shot if you slide too much, which looks and feels great. It just needs way more touches like this.
Fact is, there are so many better racers, even on Switch. GRID Autosport is better for serious racing, Burnout Paradise Remastered is better for fun. But if you’re looking for some easy-going racing with tinkering on the side – and you can overlook the dodgy controls – this is pretty good. Not £35 good, but certainly £5 good. And there’s plenty more if you want it.
|Release date||4th December 2018 (Switch)|
|Available platforms||Nintendo Switch|
|Version/s tested||Nintendo Switch|
|Best played with||Joy-Con|
Full disclosure: We purchased this game for the purposes of review. Here is our review policy.