The first two years of the Switch’s life have been filled with not only a wealth of quality experiences both big and small but also a range of genres – from platformers and puzzlers to rhythm and even first-person shooters. If there’s one field that the system hasn’t quite managed to deliver on though, it’s the racer. As fun as it has been throwing red shells at your friends in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, outside the plumber’s karting exploits there’s relatively little to deliver the same about especially if you’re searching for something a little more realistic. Can Gear.Club Unlimited 2 finally give racing fans something to get enthusiastic about?
On the surface Gear.Club Unlimited 2 seems to have all the ingredients to make a decent racer. It has a respectable number of tracks set in varied locations, fully licensed cars, a lengthy career mode and multiplayer options for both local and online. Within a couple of hours though you soon start to uncover the numerous shortcomings that badly hinder this initially promising package.
Career mode is perhaps the biggest and more unique feature in the game even going so far as to include some form of narrative – albeit light – that sees the main character thrown into a race as a last minute replacement and then driving professionally in events littered across a world map. On paper, Gear.Club Unlimited 2’s career mode is a sound one, sporting a huge list of races and challenges to sink your teeth into whilst also offering players the chance to pimp out their own garage, its workshops and of course cars.
Unfortunately, it’s on the racetrack where things start to fall apart at the wheels, the action passable but far from the exhilarating thrill ride that it should be. For starters, the overall sense of speed leaves a lot to be desired even when driving in the game’s faster cars while AI controlled opponents feel elementary in their driving ability posing little threat and showing lacking intelligence. In general, the way your car handles just feels off and repeatedly like you’re not in complete control. The track designs, too, feel fairly uninspired and beside a change in location all blend together rather easily. Even when switching between icy, dirt or asphalt roads the variation in handling never feels as unique as it should. All this results in races that lack any real excitement and as a result stretch on for far too long. While not terrible, there’s little to help set Gear.Club Unlimited 2 apart from other racers out there.
Between races, you’ll have the chance to dabble in some customization. While tinkering with the specs of your cars is nothing new in the world of racing games what is unique is the fact you can design and set up how your garage looks. Everything from the workshops to the cars you want on display can be placed anywhere within your building exactly where you want them. Sure you might argue your garage acts as a glorified interface for making changes to your lineup of cars, but it’s an effective one that gives you something else to focus on between races.
Gear.Club Unlimited 2 also suffers from some rather major issues when it comes to the performance department. For starters, there’s a lag in the handling of your vehicle and one that makes everything feel rather imprecise and slow. This is even noticeable when it comes to using the game’s menus. Worse still is the framerate that’s often prone to dipping well below a stable 30 fps especially as the action on the screen becomes more crowded. The game also features some of the longest load times I’ve witnessed in a Switch game to date. With the game forcing you to sit through so many load screens, it sucks away any sense of pace and veers into feeling like a boring chore just to get a race started. Of all the problems I have with the game, this is the one that chipped away my enthusiasm to continue playing most of all.
The game also includes multiplayer options both online and local. The latter might seem like a great inclusion however it’s one hurt by more performance issues and a notable drop in visual quality. Online meanwhile is limited to asynchronous multiplayer for the time being allowing you to create clubs, recruit others and compete against ghosts for the best times. It’s an okay feature but no substitute for facing off against live opponents, an option that won’t even be available until a future update.
Those patiently waiting on a decent realistic racer on Switch, unfortunately, won’t find that in Gear.Club Unlimited 2. Its decent selection of cars, solid customization and lengthy campaign are crippled thanks to the game’s sluggish and uninspired racing, sketchy performance and horrendous load times that pop up far too frequently. The Switch may be sorely lagging in the racing department but it certainly deserves much better than this.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Microïds