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GEAR. CLUB UNLIMITED 2
The arrival of the Nintendo Switch in 2017 was a gamechanger, bringing portable gaming back but at a much more powerful level than seen before. Uptake from developers outside of Nintendo’s own franchises has been a slowburner, which meant there was a wide-open goal for a racing game to steal an early march.
Unfortunately, Microids’ Gear. Club Unlimited 2 hit the post twice before blasting the shot over the crossbar after its first attempt with Switch. The biggest criticism is that the game plays like a low-budget mobile title, to the point that an offering such as EA’S Real Racing is vastly superior to the Switch game, despite being played on a touchscreen smartphone.
The fact Gear.club has noticeable performance struggles in handheld mode, and lags to your control input, makes it unplayable on the go. In short, it feels like a poor mobile game on a high-end console.
The chief gripe with the game is a poor handling system, although it could be argued that the Switch’s dual-sticks lack the precision of an Xbox One or a Playstation 4. But regardless, races were spent deciding where was best to side-swipe a wall and lose minimal time, having given up all expectation of braking properly. Even the art of tapping the brakes and preloading the car before applying the full stopping power into a corner was a wasted effort.
It’s clearly a problem because even the pre-set driving aids are flummoxed. It’s even tried to apply braking in wheel-to-wheel combat, but it ends up being the biggest hindrance to overtaking by continually slamming the brakes on when drafting. You have to turn all aids off if you want to compete in this game.
A racing game lives and dies by its feel, whether it’s arcade or a simulation style racer, and Gear.club falls short to the point it detracts heavily from the positives.
The most impressive element of the game is the design, with races through Europeanflavoured towns, mountain ranges and deserts managing to cleverly look as though they are living and breathing despite the Switch’s graphical limitations.
The enjoyment in this game will come through range, with a claimed 1800 miles of track and 250 competitive events, given variety by mixing the format between races, sprints and time trials.
It’s so good it deserves a fully open world, which the game teases with its maps but never lets you experience.
There’s a lot to be said for a racing game attempting to incorporate a story of sorts, something Motorsport News argues should be considered more by developers.
But this one hits every cliche possible: earning a shock chance in a racing team, impressing a doubtful boss and competing in a series of races in a linear, dot-to-dot style progression.
The fact the story is told through comic-book style images and speech bubbles makes the story of little interest. Fans of TOCA 2’ s drama, turn away now. Slow loading times make you all the less likely to persevere as well.
Car selection is sizeable, although the motorsport offering is small – a surprise, considering the story is centred around a racing team.
Customisation is decent, with a range of performance-based updates and vinyl wraps to make your motor stand out from the crowd – not that there’s any multiplayer option for others to see your work.
If you’re one of the adopters of the Switch and need your racing fix, it would appear 2019’s re-release of Grid is the next chance for a racing game to make it big on Nintendo’s console.
Considering Gear.club’s mobile roots have barely been disguised, asking over 50 quid for the game is daft considering more mobile-esque offerings on the Nintendo eshop are less than half the price of that.
Most impressive element of Gear.club Unlimited 2 is the design