Gear.Club Unlimited 2 Switch Review: Arcade Racing Excellence

Gear.Club Unlimited 2 is an arcade racer built ground up for the Switch. This is the first time ever that a Nintendo system has had a slew of good racing games and the first time in a long while that Nintendo has an exclusive car racing game that isn’t a mouldy turnip on wheels.

Drive real life, licensed super cars.

The best way to describe the gameplay in Gear.Club 2 is like a mix between Drive Club and a 2000s Need for Speed game. It has a great sense of speed, smooth flowing tracks built out of a single huge map with a few distinct areas, indestructible cars with no damage model and gorgeous real life sports, super, hyper and muscle cars to race.

You’ll see a lot of roundabouts but they flow well.

There’s no over the top arcade action here but the races are fast and thrilling (once you get to the point there’s actually a challenge, and don’t upgrade your car much). The good ole arcade smash and grab overtakes and bumping off walls round the tight bends never get boring. It’s quite a strange physics model with the handling of the cars being heavy and the collisions with other cars being light making the cars feel like you’re in an extremely sporty and responsive turbocharged Lamborghini tractor one minute and a cardboard box on wheels the next. It doesn’t take long to get used to the strange physics and you’ll soon be roaring round the tracks exploiting it with cheeky overtakes and smashing sideways into the barriers so you do not need to brake as much for bends.

The racing line would tell you the wall isn’t the fastest route. It’s wrong.

As you you’d expect from an arcade game Gear.Club 2 lacks analogue acceleration but it has got motion control steering and it’s done very well, it’s smooth without needing to turn the Switch so far you can’t see, but the camera angle does stay put rather than leaning with you. I actually I prefer this as I’ve only played one game that really got the shifting camera angle with motion controls right.

There’s some basic car upgrades and decal design.

The length of the races are perfect for handheld play ranging from about 2-5 minutes however the loading times are longer than your average COD player claims their wang is. The races all feel very similar with corner types repeated all over the place. The whole game felt like one big asphalt rally but that’s often how arcade games are, Outrun only has 3 types of corners and no one complains at that because the gameplay stands up, as it does here. There are ‘off road” races in Gear.Club 2 but the gravel has been bulldozed smooth like a ski run that’s been groomed so there’s still some bumps but it’s all very smooth and offers grip that puts England’s real life tarmacked roads to shame. Strangely the CPU are really quick on off road stages and will out accelerate you easily even when your cars rating is much higher than theirs.

A fully upgraded car can win off road but even then it’s tricky.

A feature adding great accessibility and removing the frustration from racing games is the rewind, which is unlimited (maybe that’s what the unlimited stands for in the title, Gear.Club Unlimited Rewinds isn’t quite so snappy). Oddly but most welcome for an arcade racer are the driving assists. This is a fantastic idea to add accessibility to the game as you can add brake, anti-skid and steering assists (all on sliders), along with auto accelerate. You can then turn the racing line on and motion controls giving someone the opportunity to play the whole game just by gently turning the Switch to steer and everything else is handled for them. Using these controls is quite hard to actually win though as the assists make the car so stable and slow, I came 3rd when I had a go after I had been winning every single event except my very first when I first played which I also came 3rd. I did find it crazy how much faster I could go with traction control set to 50% (one 3 minute race I was 5 seconds faster), making me long for analogue stick acceleration. Another oddity as when playing with manual gears when you rewind it starts again with you one gear higher and if you counter this by changing down during the restart then you can’t change gear anymore at all and have to switch to automatic to finish the race.

Time to rewind.

The career mode has you working your way through championships progressing to better and faster cars while upgrading your cars and your garage. It might seem obvious but to 100% the game you need to win every race if every championship but that ruins the beauty of championships to me because they present the opportunity for super close racing where you can win overall without having to win every race creating a far more thrilling experience, however you can progress by coming 3rd in each championship. These championships are rather easy but if you want something harder there’s the show off championships where you win a rivals car at the end and big money exhibition races.

You’ll soon have loads of events to choose from

Like most modern arcade racers you can join a club that gives you extra perks such as unlocking extra money for races and league races which are daily online time trial events culminating in a week long league. I absolutely love the league’s as it’s a great reason to keep playing and despite Gear.Club 2 launching last year there are lots of people still playing leagues.

There’s a few options for customising your garage.

The cars look fantastic and it’s great to see some cars you don’t often see in racing games such as the Lotus Eleven. The only views available are bumper,close chase and far chase.

You get a nice look at your cars before each race.

While all the tracks do feel similar there are 4 different environments to race through including a rocky desert and French Alps style snowy mountains and different times of day mixing things up further and keeping the visuals fresh.

Perfect overtake.

The 50 something cars all roar in their own way and you’ll regularly be hearing tyres squealing in pain as well as glass shattering and chassis crunching as you slam into the barriers (despite there not even being visual damage). The soundtrack however is extremely limited with just a very few rock and techno songs, you will hear the same tunes over and over even just at the beginning of the game.

A few cars you can add after market parts.

With over 250 races in career mode and being forced to use multiple cars gives you plenty to do in Gear.Club Unlimited 2 and that’s even before the excellent online leagues. In a world of crazily realistic racing sims and sim-cade, it’s refreshing to play a fast and furious feeling racing game that doesn’t need precision pinpoint accuracy and where crashing really doesn’t matter because it either doesn’t really slow you down too much or you just rewind. 

A huge thank you to Microids for providing the review code. Gear.Club Unlimited 2 is available now both physically and digitally for £54.99/$59.99/€59.99 so definitely one to get a physical copy of.

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