Review – Gear.Club Unlimited 2
Even though the Switch’s library is already huge and widely varied for a less than two year old console, there’s one genre that hasn’t seen much love ever since the system’s launch: racing simulators. The only racing sim released in 2017 was Gear.Club Unlimited, a port of a successful mobile title with all content included in the cartridge and all microtransactions removed. I can’t speak for myself since I haven’t played it, but the game received lukewarm reviews at best. When its sequel was announced, I was hoping for more improvements and content so then I could finally say the Switch had its own Forza. Now that Gear.Club Unlimited 2 is out, what’s the final verdict? Is it worth its steep $59.99 pricetag?
Far from being fast, not quite furious either.
I’ll start with the positives: Gear.Club Unlimited 2 offers a lot of bang for your buck, all things considered. It doesn’t feature a wide assortment of cars like Forza or Gran Turismo‘s collection of a hundred Nissan Skylines, but it has all of the essentials: Porsches, Koenigseggs, Bugattis, and so on. Sadly, no Ferraris are included. In order to compensate for the small car roster, you can add decals and modify their appearance. It’s not a lot, but hey, it’s a bit more than what Gran Turismo offers. The game also tries to make up for its lack of vehicular variety with literally hundreds of different race courses. Most racing sims out there feature tons of cars and only a few different racetracks, while Gear.Club Unlimited 2 offers the opposite.
Another neat thing about Gear.Club Unlimited 2 is that it offers a somewhat lengthy story mode. There’s none of the dumb action sequences from Need for Speed: Payback, just your typical underdog story of an unknown schmuck filling in for a missing driver and becoming the very best; the likes of which no one has seen before.
Sadly, that’s where the positives end.
Gear.Club Unlimited 2 is flawed. Very flawed. This game suffers from a myriad of issues, some of them related to poor optimization, while others are a consequence of the system it was released for. That’s because the Switch doesn’t offer analog triggers on the joycons and Pro Controller, meaning that accelerating and braking with the ZR and ZL buttons feels unnatural. There’s no way to carefully plan your turns, since you’re either shoving your foot on the pedal or braking to the point of cracking your spine. The developers have tried to mitigate that by adding an automatic acceleration option, akin to what the Asphalt games offer, as well as less realistic turning physics, but those options just make what should have been a simulation game less, well, simulation-ish.
While those issues aren’t really a fault of Gear.Club Unlimited 2 itself, the same can’t be said about some input lag issues it faces both while racing and when scrolling through menus. The game alternates between being really sensitive to the touch of the analog stick and unresponsive to the point of thinking it has crashed.
Gear.Club Unlimited 2‘s visual and sound-related problems are also very apparent. The game originated from mobile platforms and while it does look nice at times, especially when it comes to the quality of the car models, its framerate is unacceptable. Not only are drops frequent, but the frame pacing completely kills any sensation of speed some of the hypercars present in this game would naturally offer.
The sound design is also lackluster. There’s absolutely no music when you’re racing. All you’ll ever hear are decent car engine sounds and poorly compressed sound effects, especially whenever you crash your car against the wall (a frequent occurrence, may I add). Besides this, the overall quality of the sound department when in the menus isn’t a lot better. Yes, there are some passable tunes whenever you’re in your garage or visiting car dealers, but they aren’t varied at all. You’ll get tired of listening to the same ambient tracks after the seventh or eighth time. The game doesn’t feature voice acting despite its many dialogue boxes either.
I really wanted to enjoy Gear.Club Unlimited 2. While there is some fun to be had here and a lot of bang for your buck, I can’t ignore the fact this game is technically disappointing, as it suffers from some bad input delays and framerate issues. While this is the best racing simulator you can find on the Switch, technically speaking, I can’t call it the system’s Forza or Gran Turismo. If you’re really craving a game like this on the Switch, wait for a discount and then go for it. Then hope for an eventual release of a compatible steering wheel for the Switch. This game stands out simply because it doesn’t have any competition whatsoever.
The car models are very good, while the environments are just visually passable. What really hinders the game is its poor framerate and complete lack of sensation of speed.
Not only are the controls hindered by the Switch’s lack of analog triggers, but there is a sickening amount of input lag, both during races and especially when in menus.
The game features absolutely no soundtrack when racing. Sound effects are also pretty poor, even though the engine noises are actually good. There also very few tracks when you’re in the garage.
Fun Factor: 6.5
Despite its various setbacks, you can still have plenty of fun with Gear.Club Unlimited 2 due to its very lengthy career mode, hundreds of tracks, and the fact that there’s nothing else like it in the Nintendo Switch library.
Final Verdict: 6.0
Gear.Club Unlimited 2 is available now on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Gear.Club Unlimited 2 was provided by the publisher.