Assetto Corsa Competizione (PlayStation 4) Review

By Jamie Mercer 25.09.2020

Review for Assetto Corsa Competizione on PlayStation 4

After the success of Assetto Corsa on PC back in 2014 - largely due to the incredible modding community - 505 Games ported it to console in 2016, where it was met with incredibly mixed results; an enjoyable driving experience, which was unfortunately wrapped in an unsatisfactory overall package. 505 Games is now back with the latest iteration of the series, promising exciting features such as dynamic weather, better AI, and - as many fans have been hoping for - a night mode. The racing is a lot better by all accounts, but this sim is severely hamstrung to an aging console generation's technical limitations.

Graphically, Competizione lies somewhere between functional and pretty. It's clear that the console version lacks the wow factor of its PC counterpart, perhaps to allow the physics engine to use more of the available power, and Unreal Engine 4 is starting to show glimpses of its age, but it's perfectly serviceable. You won't find anyone complaining when you're driving through Monza as the sun dances lazily between outstretched trees before hitting your windscreen. Similarly, there's a real thrill at trying to maintain focus on the track and other cars, as torrential rain is thrashing against the road and bonnet, which is where the dynamic weather really shines.

The level of customisation on offer is, as expected from a pedigree racing sim, that curious combination of both incredibly daunting and impressive. To put this into context, there are manual options for turning on lights and wiper blades. Those fancying themselves as a hobbyist engine tinkerer will be right at home, with gamers able to modify all kinds of tuning options before a race to get the car feeling just right. The driver AI has also been overhauled, with driver bots yielding when necessary, yet not being afraid to take advantage of overzealous braking or idle track positioning. One particularly pleasant HUD feature is the 'spotter' that displays how close other cars are either side of the player's vehicle. This welcome addition comes in very handy for making those 500 IQ race-winning decisions, and is kept in a prominent area of the screen without distracting from the overall experience.

Screenshot for Assetto Corsa Competizione on PlayStation 4

Making the decision at launch to focus solely on the FIA GT3 circuit was actually a smart move. Endurance racing could be seen as underrepresented, but gamers appreciate the challenge that comes with the extreme concentration, and cat-like reflexes required to excel and take home the first-place prize. While the selection of GT3 cars on offer in Competizione is not quite as extensive as in some of its peers, there's still plenty to choose from, and they all handle incredibly different from each other - just as they should! Post-launch, a GT4 DLC pack was available to purchase, offering an even greater choice of vehicles with 11 GT4 cars and a smattering of new game modes added to the mix.

The audio has to be commended as well. Some of the cars purr assuredly like Prince, while some are throaty, raspy, and wild like Tom Waits. The roar and whine of the engines is staggering, and combined with the various mechanical squeaks, creaks, and shrieks, all add to an immersive experience. There's a decent selection of some of the world's more famous and respected tracks (including four more available as part of the Intercontinental GT pack), which along with the array of game modes available open several possibilities. Alongside quick championships, long championships, special events, and custom modes, there is also a career mode available - an unfortunately frustrating experience, forcing you through multiple practice laps before being deemed worthy of racing in the next stage. There's not enough there to keep experienced racing fans coming back for more, but it's also very likely to scare off newcomers who just want to choose a car and jump into the action. Quite a shame, as the presentation and video introductions give a great initial impression.

Screenshot for Assetto Corsa Competizione on PlayStation 4

How does it drive? Pretty well, for the most part. Closet car geeks with full racing rigs will certainly benefit the most from the level of realism on offer, but the game also runs fairly solidly on controller, too. Once the tires are suitably warmed up, joystick users should be able to get to grips with the sensitive steering on the analogue sticks, and, once familiar with the tracks, will comfortably be hitting the apex in corners and getting into a rhythm before long. Unfortunately, this does come with an unwanted side effect.

Using a pad in cockpit view leads to some of the more creative 'arm physics' ever seen in gaming history. It looks like the animations are tied to stick sensitivity rather than to the in-game steering wheel, meaning the character model's arms flail about hopelessly and give the visual aid that there's massive oversteer when in actuality the car is quite comfortably in control. Very distracting, and easily rectifiable. The only way around this for pad players is to use the slightly zoomed-in dashboard view to race comfortably without seeing forearms spasming across their screens. Sadly, there's further camera woes. Avoid the chase camera at all costs. It over-exaggerates the slightest suggestion of movement with a gargantuan and cartoonish yaw, turning momentary and minute losses of control into race-ending and rage-inducing situations.

Screenshot for Assetto Corsa Competizione on PlayStation 4

Unfortunately, the lack of comparative power available on console when compared to PC means that some pretty significant corners have had to be cut to allow the physics engine to shine, with the frame rate being the most adversely affected. Competizione limps along at a lacklustre maximum frame rate of 30, even on the One X and PS4 Pro. It's not capped at a constant 30, though, rather the most frames it can hope to achieve are 30 per second. The result is a racing game that just feels off the pace, neither as silky smooth as PC racers, nor as consistent as other console racing sims that play at a rock-steady 30FPS.

In the thick of the action it isn't as noticeable, though temporary freezes on the track are fairly common. Strangely, in menus, that is where the most significant frame rate issues are found, and these detract from the overall feel of quality. This leaves a rather sour taste, and although ardent racing simmers may be able to overlook this and focus on the rest of the driving experience, for casual racing sim fans or those accustomed to a certain standard of next-gen life, it cannot be overlooked.

Screenshot for Assetto Corsa Competizione on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Once it gets into gear, Assetto Corsa Competizione turns into an enjoyable enough driving experience, with some often frustrating quirks. Every move, pass, and failure made is analysed, scored, and presented back with a grade at such a granular level you'll be left scratching your head at how you ever passed your driving test in the first place. However, the unstable framerate, janky animations, erratic camera modes, and lack of other in-game tracks and vehicles without paying more for the DLC, means that this is one for racing sim aficionados only.

Developer

505

Publisher

505 Games

Genre

Driving

Players

16

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

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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