Kunos Simulazioni have become one of the most respected and well-established developers in sim racing since the early access release of the original Assetto Corsa on PC in 2013. In 2018, they obtained the exclusive licence to what was then called the Blancpain GT Series and thus created Assetto Corsa Competizione which would be available as an early access purchase on Steam later that year. It was not an instant hit, with many bugs and issues making the early versions almost unplayable. However, once teething issues had been ironed out, the sim racing community took to ACC (Assetto Corsa Competizione) like they had done to sims such as rFactor all those years ago. The physics and sounds in ACC are regarded as some of the best in the business, and the Unreal Engine 4 architecture used allows stunning visuals that can fully immerse the driver.
The console side of the market has always fallen behind when it comes to sim racing. Whilst many steering wheel and pedal hardware packages support the Xbox One and PS4, not many developers chose to produce all-out sim racers for the platforms. Therefore, there has been an outcry for a console port of some of the most popular simulators for some time. 505 Games, the publishers of ACC and the original Assetto Corsa, did port the original to consoles successfully and decided to do the same with ACC this year. This news was extremely well-received by those who wanted a way into sim racing without forking out for a high-end PC setup, but how does the console version of Assetto Corsa Competizione stack up?
Assetto Corsa Competizione is a fully-licensed GT World Challenge simulator, and as such, features all of the GT3 cars and teams that you would have seen on track during the 2018 and 2019 Sprint and Endurance Series as well as the Total 24 hours of Spa. The full selection of tracks is also included, with each one having impeccable attention to detail and each presenting their own challenges. The game features a range of game modes, including:
- Championship – Racing as a licensed driver in the 2018 or 2019 Blancpain GT Series. (GT4 cars are soon to be added in an upcoming DLC)
- Career – Creating your own team to race in the championship.
- Special Events – Community challenges set by Kunos which can impact your Pace statistic.
- Multiplayer – Public and Private servers which enable wheel to wheel racing online.
- Single Player – Custom single player sessions/race weekends.
ACC rates you as a driver according to 7 driver skills:
- Track Competence TR – Relates to your competence to drive safely at the different circuits.
- Consistency CN – Relates to your ability to reliably produce fast lap times.
- Car Control CC – Relates to your driving style.
- Pace PC – Relates to leaderboard position in the special events.
- Safety SA – Relates to behaviour during battles with both AI and human opponents.
- Racecraft RC – Relates to finishing position compared with drivers of a higher total rating.
- Competition CP – Relates to participation in events on the competition server.
For the purposes of this review, the game has been tested on an Xbox One S console. Therefore, this is theoretically worst case, as the game will run visually better on the PRO level consoles.
ACC is based on the extremely capable, but equally demanding, Unreal Engine 4. Therefore, Kunos have had to dramatically tone down the graphical capabilities of the simulator to have a somewhat playable game on consoles. Kunos claimed that this was required to retain the extremely realistic physics model and high-quality sounds.
As a result, the graphics on ACC are poor by modern sim racing standards. Do not expect environments or car models to blow you away with their graphical prowess. The game also only runs at 30 frames per second on console which is generally not ideal for sim racing, as at higher speeds, this can create problems when trying to make small adjustments mid corner or when catching a car on a corner exit. However, the detail in both the vehicle models and the track environments still shines through, with each car having a highly detailed and unique cockpit and each track delivering different experiences for the driver.
Assetto Corsa Competizione still delivers a fantastic gameplay experience for the consumer who wishes to delve into sim racing on a console. The physics model for each car is highly detailed, and although these cars should be relatively equal due to Balance-Of-Performance regulations, each one drives differently from the next. The front-engine cars such as the Bentley Continental and Mercedes AMG GT3 deliver a great experience for the amateur drivers whereas the rear-engine Porsche 911 GT3 is far more aimed towards the more experienced drivers with a more responsive front end but a much more loose rear. For more information about the difference in cars check out this article. Almost every car has various levels of traction control and anti-lock brakes which can be tailored on the fly to the driver’s preference. The experience of learning and experiencing each unique GT3 car is a very enjoyable one.
If you enjoy putting in time and effort in order to reduce your lap times, this is a sim you will very much enjoy. It takes practice to learn each track and each car in every possible combination, and this alone will provide hours upon hours of fun. Being a simulator, the use of a steering wheel and pedal set is almost a requirement to get the full experience from ACC. It is definitely playable with a pad, but you might find it hard to compete online.
The career mode is simple but effective on ACC. It begins with a young driver’s test at Monza in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo car. This is a great way to learn the ropes of ACC and build your driver profile. The better you do during these tests, of which there are 3, the more choice you have of car for your first season in the GT World Challenge series.
Once you have finished the tests and picked your car for the sprint cup series, you will have to name your new team along with any teammates you wish to have (maximum of 2 teammates allowed).
The career mode lacks customisation, however, with only 3 options for session lengths which must be chosen when starting the career and cannot be changed thereafter. There is no option for mid-session saves as we have become accustom to in other titles which means you must have a lot of time set aside to complete just one race weekend of the career mode.
Multiplayer is really where Assetto Corsa Competizione is at its best. Whilst this mode is relatively simple, it follows the reliable formula that most PC simulators use. There are always servers available for great wheel to wheel racing. Kunos provides public servers for each region with a variety of track, time of day and weather options. Players can also set up private servers for racing friends or for league racing.
However, being a console game, there are plenty of inexperienced drivers who do not appreciate the simulator for what it is and therefore expect some drivers to purposely crash or try to ruin a race. In my experience, this is rare but can happen, nevertheless. ACC has proven a fantastic platform for e-sports on PC, and on consoles it can provide the same high quality competitive racing. There are servers which will only allow drivers over a set safety rating to enter which can eliminate this issue.
The main disadvantage to the multiplayer feature on the console version of ACC is that the maximum grid size is lowered to 20 which is disappointing, but there is still great racing to be had with this grid size.
Assetto Corsa Competizione is one of the most challenging yet fun racing experiences available on the console. The physics are fantastic as well as the sounds which are so realistic and unique for each vehicle model. Multiplayer never fails to deliver hard, yet fun racing, and the various single player modes are enough to keep any racer happy whilst also giving a good experience to get to grips with the various cars and tracks before challenging others online.
Whilst the game is lacking graphically, it is easy to see why Kunos chose to do this so that the impressive physics and sounds could be retained from the PC version. If you are a console user with a wheel who wants to take a step into the world that is sim racing, you must check Assetto Corsa Competizione out.
Assetto Corsa Competizione is available now on PC via steam, Playstation 4 and Xbox One.