Assetto Corsa brings another option to gamers of next-gen consoles, after being released on PC two years ago, with a refined professional racing simulation. Using laser scanning technology, developers KUNOS Simulazioni bring you 24 track configurations from 15 famous tracks around the world including Silverstone, Barcelona, Spa Francorchamps, and Nordschleife, to name a few. You're provided nearly 100 cars from the top car manufacturers like Ferrari, Mclaren, Audi, BMW, Pagani, and Lotus to best both the tracks and your opponents.
There is planned DLC in the future on consoles; the season pass can be purchased for $29.99 and will include over 30 new cars, an exclusive livery, and tracks, but you can buy the full game now on Steam for $44.99, PlayStation Store for $49.99, or Xbox Marketplace for $49.99.
Gameplay and Controls
Concepts regarding track racing are pretty easy to grasp, but each game's specific handles require a little more time. Stay on the track or get hit with timed penalties, and finish first place. Simple enough, but as mentioned, you must grasp how this specific title's gameplay operates. You can turn on/off the option to have a race line. For those unfamiliar with track racing games, this will show you the most ideally efficient line to drive on; it'll show you how wide to enter a turn, when to change to the outside of the track depending on what kind of turn will be next, and a constant color coded speed check (green shows you can speed up, yellow shows you should begin deceleration, and red shows you are probably going too fast and will slide outside of the track lines).
Racing lines are blueprints for domination in this game, though, and the AI follows it like it was a guide to get rich quick. You'll find little to no respect from them, and they will gladly take the opportunity to smash into you from behind, causing you to spin out (excusable only if the developers included an option to fist fight the offending driver, which they obviously didn't). This can become either frustrating to deal with or somewhat awkwardly encouraging to go faster.
If you drive outside of the race lines, you'll be struck with a harsh penalty that forced you to wait for 10 to sometimes 20 seconds before you can press the gas pedal again. Pressing the throttle, or ignoring it all together will prevent the penalty from counting down, and if not acknowledged by the end of the race, you will face stiff time totals or even disqualification. Even acknowledging the penalty results is a huge change in split times by the time the race is over, so it can automatically act as a disqualifying mistake.
Racing can be viewed in a few different camera views: third-person behind the vehicle, first-person from the driver's perspective, dash cam, and bumper cam. The UI display is a little screen flooding with displays that some are arguably unimportant, and most will probably prefer it to be turned off or limited, especially those looking for the deep simulation feel. There is a measure of vehicle damage that plays a role in the races and extends further than just cosmetic. Technical damages will affect racing performances, but due to the depth of setting options, this can be increased or decreased in how detrimental.
The game can be effortlessly played with normal controllers or the steering wheel compatible with your system of choice. I was able to use them in my time of playing and found that both offer a great deal of control over the car. Everything was smooth, and outside of the drift mode, you never had to worry about the car spinning out due to overly loose controls. Each car feels unique to itself and dually will control uniquely different than any other car. The attention to detail in this respect is a major plus for the game and will challenge you every time you switch between classes or upgrade tiers in career mode.
As in any track racing game, there is no true story, but a Career mode option for those who are looking to venture into a longer road to fame. It provides the standard structure of progression; race in the bottom level tiers and work your way up the ladder, acquiring access to stronger cars to be entered into the higher tiers. The heart and soul of the game lie in the Special Events. There are dozens of pre-set races to enter into, with the goal to eventually win them all. You'll find many of the race types below to be the race objectives (even drifting challenges).
The other possible game modes you can visit include Practice (where you'll find helpful to start from in order to learn the feel of the game), Quick Race (to jump right into the action), Hotlap (to best your own times and fight for leaderboard ranks), Time Attack (a series of timed laps around the track), Drift (gain points by drifting every corner possible), Online (test your skills against others in private or public matches), and Race Weekend (qualify for series events and compete for the championship).
Sound and Graphics
The quality of sound found within this racing simulator is phenomenal and probably one of the games strongest points. The strong growl of the engines as they roar with every tap of the throttle and each car with its unique tones and varied amounts of spitting backfires make it feel like you are live at the track. The turbos and supers charge and disperse their racing prowess with the lovely sound that is a pure whining strength. You not only feel the power under the hood but hear it too.
Engines are not the only things immersing to hear as you race; when you break as you prepare to enter a turn, you'll hear the road under the tires screech softly, and similarly when accelerating, you'll hear them drone as they pull the car up the track at high speeds. I'm not one to fancy most racing games' soundtracks, and this one's is no different (by personal preference and practice), so I found myself turning off the in-game music and playing my own to accompany the sounds of horsepower.
A mixed bag of feelings, the graphics include many promising aspects, but almost just as many negatives. The tracks look to be extremely accurate models of the real ones. The laser scan technology used to build them is everything the developers wanted them to be. Car designs are crisp and clear, but the lack of aesthetic personality can occasionally make them look repetitive and bare.
The weather implemented into the game is sorely lacking; the only options you have are clear, cloudy, and foggy, but all are exclusive to the daytime. It would have been nice to see a rain effect or even perhaps a night option to switch things up. The shining sun does have a beautiful look to it though and is something small to appreciate about the atmosphere in the game. Sun rays will shine through the trees and also your windshield, putting that annoying but realistic glare on the glass.
Assetto Corsa as a whole is a terrific racing simulation that offers professional and authentic racing experiences but misses the mark that would make it a debatable favorite among the many options available. It provides an accurate simulation of the multiple world-renown circuits and the best cars you can imagine to burn rubber on them. The nearly 100 cars available allow enough diversity and uniqueness to avoid feeling like every racer is equipped with the same setup.
It's not without its technical flaws here and there, and the game struggles when trying to hold with the targeted 60 frames-per-second, but it makes up for it in the aspects of sound, controls and deep car adjustment options. The penalties are stiff and the AI cars feel like they are driven by extras from the movie Deathrace. While it may not be exactly heavily favorited by casual gamers, hardcore racing fans will find it to be a great challenge.
|+ High-quality sound||– No car garage or personal aesthetic customization|
|+ Tight controls||– AI drivers cause wipeouts frequently|
|+ Special Events game mode is addicting||– Penalty system unbalanced|
|+ Deep mechanical adjustment of cars||– No real variation of weather|