So here I am bounding through Forza Motorsport, making tremendous progress thinking I'm a good racer. Then I hit up the Project Cars series and I think, OK I'm probably not as good as I thought. Finally, I hit up Assetto Corsa Competizione and I realize I'm like the John Snow of racing, in that I know nothing. Released at the end of June 2020, Assetto Corsa Competizione (ACC) by 505 Games hits the track and it catches the gaming world by surprise, not just with the amount of content, but how exacting this game actually is. Start your engines and hold on tight because I can guarantee you're not ready.
Starting this review off, I cannot stress enough how much of a simulation this game is. Read that last sentence again. Assetto Corsa Competizione is without a doubt the absolute undisputed king of GT3 racing simulation. Driving games are all about physics. Once they get too comical, they start to become "arcady" in feel. Not here. Nope, in Assetto Corsa Competizione you strive to master the physics. When I mean strive, I mean you will devote hours upon hours to this game for the quest of completing 1 clean lap. Let me explain.
When you start the game, you can go instantly into one of the championships (think of this as stepping on to a 747 plane for the first time without any training and flying it, thinking you'll make it, or will you crash and burn?). This is where you can recreate actual championships that have races that range from 1 hour, to 3 hours, to even the infamous 24 Hours at Spa. Don't worry you can pause and save and come back to finish the race so don't worry about having to block off an entire day to finish a race (unless you wanted a realistic experience). All the teams from GT3 racing are here with over 200 drivers, 120 teams, 24 cars and of course 11 racing circuits that were duplicated using laser measuring for accuracy. If the track is like that in real life, it's like that in the game.
If, however, you wish to gain a feel for the game first, you can try out the career mode. Here you start at the beginning at the Lamborghini test track. You'll be racing alongside a few other cars, but your main quest will be to set the fastest CLEAN lap time you can. So, this is where I decided to start my ACC adventure. I went through the settings that made me feel... well, insulted. I went through and customized my setup for a dry/safe condition rather than fast because I wanted to get a feel for the car before I worked on performance (sounds legit right?). So I use the Y button to switch my view to outside the car (the controls aren't really explained to you but I'll touch on that here shortly) and away I went out of pit lane to start my 10 min training session.
Yes, I had the course arrow on, but you know what, it didn't matter. By the time the arrows went red my car was already flying past 180 mph into a series of tight 90 degree turns. Having literally cut that entire corner not only was my lap time invalid but my car and its tires were already damaged not even a quarter mile out of pit lane. Oh, this was going to be fun. So, I approach the next corner which is a medium sweeping curve to the right and try to keep control of the vehicle. In doing so the back end kicks out which I over correct and end up in the gravel. I manage to get the car back on the road and lower my goal bar from finishing first to just get around a corner.
This is because the driving physics on this game are absolutely incredible. Yes, it's very, very hard to manage at first, but after a while, you still won't get it. I played 30 minutes of training and out of that time I only completed 4 clean laps and never got higher than dead last. This mind you, was accomplished with all driving aids on and the difficulty set to practically newborn. This is how unforgiving the game actually is. So, then I thought it was the way I had the car setup. Of course, it couldn't be my driving skills, right? *insert rolling eyes*
So before the 2nd 10 minute test run session, I go over and configure the car and what you can adjust is literally everything, right down to how the aerodynamics of the car impact the air around you as it drives. There are menu setups for tires, electronics, fuel & strategy, grip, dampers and even aero. The tuning options of this game is unbelievable. You can tell where the air makes the most impact as well as the downforce generated which help create grip as it pushes the car down onto the track. So, the trick is to find the right balance between grip and speed. Other things you can change are the controls itself of the game. ACC allows you to bind various factions within the car to buttons on your controller and/or steering wheel setup. Sadly, we were unable to test the steering wheel functionality, but ACC has partnered with Fanantec to deliver a realistic racing experience wheel specifically for ACC. Of course, since this is a simulation, I fumble around like I know what I'm doing and then I take off out of the pit!
Up comes the series of 90 degree turns and I'm thinking I'm going to take this like a pro and teams are going to be knocking on my door to lead their racing team. Well, in reality I made the car totally unstable, and as soon as I went to turn my car basically had a seizure, locked up and I never knew a car could slide so much. Oh yeah, I had made it totally worse. Restart and reset to default settings. Yeah, the customization of this simulator is incredible and not to be taken lightly. Now I'm off for my 3rd restart of the training session.
Opting for safety over speed I get out of the pits and I start breaking a little earlier, using more inertia in the corners to allow my car to accelerate through them. I start racking up the clean laps. One, two, three, four! I couldn't believe it, and let me tell you that this is a WONDERFULL STRESS TEST of the Xbox Elite controller... WONDERFUL. I felt like I was on top of the world and I crushed it! I was so happy, and then the standings came in. Dead last. Yeah, thanks. Not by like a tenth of a second or anything, no. More like 7-8 seconds ahead of me which is enough time to read War and Peace backwards, twice.
