When is a driving video game a sim and when isn’t it? It’s a woolly point that however is frequently the topic of much dispute – are Forza and Gran Turismo sims? You might make a persuading case for and versus both, and I’d definitely not refute either’s approximation of the driving experience – that much, as ever, is down to individual taste. But if it’s a appropriate sim you want, in the unpopular 90s PC sense of the term, where you’re handling tire pressures and engine maps and costs half your time under the hood to get your head around how all of it works… Well, I do not believe there’s ever been anything rather like Asseto Corsa Competizione on console prior to.
Let’s take an action back initially, though. After a somewhat unconvincing exit from early gain access to in 2015, Assetto Corsa Competizione has actually now made its location together with rFactor 2 and iRacing in the premier class of PC racing simulators. It’s a completely focussed thing, constructed entirely around the GT World Challenge – the series previously referred to as Blancpain GT – and the GT3 automobiles within. It’s not the location to check out an extensive list of exotica, or to go wandering around imaginary cityscapes. Instead, it has to do with diving deep into the operations of a real-life racing series, and reproducing the adventure of going door-to-door with some pukka GT3 equipment around a few of the world’s finest tracks.
And Assetto Corsa Competizione stands out at what it sets out to do. The racing is genuine, equipping you with all you’ll require to engage with the busywork of a GT3 race – there’s a virtual spotter to assist you with traffic, a series of evaluates so you can watch on tire wear, brake temperature level and tire pressure, real-life rulesets so you’ll need to handle pit technique and vibrant time and weather condition so you’re fighting the track and conditions as much as you are the remainder of the field. When that all comes together, there’s absolutely nothing rather like it; take part in the 24 Hours of Spa and you’ll see the sun set and increase over the Ardennes, the track getting and losing speed as the temperature levels ups and downs. If you have actually got any love for the genuine thing, there’s those exact same butterflies in your stomach when you route a train of GT3 automobiles as they skyrocket up Eau Rouge, their tail-lights snaking off into the forest ahead.
It feels great, too. Does it have the very best handling design of them all? Again it refers individual choice – a variety of real-life GT World Challenge motorists swear by it, which is all the recommendation you need to require – however any place you stand, I do not believe anybody would challenge that this uses the very best handle GT3 automobiles around. They’re weighty things, and battling them up Eau Rouge isn’t simple work; these chunky young boys jockey and weave their method up the hill, and getting the most out of them is a case of handling all that heft as you check out the limitations of each track and chew up the tarmac.
Assetto Corsa Competizione does a fantastic task of equating all that, in addition to the sheer violence you undergo behind the wheel of a GT3 vehicle. Thunder along the kerbs and it sounds as if the world will end, while even the more sedate minutes are soundtracked by chirruping wastegates, grumbling brakes and clunking transmissions. And when you have actually got a Bentley or a Merc turning up quick behind you – well, you’ll definitely hear them coming, their rumble seeming like a squadron of upset Spitfires.
The remarkable thing here is Assetto Corsa Competizione console variations are loyal to all that. Everything that’s made Assetto Corsa Competizione such a marvel on PC is undamaged, which’s rather some task – however great lord do you need to invest some severe effort to get at all of it, with no concessions produced console gamers and more than a couple of oversights and odd choices made along the way. The headline, I’m sure you’ve already heard, is the limitation of console versions to 30fps, though it’s not really as big a deal as you might imagine and certainly isn’t this port’s greatest offence. To have a simulation of this complexity running in any form on what’s fast becoming vintage hardware remains quite the feat, and it only takes a handful of laps to acclimatise (and if you’re of a similar vintage to myself, you might also remember playing sims such as Geoff Crammond’s Formula One Grand Prix back in the 90s when 30fps would be seen as a blessing).
Elsewhere, though, it’s harder to get your head around some of the choices made here. By default, you’ll have to map all your controls beyond the bare basics, and if you’re playing on a pad expect to put in a decent amount of time tweaking to fix the lacklustre default settings offered. It’s possible to find something approaching a good set-up, but it takes some serious work – and oddly enough, it’s not that much easier if you’re playing on a wheel, with Assetto Corsa Competizione on console not playing particularly nice with commonplace hardware. I’m primarily using a Fanatec CSL Elite kit, and had to work through all the settings myself just to get the thing to work, which is plain baffling. It takes the PC sim mentality a bit too far, for my liking.
That’s not all, either, with private lobbies not available at launch (they’re promised soon) and with vanilla multiplayer experiencing more than its fair share of failures in these early days. Be warned, too, that Assetto Corsa Competizione is a fairly slim proposition, with its single series and 11 tracks, something reflected in its slimmer price point, and something that can be addressed with some DLC that’s available on day one that folds in the Intercontinental series, with the prospect of British GT being added further down the line too. That’s if you can get your DLC code working, that is, with problems there adding to the laundry list of faults found in Assetto Corsa Competizione’s console version on day one. Out of the box, Assetto Corsa Competizione is – to borrow a motor racing term – a shitbox.
It’s deeply frustrating, especially given how Kunos has worked so hard to get the PC version in shape in recent months only for the console version to suffer from a similarly flawed start. Work at it, though – and have some faith that this port will have a bit more work put into it over the coming weeks – and there’s something pretty special here, though it’s worth knowing what you’re getting yourself into. If crawling around a track on your outlap as you gingerly get heat into the tires and brakes before really committing, or trawling forums for ideal force feedback settings or camber rates for certain tracks doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, you might want to steer clear. Assetto Corsa Competizione is a proper sim, for better and for worse – and for its many faults, it may well be the finest sim that’s ever found its method to a house console.