Sunday, December 9

Review: Gear Club Unlimited 2 [Nintendo Switch eShop]

If there’s a genre on the Switch that’s pretty underrepresented among the ones that are more popular in a mainstream sense racing may be the most obvious answer. While obviously you have the likes of Mario Kart and some other lighter multiplayer-focused titles out there and we’ve recently gotten an excellent arcade-style racer with Horizon Chase Turbo fans of more realistic racing have had next to no choices. About the only title I’d known of before was Gear Club Unlimited, which I didn’t get the opportunity to check out, but now we have the sequel and though I can’t comment on what has changed from the original I can say that while it’s generally a competent racer with some nice tracks and a good feel it also has some shortcomings.

With a nice selection of real-world cars from quite a number of auto manufacturers and representing a reasonable spectrum of styles and speeds at least when it comes to well-known vehicles this title has you covered. While customization isn’t as extensive as you can find in some other series there are at least some cosmetic changes you can make and decals you can apply to pimp out your ride a bit, and there are multiple systems in the car you’ll be able to improve from the engine to the tires to the body weight and other areas that are pretty well the norm in these titles. Your money will be earned through winning races, obviously, and the Campaign mode will walk you through from your humble beginnings in a Cooper Mini up through classes that include cars you’d see on the streets and up through some exotics as well. While Online Support is forthcoming it currently isn’t available so it’s hard to comment on, but you are currently able to form and join Clubs that appear to be geared towards building a community and the planned racing you’ll do against other players is intended to be asynchronous as you compete for the best times. There doesn’t appear to be a date for this but it is intended to be “soon”.

In terms of the racing itself it’s a bit of a mixed bag overall but there are areas that work. In the beginning with humbler vehicles it tends to be a bit on the easy side, especially with the default driving assist options in effect. You’re able to tune these up or down and the areas are segregated to while you may not want help with speed or turning you may find help with skids beneficial for instance. The tracks are actually pretty nice, with quite a bit of variance in their turns and sections overall. Even if you’re in spaces that visually are similar you can count on each race throwing something a little different at you so you can’t just coast and assume you know what’s around the next bend. As you get into higher-end vehicles the racing gets a bit more challenging as not only does each car handle a bit differently but more power generally means taking turns and hitting the gas increases your odds of skidding and losing control so as turn-intensive as many tracks are you’ll really need to nail that feel to be successful. There are rally races you’ll run as well, and this does alter the tracks a bit, but it is almost purely that the tracks feel and look a little different so don’t get too excited.

There are a few issues that stand out and are worth noting if you’re considering a purchase, though depending on how badly you want a more realistic driving experience than the rest of what’s on the system they may be acceptable. First is that performance, in places, can struggle a bit, and that seems to be a bit more true in handheld mode. I’m not normally a big performance stickler but it isn’t all smooth sailing, though I can’t say it made me play any less effectively. As generally nice as the environments and cars look it also needs to be noted that you’re always driving in a very sterile environment. Aside from the track and other cars there’s nothing else out there, no other traffic, the city streets are completely empty, it’s fine but also a little creepy in a way. The last issue is that, in general, it’s all not terribly hard for a more veteran racing fan. Very early on it’s a bit more even as you try to get used to how things feel but once I had the hang of things and started getting better cars that I then upgraded in general every race was mine to lose because I was wrecking the AI that tended to stay on racing lines and aside from the top racer or two controlled by the CPU the rest seemed to generally be on a Sunday drive comparatively.

At the end of the day while Gear Club Unlimited 2 isn’t necessarily a great racing game I can at least respect the effort behind it. There’s certainly nothing to compete with it on the Switch, so it has that on its side, but this is hardly an experience that would do anything but get lapped by the more prestigious racers on other platforms. It is moving in the right direction and it has a feel that’s a bit more refined than a purely arcade experience but I wouldn’t quite say its in simulation territory yet, which actually helps me like it a bit more since sims usually bore me. If you’re feeling the need to hit the road it may not be a bad option, just you’ll need to be realistic with your expectations.

Score: 6

  • In general the variety of flow in the tracks is a plus
  • A fair representation of licensed cars from more common to some exotics
  • The feel of racing is somewhere between arcade and sim and works, especially since the levels of assistance can be changed

  • General performance always remains playable but can struggle at times,especially in handheld mode
  • In general the racing against AI competitors isn’t very challenging
  • Racing in very sterile and empty environments is kind of weird