Since I finished clean I thought I could just do some slight tweaking on the next practice session and I could shave some time down right? So, the game gives me a pop-up that basically says I suck and should play the game on easy with everything turned on but traction control. See, to fully experience what racing is like you HAVE to have the traction control turned 100% off, not even 5% and the game points this out to you VERY clearly. So, I crank that TC all the way up to 100% on. Just try and stop me. Now the next session loads up and guess what, it's RAIN! Oh happy day.
Naturally now my friends decide to hit up a multiplayer match. Sure, why not? I've been doing so well so far. So, popping over to the multiplayer server side, you're greeted with the server list at the bottom, Quickjoin on the left and competition server on the right. In the middle is where you can select what team and car you use when you drive. The entire roster is here for you to choose from and you can also set your livery and your racing number as well. Once you've selected your team and you're back to the main multiplayer menu, the Quickjoin is what you would expect, but the competition server is where the real racing is and your access to this server depends on your rating within the game itself.
One of the interesting aspects is how ACC tracks your progress in the game with the cars and the tracks. This data is found in the main menu under driver (bottom left) and then click the rating menu. You'll see a vertical menu on the right-hand side that details various stats of the game. For example, Track Competence is about how many clean laps have you done on the tracks. Each track has medals to win, and when you win the medals, the track competency grows. Consistency pertains to how often you can post similar lap times, and should you see lots of yellow and red, mixed with green, that's not very consistent.
Then car control is interesting because ACC is grading you on how often you put the car into a position to get the maximum speed and grip out of the vehicle and essentially crashing or overdriving the car and spinning out. Again, unlike golf, a higher number is desired here as well. Pace pertains to completing events and leaderboards. The next is a big one... SAFETY. This monitors how safe of a driver you are. Again, you want a high number here because that can affect you joining multiplayer matches. As you can see there's a ton of data being logged throughout your gameplay and all of it is important for multiplayer. So anyways back to the friends and the multiplayer.
We head into a match from the server list as we were clearly not ready for a competition server and we wanted control of what to play. We start off and there's a moment just like the beginning of every race where you have to stay within your limits for a rolling start. We learned that the hard way as all 3 of us hit the gas and practically failed instantly. Once you complete the rolling start and the green light drops, the gas pedal gets planted and the race begins. I kept clipping corners and kept getting penalties, but I remained within the top 3, but then I was called into the pit and was disqualified because I apparently didn't know the rules of racing.
Being disqualified just meant I had to wait till the next game so I would go into camera mode and look at my friends and how they were doing, and that's when the sheer beauty of this game shined through. ACC is an absolutely beautiful game to behold. The car models and cockpit views look painstakingly detailed and the racing environments themselves are so detailed that you almost wish you could stop and look around you, especially when you hit up legendary tracks like Spa-Francorchamps and Laguna Seca. The only downfall I could see would be when you're in the cockpit view, the slightest move of the Left Stick causes your steering wheel to almost go into convulsions it becomes so jerky. You could be smooth on the corner but inside your driver looks like they are experiencing a serious cerebral medical condition event. But damn does it sound good.
The main menu music and all that is meh, and if I'm honest, I turned it off after a while. Why? Well for starters it's nothing that stands out as quality, and the real beauty of the sound is to be found in the cars themselves. Get into a McLaren and go through the various views including the cockpit view and listen to the engine sing. Now hop into a Ferrari and listen as everything is tuned perfectly to be unique. This is the best soundtrack to any racing game if the engine noise is authentic, and thankfully it is. Everything from a low rumble growl to a high-pitched humming can be found on cars such as Bentley, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche, Lamborghini and so much more.
We decided to play another race and I was racing clean until towards the end and I got disqualified again. Yes, I know I need to work on that IF I want to actually finish a race. After that I decided to confront my training session which, may I remind you, is now in the rain. I set my car up for default on the wet setup and lap after lap I managed to finish 1st! I could not believe it, so I took a picture for recorded evidence. It goes to show that the best thing that you can give this game is time. If you can give ACC some devotion, it will make you a better racing driver, period.
Despite being horrible at Assetto Corsa Competizione, I have no doubt in my mind that this is the best pure driving simulator that you can find on Xbox One. That's a big statement I know, and I'm sure you Forza fans are sharpening your pitchforks, but hear me out. The main focus of making an accurate driving simulator IS the physics and ACC delivers a racing experience unlike any you can find on the market. While other racing games may be fun to play because of their entertainment, ACC can actually help you become a better driver because of its realism. Don't get me wrong, I'm terrible at this game, I mean absolutely horrible, but that's just because I have limited knowledge, which is a nice way of saying I know nothing.
If you don't mind being SEVERELY humbled by your talent and skill behind the wheel, Assetto Corsa Competizione hits your wallet with a bill for $39.99. Huh? From incredibly gorgeous graphics of the cars and tracks, to the detail of tuning and adjustment, to the engines that scream as they fly down the straights, to the physics that take the handling of this game to new levels,and more, for $20 less than big named racing games. I guarantee you right now Assetto Corsa Competizione just made Turn 10 and others take notice, and they should. Assetto Corsa Competizione is one of, if not arguably, the best racing simulator you can find on the Xbox. Sure, it may serve you some humility with a side of humble pie, but if you stay with it, it will become one of the most rewarding racing experiences you can have on the platform.
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