Usually, when a creation is universally-criticized and the creators decide to go at it again a second time, the expectation is that the follow-up will actually be an improvement. As such, I had a sliver of hope that Gear.Club Unlimited 2 would deliver. I should mention that I’ve never played the original Gear.Club Unlimited. Its lackluster reviews and unjustified price turned me towards Fast RMX instead. Though, initially, as the first realistic racer on the Switch, I had had a lot of hope for that game. But, it ended up as nothing more than a sub-par mobile port. So, how about the sequel?
Prior to playing, I was once again intrigued (albeit only mildly) since developer Eden Games proudly announced Gear.Club Unlimited 2 as a Switch exclusive. However, despite the team focusing only on the Switch this time around, this is yet another lackluster mobile-like experience, rather than a fully-fledged console racer.
My experience with Gear.Club Unlimited 2 was rough straight out of the gate due to the starting vehicle, a Mini Cooper. In many racing games, you regularly start with a simple car that’s light on horsepower before gradually working your way up to better vehicles. This formula is also present in Gear.Club Unlimited 2, but the starting vehicles are very frustrating to drive due to their poor handling. The beginning of anything should always be engaging, so as not to turn people away. Still, I pushed onward to see if it would get any better. After several hours, it did improve, but that payoff was short-lived.
After gaining enough funds, I bought a Nissan 370Z—an iconic street car. Like in other games, it’s actually pretty fun to drive here. So, what happened? Well, the upgrade system. As you progress through different Tours, you’ll eventually hit a level cap determined by the performance level of your car. If your car is too weak, or too overpowered, it won’t qualify for the race. So, I upgraded the 370Z, only for the steering to become far too twitchy. The handling issues were reminiscent of my experience with the Mini Cooper. Cornering wasn’t fluid, and my brakes felt weak. This made no sense: upgrades are meant to improve a car, after all.
I wondered if the problem was really the game or just my driving. So, I tried out the test drive feature, which is available to all cars in the showroom. I took the Bugatti Veyron out for a spin; one of the highest-performance cars in the world. Sure enough, it’s a speeding bullet. But, surprisingly, it also handled relatively well. So, it seems that Gear.Club Unlimited 2 just has grossly unbalanced driving mechanics. Cars like the Veyron cost millions of in-game dollars, and take several hours to unlock. This is a racing game. I should be compelled to race by having fun, not just because I want to access actually-drivable cars. The shoddy mechanics wasn’t just affecting me, either. On many occasions, I even observed the AI ramming into corners, indicating an issue with the core game itself.
Gear.Club Unlimited 2 continues to fall short in basically every other area. The presentation is quite lackluster. Despite occasionally decent lighting, this looks like an upgraded Wii game rather than a 2018 Switch title. Even mobile games like Asphalt 9 and older games like GRID look miles better. Despite the simple visuals, the framerate dips below its 30 FPS cap in many areas, though it stays fairly stable when racing.
Vehicle models look okay, but that illusion deteriorates once you move up-close. There’s also no cockpit view, despite the interiors being modeled. Environments look quite bland. There are static backgrounds, and you never interact with puddles, mud, or even a whole lot of jumps. Each race takes place in a small section of a large map, so the same environmental themes (canyon, snowy mountains, forest, and coast) are re-used constantly. The game boasts having over 250 races, but none of the tracks are memorable for this same reason. Long loading times are the cherry on top of this poorly-optimized package.
Overall, Gear.Club Unlimited is pretty much a missed opportunity. Eden Games took a second chance, but this may as well be a content update to the first game since virtually no real improvements have been made. This is, absurdly, a $60 title, vastly outclassed by similarly-priced games like Forza Horizon 4. Take a detour and wait for other racers like V-Rally 4 and GRID; this is just a tire blowout.
Release Date: Dec 04, 2018
No. of Players: 1-2 players
Category: Racing, Simulation
Developer: Eden Games
The publisher provided a code for this review.
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