Assetto Corsa: Japanese Pack (PlayStation 4) Review

By Tomas Barry 14.08.2017

Review for Assetto Corsa: Japanese Pack on PlayStation 4

When Kunos Simulazioni and 505 Games released Assetto Corsa for PS4 and Xbox One, it received much praise for being one of the most authentic racing experiences ever on consoles. Its uncompromising sim ethos, highly impressive physics engine, coupled with its staggering attention to detail, adds up to a seriously dedicated driving sim. While at launch there were a few grievances, such as the lack of private lobbies, which are a staple of the PC version, over the course of the year Kunos has regularly updated the console iteration, addressing these grievances and gradually bringing the new content over. Therefore, while the console Assetto Corsa community is still quite small compared to the PC counterpart, there's no doubt that it has improved over time and remains the king of sim racers on console. Cubed3 checks out another DLC set of cars, the Japanese Pack, which, amongst others, introduces the legendary MX5 roadster.

The Mazda MX5 2016 is a real joy to drive, largely because it's quite a controllable rear-wheel drive road car, which will generally co-operate with the driver. Its weight balance is very neutral, meaning understeer is very rare, but it's also easily corrected when it does crop up. While the MX5 doesn't reach blistering speeds, it's still incredible fun to drive because you can throw it around with real confidence of tempering down any resistance forces. As such, it's very useful for beginner drivers wishing to test their abilities with a reasonably forgiving vehicle.

Screenshot for Assetto Corsa: Japanese Pack on PlayStation 4

The Mazda MX5 Cup is the race-worthy equivalent of the road model. Everything stated about that is also true here, only this iteration is fitted with a roll cage, is a little lighter and nimbler, and seems to have far more power and downforce to play with. It can be driven very aggressively on the limit across a variety of different types of tracks, which probably explains why it's such a popular choice of car to race. While most drivers will get to grips with the car reasonably quickly, it takes a lot of effort to master the finer details, making it a vehicle that people will want to return to frequently. The handling model here is extremely detailed and highly accurate, and it's really a matter of opinion whether it tops iRacing's MX5 or not. Clearly, though, this car is one of the most popular additions to Assetto Corsa ever.

The last Mazda offering comes in the form of the RX7 FD3S, a very popular two-seater model, which hasn't been manufactured since 2002. Although it behaves like the MX5 in some respects, it's much more of a challenge to temper down, requiring a careful approach to cornering at high-speed, otherwise the rear tyres lose grip. This is where Assetto Corsa's quite excellent physics engine and force feedback really pays off. While many other driving games have featured this distinct motor before, none have ever nailed the feeling of weight and momentum through the corner to this extent, allowing for a truly fluid interpretation, through the wheel's feedback, of when to correct and adjust. It's an incredibly authentic representation of the real thing. For those who can handle themselves drifting, the tuned version is even more frightful and delightful.

Screenshot for Assetto Corsa: Japanese Pack on PlayStation 4

In terms of Toyota additions, first up is the Supra MKIV, which also comes in a Time Attack and Drift version. This vehicle is quite heavy, packing a 2.6-litre inline-six-cylinder engine. It's a real handful in situations where the driver needs to throw the weight around with precision. Holding the desired line through a tight corner is quite a challenge, as, unless you're extremely conservative on approach, a fair amount of correction is usually required. The drift model is even more of a beast to tame, but wrestling with its force feedback is, again, a tremendously gratifying experience.

The other Toyota offering, the Corolla AE86, is another excellent addition to Assetto Corsa's roster. Post production, it's still a highly popular choice for rallying and club races to this day, partly down to its rear drive set-up, which isn't found very frequently in many modern lightweight coupes, and partly - let's be honest - down to Initial D! It's robust, but since it's not a modern vehicle, there's no traction control or ABS, so it's also a challenge and great for educating yourself on concepts like weight transfer. The tuned model allows for the most engaging drive, with organic-feeling force feedback and easily interpretable handling. Of all the drift models introduced here, the AE86 is one the best.

Screenshot for Assetto Corsa: Japanese Pack on PlayStation 4

Moving on, the Nissan 370Z NISMO is a quite heavy yet capable two-seater sports car. It's quite a powerful car, which is better suited to simple circuit tracks, without many slow corners (which tend to upset its balance). It doesn't seem to react well to more than one significant adjustment while cornering, disrupting the weight balance and momentum substantially. However, if the driver concentrates on braking in a straight line, it can still match the pace of comparable vehicles on the right track. It's also fundamentally important to consider tyres with this one, since after just four to five laps it will be noticeable how much the tyres have worn.

Last, but certainly not least: the Nissan Skyline R34 V-Spec. Despite being heavier and less powerful than the 370Z, this motor is faster and more far more dynamic. That's owed to its ATTESA four-wheel drive, with ETS (Electronic Torque Split) providing authentic rear-wheel drive behaviour, coupled with the traction and control of a 50:50 four-wheel drive system when required. There's absolutely no doubt that this is one of the most joyful cars to drive, particularly as the force feedback feels very on point here. Every car in this pack is here for a reason, but there's no doubt the Skyline R34 V-Spec will raise a gleeful cheer amongst Japanese Domestic Market fans.

Screenshot for Assetto Corsa: Japanese Pack on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

There's no doubt that Kunos has delved into the JDM driving scene with a meticulous sense of craft and attention to detail. This is an excellent representation, with a great selection of vehicles from legendary to modern, each of which feels very distinct and authentic. While everyone will have their personal favourites, the MX5 Cup, the Corolla AE86 and the Nissan Skyline V-Spec coax the maximum adrenaline out naturally, since they seem to have the most visceral handling and dynamic behaviour. While the console iteration can't eclipse the PC version, which features mods and has a much larger community, one year on, considering the wealth of additional content and updates, Assetto Corsa remains the definitive choice for authentic sim racing on console. While the standalone Japanese Pack is very reasonably priced, considering how many cars and tracks it adds, the season pass also represents excellent value for money. A no-brainer.

Developer

Kunos Simulazioni

Publisher

505 Games

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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