I have long been a fan of racing games, but surprisingly not cars or real-world racing. There is just something about racing games that grabs me and keeps my attention, especially ones that have more of a focus on fun and speed instead of specifics and realism. Need for Speed Underground; the Burnout Series; and the Forza Horizon Series are some of the more notable entries in my playing history: so when I saw that an exclusive racing game was coming to the Nintendo Switch, I knew I had to find out where it stood. That game is Gear Club Unlimited, the latest title from Eden Games, which is a team that has much experience in the genre. Published by Microids, Gear Club Unlimited is the first true racing simulator to hit the Switch outside of kart styled racers, and it earns its place on the market by bringing a good looking, fun, and expansive racing title to the console.
Now let’s get this straight, Gear Club Unlimited is not an on-the-nose, pure realism driving simulator. This is not Forza on Xbox One, and this is not Gran Turismo on PlayStation 4. This is Gear Club on the Nintendo Switch, and there is nothing wrong with that. It takes more of a path along the lines of an organized and deep arcade racer, and it truly plays like one. Gameplay wise the cars handle well, feeling a bit looser than other modern racers, which makes it feel more arcade-like in a sense. I truly did not mind this (as I have already mentioned my love of older racers), so this feels right at home. And this style also feels right at home on the Switch, which since its release earlier this year, has brought me more in tune with feelings of gaming memories past. I feel like the Switch saved me in a way, reminding me what it used to feel like to play games as a kid and have an easy sense of enjoyment without an absurd insecure focus on power, graphics, and obsessive realism. I am not downplaying these aspects in any sense, but I want to recognize that there is nothing wrong with games being a bit underpowered in comparison when they are still fun, and Gear Club is really fun without being those aforementioned titles.
Gear Club’s expansive career mode features over 400 races across multiple different tracks (most of which are cut are set up differently to change up each visit) as well as a choice of over 30 cars from 17 different manufacturers, including Dodge; McLaren; BMW; Nissan and more. While the car offering is modest, the number of races should speak for itself. The single-player mode is PACKED with stuff to do, and it’s quite impressive: especially for a racer you can take on the go. This was one of the more impressive parts of the games sums, as it really sells its value. There are only two race modes, which are races and time trials. There is, however, two types of these races as well: the standard circuit style and the addition of Rally races. I was not expecting these rally races but appreciated their addition as they allow you to play with the handling of the cars a bit more, hitting more sharp turns with drifts than you would on the circuits. In your career, you will face much competition, but it is all about progressing to face the fiercer competitors. The races are done in series of championships, which are sectioned off by car classes from A-D, progressively giving access to better and faster vehicles. The vast map gets filled with more and more championships as you pave your way to the top, and the map is just staggering. It’s easy to get lost but does a good job at keeping you organized.
On this map, you will also find your workshop, which is a unique feature that really stood out to me. In this customizable workshop, you can store and upgrade your cars. As you level up in the career, you unlock new pieces of the workshop that you can add to your space. From an engine upgrade area, a tire workshop, and even a wind tunnel, you will build the perfect space to fine tune your cars. It is a much more engaging way to work on your car as opposed just viewing a list. You get to drag and drop your car from section to section, setting it up to be better than before. There is also a rally upgrade section that lets you upgrade with parts specifically for the rally races, and you do not even have to worry about changing them out before a race or having a car specifically for rally races. Any upgrades bought in this shop are automatically adjusted in when switching to rally races, making them easily accessible without the fuss of tuning prior. You can even add new themes and decorative displays to your workshop, such as; vending machines; rotating parking spots; couches and more. It’s like having a Sims-like feature, which is awesome in my opinion. It added a sense of character that I have not seen in other racers.
In addition to the single-player mode, there is an online multiplayer feature as well as local split-screen races. The online multiplayer is not a direct head-to-head mode, but rather a daily time trial leaderboard where players will fight for top spots and progress ranks in the league. It was a bit disappointing to not see a more direct competitive mode, but this at least gives reason to return daily for dedicated players. As for the local multiplayer, it is great to see this mode present, as multiplayer modes are almost a must for the Switch. It runs pretty smooth too, but be sure to adjust your personal settings prior to the race in any mode, as there are some settings that should be played with. The game has multiple difficulties, as well as multiple settings that allow you to balance the flow of things, with assisted breaking, turning, and speed all being available to tune to your desire.
Gear Club is a super rewarding experience too. It has one of the best achievement systems built in that I have seen on the Switch yet, making it worthwhile to gather as each achievement unlocked nets you some in-game money. Same goes for the missions in the game, which rotate in sets of three and allow you to aim for more than just winning races. Leveling up keeps you motivated too, with new items unlocking in your shop with each level up. All in all Gear Club is a great addition to both the genre and the line up on the Switch and is a well put together concept. Though not the most realistic or powerful racing simulators on the market, it is lots of fun, and racing enthusiasts will find plenty to like here. Don’t get separated from the pack. Get behind the wheel and become a part of the club today, because Gear Club is helping the genre launch on Switch.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 7.5/10
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