Caution: Speed Bumps Ahead
Gear.Club Unlimited 2 is a reviewer’s dream. Not because it’s a particularly great game, but because the loading screens are so ridiculously long that they provide a golden opportunity for note-taking. In fact, it would probably be an ideal game if you were writing a novel—complete a race; write a chapter; repeat. I’m exaggerating of course, but I really can’t stress enough how much both the duration and frequency of the loading screens detract from what would otherwise be a fairly solid, if not spectacular, experience.
Handling and a sense of speed are important components in a racing game, so when I jumped straight into the impressively lengthy career mode, I was disappointed to find that my car felt slow and heavy, meaning that races aren’t much fun to begin with. To be fair though, I’d put this down to the developer’s attempt at realism—after all, you start off your career with a humble Mini; a car favored by real estate agents and hairdressers. Once you graduate to beefier models from the likes of McLaren and Pagani, things get faster and decidedly more interesting, but the heaviness of the handling remains and even bleeds into the sluggish controls of the UI. There’s adequately enjoyable gameplay to be had here, but arguably too many frustrations get in the way of it.
When you get past those potholes, there’s a good degree of variety in the gameplay, from the traditional race format to the slightly more exciting elimination races where every 20 seconds the car in last place gets eliminated. Driver assists make the racing pretty accessible too, with the easy-to-use rewind function being a particular favourite of mine. Rather than a lapse of judgement costing you the race, errors can be erased from history, allowing you to find the correct racing line and approach speed to make it round a tricky corner. In fact, if Gear.Club 2 would have included more “gamey” touches like this and relinquished their pursuit of realism, the appeal of the game could have been broadened considerably. The impending addition of online multiplayer will no doubt help on that front, too.
The original Gear.Club outing on Switch started life as a mobile game, and although the sequel is a Switch exclusive, it bears all the hallmarks of a mobile port, from the crisp but relatively bland graphics to the generic music and sound effects. Again, I can imagine that having no in-game music during races is perhaps a concession to realism and allows you to fully appreciate the roar of your engine and the screech of your tires, but the flipside is that it makes the experience less exhilarating than it could have been.
Overall, Gear.Club Unlimited 2 is a half-decent attempt at a big-budget style racing sim, but falls short in too many areas to be considered a serious contender. Whilst it offers moments of enjoyment in between those pesky loading screens, the game’s greatest strength is the lack of competition it faces from other racing sims on the platform. So, if Nintendo Switch is your only console and you happen to be a massive petrol head, then Gear.Club Unlimited 2 is worth considering. Everyone else should probably steer clear.