Test of en­durance

Are you in it for the long haul? As­setto Corsa Com­pe­tizione hopes so.


The Blanc­pain GT rac­ing se­ries may or may not be on your radar. Un­like its cousins For­mula One and Mo­toGP, it’s not a mo­tor­sport you’ll stum­ble upon on a Sun­day af­ter­noon; you have to seek it out. As­setto Corsa is a sim­i­lar prospect, never likely nor in­tended to pull in Forza- sized crowds, in­stead bick­er­ing with Project Cars 2 for niche ac­co­lades like, ‘Who’s got the best rac­ing wheel sup­port?’ and, ‘Which game mod­els tyre tem­per­a­ture bet­ter?’

It makes sense, then, that the de­vel­oper of As­setto Corsa is the one mak­ing the of­fi­cial game of the 2018 Blanc­pain GT Se­ries. Newly re­leased in Early Ac­cess, As­setto Corsa Com­pe­tizione’s of­fer­ing at the mo­ment is bare­bones: one car, one track, and some AI driv­ers for com­pany. It’s enough to give a glimpse of what’s to come, which is the kind of struc­tured solo cham­pi­onship rac­ing the orig­i­nal As­setto Corsa never re­ally man­aged. But it is a glimpse: un­less you want to help Kunos Sim­u­lazione de­velop the game by giv­ing feed­back, tak­ing a Lambo around the Nür­bur­gring is go­ing to hold lim­ited in­ter­est.

That’s not to say the fun­da­men­tals aren’t in place. With a force feed­back wheel, Com­pe­tizione of­fers one of the more con­vinc­ing track­side ad­ven­tures in all of race sim­ming. The phys­i­cal model shares DNA with the orig­i­nal As­setto Corsa, which means the line be­tween be­ing in and out of con­trol of your ve­hi­cle is woolier and scarier than it is in the re­spon­sive Project

Cars 2. Any de­gree of over­steer or trac­tion loss is ter­ri­fy­ing in its Blanc­pain cars, not be­cause the wheel snaps around like a bronco, but be­cause you’re never sure when you might’ve lost the back end for good.

Is it bet­ter or worse than other rac­ing sims? Ask a Blanc­pain GT driver. What I can say is that it of­fers enough chal­lenge for you to own ev­ery fast sec­tor and over­take, and enough feed­back for you to un­der­stand why you’re now in the gravel trap, swear­ing at su­per­cars buzzing past. Whether you locked up the brakes, lost trac­tion, un­bal­anced the car or short-shifted, the hap­tic and au­dio feed­back is there to teach you why it hap­pened.

While we’re on au­dio, plau­dits should go to your race en­gi­neer, who de­liv­ers in­for­ma­tion over race radio with au­then­tic lev­els of awk­ward­ness and de­tach­ment. He is the high­light of a great sound mix that in­cludes con­vinc­ing gravel rat­tling in your wheel­houses, track­side PA sys­tems blar­ing out mu­sic and fright­en­ing thuds when con­tact’s made.

On track

Vis­ually it oc­cu­pies that same rar­efied air of the orig­i­nal AC and of

Project Cars, where ev­ery head­lamp’s re­flec­tion has been lov­ingly re­alised, ev­ery spon­sor logo is clear and driver arm an­i­ma­tions sell the heft and hard­ship of co­erc­ing a GT car through cor­ners. The in-hel­met view is the best I’ve ever seen of its type, per­fectly nail­ing the G-force ef­fect.

Your cun­ning doesn’t get much of a work­out from the AI, though. They’re as pacy as the dif­fi­culty slider dic­tates, but they’re rarely seen jostling for po­si­tion. This be­ing en­durance rac­ing, per­haps it’s an at­tempt at au­then­tic­ity, but at this stage they feel… well, ar­ti­fi­cial.

That’s the story for those with a rac­ing wheel: ro­bust if lim­ited sim rac­ing with a crunchy learn­ing curve. For gamepad rac­ers, and the few peo­ple still us­ing their key­boards, it’s a rougher ex­pe­ri­ence. Those con­trol meth­ods have yet to be im­ple­mented with any great fi­nesse, so tap­ping the left ana­log stick one way or another results in great saw­ing ac­tions on the steer­ing wheel that desta­bilise the car and ef­fec­tively im­pose an ‘Ine­bri­ated’ mode, a bit like Nico and Ro­man’s drives home after an evening of beers and bowling in GTA IV.

This be­ing Early Ac­cess, suc­cess or fail­ure is an on­go­ing nar­ra­tive for

Com­pe­tizione. Only the truly ded­i­cated need bother get­ting in on the ground floor now, but any­one with a soft spot for an of­fi­cial rac­ing li­cence, how­ever es­o­teric, will be re­warded by Com­pe­tizione’s

au­then­tic­ity. It feels sim­i­lar enough to its pre­de­ces­sor that you won­der whether this might have made more sense as an ex­pan­sion, but as the roadmap’s ticked off and mul­ti­player rac­ing is in­tro­duced, there should be enough here to sus­tain a small but ded­i­cated com­mu­nity.

Any de­gree of over­steer or trac­tion loss is ter­ri­fy­ing in its Blanc­pain cars


Mus­cu­lar race sim­ming, but it’s too early on the roadmap to get in­volved just yet.

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