Game Title: Gear Club Unlimited 2
Company: Eden Games, Microids
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availablity: Retail | Digital Download
Battery Life: 3 – 4 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 3.1 GB
Driving Sims have a lot of games who try, but really always boils down to games like Forza on Xbox and Gran Turismo on PlayStation. The rest of the gaming world often relies on smaller developers to create games that are similar to those titles, or rather, similar to the genre.
With the Nintendo Switch, some have tried but we’re still in that community where driving games are mentioned and the first person out of everyone’s mouth is “Mario Kart”. Eden Games took a crack at it last year by bringing their driving sim mobile game, Gear Club, to the Switch as Gear Club “Unlimited”. It was a pretty decent game with some faults, but was still a pretty decent scratch to that driving sim itch that’s been left in the handheld community ever since Gran Turismo PSP came and went.
Now they came back with a game exclusive to the Switch in the same series as Gear Club. Here is my review of Gear Club Unlimited 2 for the Nintendo Switch!
Gear Club Unlimited 2 is a simulation-based racing game with some customization and sim elements thrown into the mix. Like the first game, you have races you can take part in as well as a customizeable Garage/Workshop where you can place and customize workbenches for car upgrades as well as cosmetic items and parking spots.
When it comes down to it, this game does look and feel a lot like its predecessor, so what’s new here? Unlimited 2 brings with it around 250 races in its campaign mode, a vinyl graphic editor (like the one found in Need for Speed 2015 and NFS Payback), and a roster of 51 cars, almost 20 more than the original had.
As far as game modes go, you’ve got Career for your Single Player Campaign and Local Split-screen for Multiplayer, not including the Online Multiplayer feature that still has not been added to the game (but has a place in the Multiplayer Menu). Finally, you’ve got Clubs where you can create a team of players from across the globe to compete in special events with to get daily rewards for everyone involved, both in Multiplayer and Single Player.
With this in mind, Career Mode is the main bulk of the game as it has the most content and you need to buy cars in Career to use them in League/Multiplayer. It is made similar to Career in GCU in that you have a giant map you move a cursor around to select races and events to take part in and you progress through the game. You can also access dealerships to test drive and buy new cars and go to the Performance Shop to modify and upgrade for future races.
Progression through the game is pretty simple. The campaign is divided into Race Tiers that require specific types of cars to go through. With a dealer for each tier, the game has you buy a car from a selection of about 4 or 5 to do those races until you reach the next tier and the next dealership. It’s a pretty simple way to progress and a way to get players accustomed to several cars from the game’s roster rather than just their favorite one.
However, there is a bit of a bump in the road when it comes to progression. GCU2 is a very grindy game. Not in terms of doing races for each new tier, but for doing optional races constantly for money for upgrades. By the time you get to the 2nd or 3rd main tier of the game, it becomes very clear that you can’t just grab a new car and go straight to the races (There’s even an NPC that will blatantly call you out on it if you don’t upgrade before a certain race). They’re built for upgraded cars from the get-go, so grab a car and race quickly turns into grab a car and grind optional races to get the money to fully upgrade the car and -then- go to the races.
Now, when you actually start racing, things feel really nice. They went into a ton of detail to make the cars look and seem as realistic as they could. All of the cars’ stock specs match the specs of the actual cars all the way down to the engine’s base Horsepower pre-upgrades and they all feel very different not only from other cars but also from upgrade to upgrade. Granted, a few of the cars do sound a bit too similar to some others, overall, the amount of detail is done pretty well.
In terms of content and length, there’s definitely more here than the first game. All of the races are now 3-5 minutes a piece instead of 1-2 and there are 250 races instead of 200. Without taking into account grinding and creative types’ spending hours in the vinyl graphic editor (like I did), that gives you around 15-20 hours of racing that will easily turn into 30+ when you do take the grinding into account for those needed upgrades.
Controlling the game isn’t all that hard to do. The Left Analog Stick is used for steering along with the Arrow Buttons / D-Pad. You can accelerate with ZR and brake with ZL (you can also do this with A and B when transmission is set to Automatic). The L and R triggers are used for using the mirror and changing the camera angle.
Then you’ve got the face buttons. As before, A and B can be used for the gas and brakes in Automatic Mode but they’re used for shifting in Manual Mode. X is used for the Rewind feature and Y is used for the Handbrake.
The control scheme is pretty easy to learn, but there is one consistent hiccup here: Input Lag. Whether you’re using button controls or motion controls, handheld mode or the Pro Controller, every action has a consistent amount of input lag between hitting a button and the action recognizing and doing its thing. The good thing is that it’s consistent and can be easily adjusted to. The bad thing is that it’s input lag.
Graphically, I don’t have a lot of complaints. There are jaggies here and there on the car models, but overall, it looks pretty nice and detailed, especially on the cars.
Performance, though, does have a few hiccups. The good news here is that the consistent frame drops from launch have been fixed, so driving is nice and smooth. On the downside, though, there are very long load times and a good amount of hanging and lag when going from menu to menu. It’s not gonna mess up your driving, but it’s a tad annoying.
Battery Life I expected a lot out of considering the first game had pretty good stats. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 01 minute
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 12 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 45 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 56 minutes
So it’s around the same as GCU1, which was pretty decent.
In conclusion, Gear Club Unlimited 2 is a pretty decent driving simulator. It’s a lot like the original and definitely has some issues with being grindy along with some lag and the still-missing Online mode. But if you like driving sims and especially Vinyl Graphic Editors, it’s got a log for gear heads to love. It’s certainly no Forza, but it’s not a bad alternative.
Final Score: 6.5/10