There aren’t too many “serious” racing selections on the Nintendo Switch. I mean, not that we really need them with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe being so good and all. But Eden Games attempted to bring its mobile racer Gear Club Unlimited to the platform last year- and I say “attempted” because while it was a noble effort, the sim/arcade racer came across as average at best.
The developer promised to move forward with its follow-up, Gear Club Unlimited 2, which is available now. While you can see the signs where they tinkered with its formula, the experience as a whole just never really, mind the pun, gets up to speed.
On the positive side, Gear Club Unlimited 2 gives you a lot more to do. There are over 250 races available with 50 licensed cars to choose from. That’s not as stacked as your routine Gran Turismo game, but for a smaller effort such as this it’s not bad.
In addition, Unlimited does benefit from a more interesting career mode. You’re a rookie racer that proves their worth to a local team, eventually taking over for some hotshot that blew his chance for success. It’s not the most in-depth racing tale ever, but it makes for a much more interesting backdrop than the original game provided.
Ah, but then you run into the negatives that get in the way of enjoying the racing- which, ironically, is the racing itself. Not that Gear Club Unlimited 2 is as sloppy as other lower-end racers on the market, but it doesn’t reinvent the wheel either. (Again, mind the pun.)
The handling for each vehicle is typical, which means you’ll handle turns most of the same way no matter what kind of vehicle you’re driving. And you never really feel the thrill of getting up to speed, as each run comes across more like a Sunday drive. There’s enough decent variety with cars and tracks, but hardly anything to put a smile on your face like Mario Kart 8 obviously would.
There’s also lag issues, in which the car can be tough to steer, particularly when rival cars load onto the screen. This is clearly a performance issue, one that could use addressing sooner rather than later. There’s even lag in the menu screens, a place with just text choices and background! Seriously.
Speaking of performance, Gear Club Unlimited 2 could’ve used fine tuning. The graphics aren’t bad, as you’ll race through a few neat environments with slick-looking cars. But there’s barely any effort in this design, compared to, say, Playground Games’ incredible Forza Horizon 4. We all know that the Nintendo Switch is no Xbox, mind you; but clearly Eden Games could’ve put a more spit polish on this one before it hit the streets.
There’s also the frame rate, which is all over the place. A good portion of the time, Unlimited 2 is moderately around 25-30 frames per second. But then it slogs in several troublesome sections, whether you’re playing in docked mode or with handheld. As a result, your race can be thrown for a loop, with an issue that’s literally out of your hands while you’re grasping the controller. It makes some runs frustrating, to say the least.
That’s something that may hold you back from seeing what all Gear Club Unlimited 2 has to offer. And while Career Mode has a decent story, it does fail in one department- making you feel like you’re making progress.
There are upgrades available, as well as customization you can add on to your vehicle. But it doesn’t change the fact that the gameplay is still about the same, with lag and all. So...you’re paying for what, exactly?
Racing against a friend sounds appealing, as Gear Club Unlimited 2 supports two-player split-screen. However, the frame rate issue becomes even more noticeable here; and the lack of any online multiplayer may leave a few of you driving elsewhere. (To be fair, the feature will be added in a future update, but Eden Games should consider improving the bigger issues first.)
Throw in a soundtrack that never ratchets up the excitement- and any sort of distinction that gives Unlimited 2 a much-needed dose of originality or spark- and you have a game that tries to do so much, but surprisingly stays in neutral.
Gear Club Unlimited 2 is a bigger game than the first, but Eden Games forgot to throw in that magic “hook,” if you will, to attract players for the long-term. It might be worth a run for some, but the problematic visual and lag issues (not to mention the missing online multiplayer for a retail-priced release) won’t make you stick around like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has.
Once a patch is released that shifts Gear Club where it was supposed to be, I may take it for a spin again. For now, though, I’m power-drifting with a certain plumber, just because it’s way more fun.0comments
WWG’s Score: 2 out of 5.
(Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.)