Assetto Corsa Review: Realistic Racing Simulator
Today, August 30th, 2016, marks the release of one of the most realistic racing sims on PS4 and Xbox One – Assetto Corsa. The game has been in development for quite some time and began its journey in November 2013 on Steam’s Early Access.
Since then the game has been significantly upgraded and remodeled to fit the modern graphics standards for current-gen consoles. However, many hardcore fans of the game consider this to be the wrong move by the developers.
AC is a game that requires precision and mastery, while most PC users consider that the shift to consoles will casualize the game, and thus dumb it down. Let’s try and figure out if that’s true in this review.
Changes to the menu
The first thing that you notice, when you start Assetto Corsa on a console, is a completely new design of the menu. It is very slick and modern-looking, it’s also not as complicated as the PC version, but resembles a more simple and intuitive type of navigation.
As you browse through the Garage, you will see that there are 102 cars available from the start, which do not include several DLC packs from the PC version, such as the Japanese Pack. So, it looks like the rest of the cars will be delivered later with the upcoming expansions.
The game not only feels realistic, it also looks realistic.
If you expect to create a custom livery for your car, like in Forza series, then you will be disappointed – there are only a few set liveries for each of the car in Assetto Corsa and no customization is available.
Also, the number of tracks is quite underwhelming with only 12 of them in the game. If you compare it to other racing games, then this number should be at least 20. However, all tracks were laser-scanned on their original locations and look really great.
Game modes and challenges
The Special Events and Career modes are the most exciting challenges in Assetto Corsa. Especially the Career, which isn’t just built around upgrading your car through a series of events, like in most other racing sims, but involves a whole number of various tasks and specials that always keep things fresh.
How about online racing mode? Well, this is where it’s not that exciting, as the console version doesn’t have the Private Lobbies anymore. The reason is that on PC version users have opportunities to modify settings of their private servers, while consoles rely on the default servers that cannot be customized.
On the other hand, the Drifting mode is awesome and really shows that the console experience of Assetto Corsa is just as good as the one on PC. The physics, the controls and the sense of speed/movement are all top notch.
Graphics and sound design
It is amazing how such a small team as Kunos Simulazioni managed to make Assetto Corsa look so good on consoles. Actually, this is probably one of the best looking racing sims that are currently available on PS4 and Xbox One.
The game not only feels realistic, it also looks realistic without all the fancy visual effects that you can often see in other racing sims, such as motion blur in Project Cars. On top of that, you will notice smaller details, such as tiny patches of dirt on the wheels and varied intensity of a shaky cam on different surfaces that really add up to the overall experience.
This is probably one of the best looking racing sims that are currently available on PS4 and Xbox One.
However, things don’t seem as good in the sound department, which is a typical problem of most racing games. The main reason is that it is extremely difficult to reproduce the genuine sound of the engines of the cars using digital plug-ins.
Obviously, monsters like Microsoft can afford hiring the most expensive professionals in the industry and deliver the authentic engine sounds in the Forza series. But Kunos Simulazioni simply don’t have the budget to do the same in Assetto Corsa. So, expect a lot of irritating synthetic engine sounds throughout the game.
Controls and settings
This is one of those sensitive matters that will make a lot of fans rage over. It seems like the development team have decided not to include a vast majority of fine adjustments to your controller wheel in the console version. The PC settings are top notch and proved to be very comfortable, while the controls in the console version are completely stripped down.
Another drawback is that you can’t change video settings during the racing session. It means that you need to end the session and restart the race from scratch. This is not convenient at all and doesn’t allow for a quick change of settings to identify which of them suit you the best.
On the positive side, the Garage settings are transferred without any changes from the PC version and that is a huge deal, since Garage is the area where new players can learn everything about the cars’ mechanisms and aerodynamics.
Truly competitive AI
The AI in Assetto Corsa has experienced some powerful changes since the launch of the original PC version. It is so much harder right now and can easily put to shame even the most dedicated and experienced players.
There are four degrees of difficulty settings, and if you want to compete on the hardest one, you really need to embrace the Garage settings to their maximum, as every little detail will play an important role in the races against the AI.
Also, if you’re not careful on the tracks, your car will be damaged and this can easily finish your run.
So, is Assetto Corsa on consoles a dumbed down version of the PC build? Maybe just a little bit, but everything else looks really smooth and nice. All the developers need to do is bring back the rest of the settings from the PC version and just let the players decide what and how they want to adjust.
Another thing they should do is to add new tracks to the roster as soon as possible. Having twelve tracks in the beginning is not bad, but people will get tired of them pretty soon. It is understandable that scanning original tracks takes time and effort, but they definitely need to at least double-up their quantity for the console version.
And hopefully, those Private Lobbies will find their way back into the game although it is doubtful at this stage of development.
The game has been reviewed from a retail copy of Assetto Corsa.