Racing nuts without a proper PC were in for a hard time as Assetto Corsa initially launched, as well received simulation has taken its sweet time arriving on console. Needless to say the news of Kuno Simulazioni and 505 Games bringin the game consoles as well was music to the ears of many console racing enthusiasts. After all, reviews and feedback claimed that this was the ultimate racing simulator experience. Sufficed to say, our expectations were rather high for this one. The gaming industry has many heavy hitters in this genre, with Project Cars, Forza, iRacing and Gran Turismo being the most notable among them. Can Assetto Corsa really match those, and even beat them?
At the beginning we're met by great looking videos featuring a wide selection of cars before we even reach the menus. Those menus however strike me as a bit old-fashioned, but they still contain exactly what we want to see. Custom events, career mode and quick play, as well as settings, which is needed in a racing simulatore. The only negative point we find here is that there's little info about the different cars. The folks behind Assetto Corsa are obviously racing nuts, and it was surprising that they haven included more details about the beautiful machines.
The Career mode consists of what we are accustomed to from games like this. You start with weak cars and steadily build up towards the proper octane monster. Here we also came across a problem with the game. We would never not claim that we're the best simulation driver around, but we've played games like this one for years. Still, even on easy we ended up in last place on our ninth race in career mode, with a string of equally embarrasing resulst behind us. In other words, the difficulty is sky high in this one, but luckily it does not prevent us from progressing our career. You don't have to win every race to move ahead. So in the end it's just our pride that's getting hurt, but we do feel that the difficulty setting should be tweaked here, at least when it's set to easy. If you're brand new to games like this Assetto Corsa will be a brutal experience.
And on top of that the special events are even harder. The difficulty is insane, but it is all the more enjoyable when you finally succeed. There's also plenty of variety as you can race against the AI, other players, do time attacks, hot lap or drifting, whatever you fancy the most.
Yes, you read that right. Drifting is a part of Assetto Corsa, and for many players the game will be worth the investment solely on this fact. We're big fan of drifting in racing games and were extra eager to see how Kunos Simulazioni had solved this. The answer? They absolutely crushed it! It's hard to find the superlatives to describe the feeling you get when sliding around a tight corner with the tire smoke forming an impressive tail behind you. It's simply awesome!
In fact, this is a very good racing game all in all. The developers has researched wjat driving cars fast really feels like, and then converted it to the digital realm expertly. We can honestly say that this is the best racing simulator we have played, ever. It's spot on, and we're not just tallking about the drifting now. In all races you can really feel that you are in control of the car. Even with a regular controller, and not a racing wheel, you can feel it the exact moment when your tires looses tracktion. If you do have a racing wheel and pedals, this feeling is multiplied, and we now totally understand why many people considered the PC version of this to be the best racing simulator ever.
Due to the level of simulation on display here, your surroundings naturally affects how the cars behave. The traction is distintly weaker on grass compared to asphalt. Heated tirer grip far better than cold ones. Worn tirer release their grip easier than fresh tires. It just feels right, and we were sad to learn that rainy conditions were not part of the game. We would have loved to have been able to see how this impressive game engine handled the water.
As far as graphics go, Assetto Corsa also performs well in this area, with a few exceptions. You can drive right through the crew at the pitstop, and collisions leaves much to be decired in terms of visuals. You can hardly see that something went wrong, even after crashes that would have crushed the cars in real life. These are small things that don't affect gameplay drastically, but they still have to be mentioned. After collisions, the driving capabilities of the cars often change, as they should. There's no indication of what's wrong though, so you can't really tell if it's simply the tires that are getting worn or if something more serious has happen. This can be annoying, but we suppose it's quite realistic.
Furthermore the cars aren't quite as well crafted as in say the Forza Motorsport titles, but they are still pretty darn beautiful. The sounds however, Kunos Simulazioni have nailed this. We may not have had the honour of hearing a Pagani Zonda R or a BMW M3 E30 in real life, but we have heard them on TV and they sound exactly the same in the game.
In conclusion this is the perfect game for people who love racing simulators. It's brutally hard however, and not a game where you can miss a turn or two and still win. You'll have to drive perfectly in order to finish first, which probably will scare off more casual players. Assetto Corsa is a game that demands full focus and patience, but it's all the more rewarding once you get the hang of it. Assetto Corsa has its limitations, but it shines ever so bright in the most important areas. If you like racing simulators you definitely don't want to miss this one!