Last year Eden Games attempted to bring a semi-simulation racing game to the Switch; with mixed results. With its mobile roots being very obvious, it wasn’t a title you wanted to spend $60 bucks on. In an awfully quick turn around time, Eden Games have returned to the world of Gear.Club Unlimited with a sequel. It’s unfortunate that the game is no better than last year.
The Gear.Club Unlimited series began life as a mobile game with microtransactions. With the release on the Switch, they removed those microtransactions and dubbed it Unlimited. It wasn’t a terrible game, but it wasn’t a great game. You could see they had a base there to build upon. Physics could be improved, track design, graphics, and so on. It was a good first attempt but I was looking for more. After some time with the sequel, a lot of my issues with the first are still present. Plus there are even more to boot this time around.
The first Gear.Club Unlimited did a good job leading me to believe there is more to the game than what was under the hood. I remember looking at screens thinking that this could be Forza Horizon-like in its presentation, but it wasn’t. From first glance in Unlimited 2, you could think the same. They have another giant map with roads that are highlighted. In reality, it’s just a gussied up selection screen. If you take out the assumption that there might be an open world, the menu functions like something out of an old Arcade racer. Highlight the race you want to partake in and it shows you the race course layout and environment. Along with that, you’ll find all the auto shops on the map to buy the more than 50 officially-licensed cars from and your performance shop to do upgrades.
Gear.Club Unlimited 2 does try to hook you with an involved career mode. There’s a storyline following you as a test driver for a racing manufacturer. They throw you in a Mini at the last minute to replace one of their main racers who had to leave for some reason or another. You drive and do well and naturally, must take over racing because you’re some racing prodigy. You could easily pour a lot of time into the career if you’re interested in the story, but you probably won’t because the game is so slow. Navigating menus is a drag, it’s unfortunate that most of your time will be spent there. From going to the map to the garage to the auto shops, it just takes forever to do anything. Then there is the load times, my god the load times. Doesn’t matter what screens you’re navigating to, it just takes forever. I did not take a stopwatch to it, but at its longest, it certainly felt like I could put the Switch down, boot up Forza Motorsport and do a few laps before the game finished loading. It’s bad.
One area Gear.Club Unlimited 2 does attempt to improve over its predecessor is in its visuals. Cars look crisp and lighting seems to have improved. It feels more natural and gives the game a nice look. Factor that with the more varied environments and you might wonder how something like this can run on a Switch. But once in a race, the performance obviously suffers. While the game aims for 30 frames per second, things dip at times. It’s not as noticeable docked, but in handheld, it’s more apparent. It’s all over the place too. You’ll notice it in races, menus, and even the performance shop. Unfortunately the driving hasn’t improved any either. At first it felt as if they may have improved things. That is until I actually had to make a sharp turn or quickly maneuver around a car. It still commits one of the greatest sins of a racing game, cars that drive like they have a pole stabbed through the middle. It wasn’t noticeable at first but once I had to actually slow down for turns and crank that car left or right, it started to feel like the first game again. If you happen to hit a wall or another car, The tail end will slide out and will once again rubber band itself back to the center position upon correction. As with the first game, this was a physics wide issue as no matter the car I drove, it was there and wasn’t enjoyable to play. They did keep the great rewind feature introduced in the first game; I wish more racing titles would follow this way of doing the rewind. Basically, you can hold the rewind down and stop at any point you’d like. This as opposed to how games like Forza does it where they rewind you to a pre-determined point.
The first game’s “bread and butter” you could say, has returned in the sequel. The performance shop is unique in that it asks the player to customize a hangar/warehouse area. It gives the game a little personal touch and it’s something you’ll actually utilize since you’ll need to head back here to do upgrades or car customizing. They still ask you to drag and drop cars around so not much has changed there. The only new addition is the graphics workshop. They let you apply custom vinyls to cars. It’s not Forza’s livery editor but it’s a good attempt.
If you get tired of Career, you can jump into the online mode. Unfortunately, as with the previous title, direct online racing is not available at launch. Instead, the same League system where you compete time trials against ghost opponents is what’s available. There are plans of an update to do synchronous races though.
I really wanted to like my time with the sequel; really hoping that they would improve upon the first game. Instead, it’s slow, frustrating, and dull. For all the things the game tries to do right, there’s just more that hampers your experience. If you disliked the first game, this one will not bring you in and if you enjoyed the first, I may still pass on this unless they fix things via patches.
A Switch eShop code was provided by the publisher for review purposes