The people over at Eden Games are no strangers to the racing genre. Having made racing titles like V-Rally, Test Drive Unlimited, and even a version of Need for Speed, Eden Games knows racing games. Last year they released Gear Club Unlimited on Nintendo Switch. The game focuses on being an authentic racing simulator rather than an arcade racing game (like the recently released Horizon Chase Turbo). While the game showed its mobile roots, there was plenty of fun to be had on the Switch, and there’s no game quite like it on the platform. Its sequel, Gear Club Unlimited 2, is a Switch exclusive. While it has seen some improvements over last year’s version, Gear Club Unlimited 2 is still held back from obvious mobile roots.
Like was mentioned above, Eden Games is familiar with racing titles. They created the V-Rally racing games on N64, PlayStation, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox. They also created the Test Drive Unlimited series on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. The Gear Club series found its start on mobile devices in 2015/2016 before an upgraded version came to Switch in November 2017. The Gear Club Unlimited series focuses on real, authentic racing, much like the Forza series.
One of the things I really enjoyed about Gear Club Unlimited 2 is just how much content there is. The game’s campaign has, quite literally, hundreds of races you can take part in. These range from time trails to full-on races. This makes the game last for quite a long time. especially when you consider the fact that there are over 50 cars you can get and upgrade, giving them better speed, performance, handling, etc. The single-player campaign will take you quite a long time to get through, which in my opinion is great. Having so much content in a racing game is great, even more so considering that each race doesn’t last more than 5 minutes. This makes it ideal on Switch to pick up, play a race or two, put it down, and repeat.
The problem with Gear Club Unlimited 2 is that the driving never feels good. For whatever reason, regardless of controller or setup, it feels like there’s lagging. Taking turns is where this problem becomes really evident. It feels like there’s a whole second’s delay from when you turn the controller and when your car actually turns on-screen. This is a pretty big problem in a game that wants to be an authentic racing game. If you can’t make turns correctly and you end up smashing into walls all the time, it turns the experience into a frustrating mess. I will say that the more races I played, the more I got used to adjusting for that lag. It never felt perfect, but I eventually got to the point where I wasn’t crashing into walls all the time.
The other really major issue is performance. For a game that’s built exclusively for Nintendo Switch, it doesn’t run very well on the platform. Whether it’s in docked or handheld mode, the game always seems to have frame rate issues. Anyone that’s read any of my reviews before on Gaming Respawn will know that I’m not normally one to mention frame rate in my reviews. I only mention them when I think there’s a problem. In Gear Club Unlimited 2, it’s a problem, especially in handheld mode. When you’re racing around a sharp corner, the frame rate really slows down. This makes the game feel jerky and takes you out of the experience. Combine the laggy control issues mentioned above with the poor frame rate issues, and at times it makes the races almost impossible to play. Granted, the frame rate issue isn’t always that bad; however, most of the races will suffer from this.
One other annoying thing in Gear Club Unlimited 2 is the really long load times. There wasn’t a single load time I counted (and yes, I did count the load times) that was under a minute. Most of the time you’d wait in a loading screen for almost 2 minutes before the game loaded. There were even a number of times when I thought the game froze and was about to crash because the loading bar said “90%” for a whole minute. Gear Club Unlimited 2 isn’t a simple graphics game, nor is it a graphically demanding game. Hopefully these load times can be fixed in a patch or something because they happen way too often.
Developer: Eden Games
Release Date: 4th December 2018
Platform: Nintendo Switch