Assetto Corsa has finally raced on to Xbox One, after several delays – but was it worth the wait?
Developed by Kunos Simulazioni, a small studio hoping to rise through the racing sim ranks, Assetto Corsa already has a strong reputation in the PC gaming world, but now it’s finally been ported over to the Xbox One, bringing with it a purely racing mentality. Need for Speed this ain’t. The game is marketed as ‘your racing simulator’, which confused us since initially we found the game to be very arcade-like in its handling and set-up.
This cast doubts in our mind about the full ‘playability’ of the simulator. After a few hours, however, we found that it’s made for top-end racing simulation fans. As such, be prepared to be disappointed in your very first race – it’s not easy to win, as we found out with our numerous encounters with tyre walls and barriers. You have to find the sweet spot and the precise limit you can push each car you drive.
The game’s menus are as streamlined as a racing car – and personalisation is just as sparse, lacking the high-level car customisation seen in racing rivals such as Forza Motorsport and Project Cars. Once on the main screen, you have six basic options to choose: Special Events, Drive, Career, News, Replay and Options. The game modes within are a little on the light side too, with Practice (which we strongly recommend), Special Events, Quick Race, Race Weekend, Online, Hot Lap, Time Attack and fan favourite, Drift. Of them all, Special Events mode seemed to be the only one that seems designed strictly for racers, testing your racing sim skills through challenges pre-set by the developers, using a wide range of car classes and eras.
Career mode sees you start at the bottom of the racing ranks – and yes, you get to race in a roller-skate (Ok, it’s an Fiat 500 Abarth) – and work your way up to pole position. Each event must be completed to unlock the next, and each tier/mode offers you improved cars to compete in and new events, from singles to Championships. But Career mode will absolutely push you to the limit. It took us several attempts to progress from the first level of the novice category.
We might knock the lack of customisation, but there’s still some form of it in the game, as befits Assetto Corsa’s simulation ambitions. You can change parts of the car, altering the dampers and even the gear ratios. Once you’re happy with the tweaks you’ve made to each vehicle, you can save it or keep working under the hood some more. This is where Practice mode really comes in handy, to test drive your cars – play around and you’ll be rewarded with gold medals and achievements.
Assetto Corsa has over 90 tailored cars to choose from, each with their own unique handling and factory set-ups. This relatively small stable may be off-putting when others in the genre offer 200+ vehicles, but we sense this is more to do with the inevitable DLC that will offer additional cars. There’s already a £23.99 season pass available. Having said that, we think there’s just enough here to sink your teeth into, alongside 26 different track configurations, including legendary circuits such as Silverstone, Monza, Nürburgring, and Nordschleife – each lovingly recreated using laser scanning technology.
Visually, Assetto Corsa looks the part, with the details on and inside the cars closely matching Forza Motorsport 6 levels of detail. Sadly, the 60 FPS that Kunos Simulazioni were targeting just isn’t there – or rather, it’s all over the place. Racing around in a number of cars, we saw a few screen tears, and even noticeable jagged edges on the race track when switching to bumper and bonnet cam. Couple that with poor draw distance on some circuits, and features such as grass and gravel coming across like last-minute extras, and the tracks have a flat and unreal appearance that breaks immersion. More attention needed here.
But, from a strictly racing perspective, we can accept these as minor nit-picks, since your full concentration will be on that ribbon of tarmac, the race, and your rivals. The HUD layout is not intrusive, holding the right level of information needed on-screen (something that should suit all types of racing sim fans). Damage models aren’t too spectacular – some cars just don’t show the damage as well as others, but the HUD indicates which bits you’ve broken through unfriendly shunts (no, rubbing’s not racing). Damage is as you’d expect, ranging from scuffed paint and slight denst in the bodywork to bent steering racks or a dead engine after a high-impact crash. At that point, it’s race over, man. Race over.
As a whole, Assetto Corsa is a competent racing simulator, with a fair price tag for what’s on offer. It may not be the best of its kind now, but with some TLC in the future, it has clear potential to be one of the top racers on console.
Assetto Corsa is available from the Store, priced £39.99
A pure racing simulator that struggles to cross the finish line.
Assetto Corsa is a welcome addition to the console racing sim family, but it’s clear this is a lazy PC port that could’ve use some refinement in the pit-stop before it launched.
Content-wise, it not bulging at the seams – you won’t be spoilt for choice here, but there’s just enough to get you started. At £39.99 digitally, it’s not a bad price for what’s on offer here.