Assetto Corsa Competizione is the latest in a long line of racing sims flooding the console market in 2020, having been released on PC last year. It follows in the footsteps of titles like Gran Turismo Sport, licensed by an official global motorsport body, in this case, it’s the GT World Challenge and the GT Series Endurance Cup, based on the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
As a result, you can select drivers and teams across both seasons.
Being a console port of a PC game, it’s strange that a decision was made to cap the game at 30 FPS. It makes playing the game look and feel a lot different to its PC counterpart. But graphically, it’s still extremely impressive, with great looking car models, and the lighting and day-to-night transitions are seamless no matter how you set up your races.
However, depending on what kind of race setup you are running, you may experience severe frame drops even then. While running around Spa-Francorchamps, my FPS rating probably dropped to maybe 10-15 in one section of the track, it was chugging along.
Assetto Corsa Competizione
Like a lot of its rival racing sims, Assetto Corsa Competizione has plenty of options for you to go racing in. You can do a free race, a single championship or a full career. Depending on how deep you want to go, the career can be a full simulation of multiple seasons, including competing in both the sprint and endurance championships.
There are plenty of choices when it comes to setting up a custom race, arguably as many as you can think of. You can run free practice, a hot lap (essentially the same as free practice), a Superpole (a two-lap sprint), hotstint (like a hot lap, but with a time limit), a quick race, a sprint race weekend (two races with optional practice and qualifying), as well as endurance race weekends for three, six or 24 hours. The various options mean that any race is going to be unique, especially when participating in a career with both sprint and endurance series selected.
Something to note is that in all the custom races, the race length can be altered to bypass time to make the race ‘go faster’ – the 24-hour races can be shortened to as little as a single hour – though this is more frustrating than you might think. What happens in this instance is that the driver stint rule is still in place and scales accordingly, so you’ll need to pit in after just a couple of laps so that you can make the switch. I’ve found that it’s much more enjoyable to simply do a standard three-hour race, rather than compressing a 24-hour race into three hours. The addition of a save feature for endurance races, where you can stop any time and resume later on, adds to the benefits of participating in longer events – but naturally, this is only possible when playing offline.
The racing itself is very strong, with the balancing of cars all quite competitive. It makes sense, given that the game is based off a real-world series, that Kunos has got the balancing between the cars down pat. There aren’t any vehicles that stand out head and shoulders above the others. And speaking of, all the models look and sound stunning, particularly in the idle sequences in the main menu. Each car looks and sounds phenomenal, and hearing the raw power of your car is truly symphonic. The driving itself is almost unmatched on console, and the game’s handling model really feels like you’re in complete control of your car.
Something that is incredibly awkward, something that I’m not a fan of at all, is the lookback feature. It’s something that I use quite often when playing racing games, just to keep tabs on my opponents. But in Assetto Corsa Competizione, when you look behind you, it doesn’t just invert the camera to show you directly behind you – the camera physically swings around 180 degrees and back again every time you press and release the button.
So let’s say you’re on a long straight and you’re approaching a hairpin with someone in your slipstream, if you’re constantly trying to check back on them, you’re going to have to deal with the camera spinning around. It’s very disorienting, and a shocking implementation of such a basic feature. Considering how many games simply employ a fixed rear camera, I can’t understand why Kunos opted for such a poor design choice.
And in terms of controls, the options for binding your buttons haven’t been nerfed in its port over to consoles. Every option looks like it’s been carried over, with so many choices to perfectly set up the controls exactly how you want them. Looking through the options screen, you can control the levels of assistance for all types of functions, including a percentage base for stability control in increments of 5%.
This is really useful for rookie drivers to gradually ease themselves off assisted driving. The only downside is that it doesn’t look like there are any binding options for basic functions like the handbrake, yet there is for things like indicators and windscreen wipers. In a racing sim like Assetto Corsa Competizione, having complete knowledge of what your button configuration does at all times is paramount, and it can be a bit confusing to get the control layout exactly to your liking.
There are plenty of good camera options, including multiple in-car choices, even a helmet camera for a proper POV screen, with realistic shakes and bounces while the car rides around the track. The only downside presentation-wise is that the HUD is a complete mess, convoluted with so many graphics and so much information that makes it needlessly complicated. Racing sims carry and track so much data, but the race screen seemingly decides all of it is necessary for the player to know what’s going on in a race. As a result, so much of the screen is covered by different elements of your car and your performance in the race.
The leaderboard takes up an absurd amount of on-screen real estate, and no matter what car camera you use, there’s a box with a rearview so you can see what’s going on behind you, which is especially annoying if you’re using an in-car camera where you can spot the rear vision mirror. And perhaps most annoyingly, there’s a graphic that appears when cars are in close proximity to you, smack bang in the middle of the screen. When all these elements are present at once, it’s not silly to think you’re being bombarded by information you don’t need. It’s incredibly cluttered and should be more like the MFD system in the F1 games, that way you could have all this information at your fingertips, but tucked away where it’s not taking up much screen space, and available to access at the touch of a button.
Assetto Corsa Competizione’s gameplay will make it a strong contender for the best racing game of 2020, but I don’t think I could safely label it as the greatest because there’s a few bugs and awkward elements that truly prevent it from being great. The driving feels very solid and the action is thrilling. Night and day progression is incredible, and driving in the wet is a thrilling challenge.
As a whole, the overall presentation is a major let-down to what is otherwise a rather sharp and strong racing game. It’s only when you take it for what it is – a hardcore racing sim available on console, do you reveal a truly fun and enjoyable racing experience. But with so many racing sims on console already available and optimised better, you may be wondering why you’d want Assetto Corsa Competizione when it’s already on PC.
Assetto Corsa Competizione was reviewed on PS4 using a digital copy provided by the publisher.