Interest in the world of sim racing is increasing, and it was before the coronavirus has interrupted the 2020 season for most of the real sites. Motorsport Games recently set all kinds of records with its virtual LeMans 24 Hours race, and the NASCAR weekly races in the eNASCAR Heat Pro League have gained popularity even with the return of NASCAR to the circuits.
Now the folks at 505 Games are looking for new console racing glory with its well-known PC simulation runner, Assetto Corsa Competizione. We sampled ACC for PC in 2018 and found that it was a well-sorted simulation with an emphasis on the simulation side. Just like in real racing, there is a steep learning curve to master this title well, which is one of the reasons why ACC has a good reputation in the world of PC sim racing. The big question now is whether this experience goes well with console gaming platforms, namely the Xbox One from Microsoft and the Playstation 4. from Sony. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Or at least, not yet.
Our time with Assetto Corsa Competizione was spent on a current generation Xbox One X, connected to a 4K HDR television and controlled via a Logitech G920 force feedback steering wheel. You can play ACC with the standard Xbox controller, and during a special question and answer session before the launch of Assetto Corsa Competizione, we were told that special attention was paid to the console version in this regard. so that players can have a good experience without owning a wheel. However, we are not looking for the glory of the appropriate sim racing with a joystick, so we pulled the wheel and prepared for some intense action.
Unfortunately, nothing happened. We mean that literally – ACC did not recognize the steering or accelerator inputs from the wheel. In addition, the settings screen lists only the extremely basic wheel settings that seem universal for any platform. In the end, we were able to make it functional by disconnecting the wheel and reconnecting it while the game was operational, but from this review in early July, it’s still the only way for ACC to recognize a wheel.
Even with a functional dial, these basic settings mean that there are only a few feedback adjustments. It’s not good, because with settings pushed to the maximum, the steering seems almost lifeless. There is little force in the wheel, and each turn is the same no matter how fast or slow you enter. There is no distinction between understeer or oversteer, and no change in strength unless you are completely stopped. You will feel a minor bump if you cut a sidewalk, but oddly enough, you will get random jerks when you go down a straight line.
It’s not good, because with settings pushed to the maximum, the steering seems almost lifeless.
To the credit of ACC, we are told that the wheel problem is being worked out so that the game at least recognizes that it is there. We hope that further development for better feedback is also part of this process, as the CCA already has a very steep learning curve which can be frustrating. Dealing with wheel problems on top of that can quickly take away all the fun from this title.
Speaking of steep learning curve, this is actually one of the highlights of the game. This is the official game of the GT World Challenge Series, and as such it is best known when you think of it as a real racer. A good racing sim should not be plug-and-play with immediate success, and unless you are already a seasoned simmer, this is exactly what you will come across. You can get straight into racing on one of 11 real-world tracks, driving one of 13 racing cars with precise liveries, but if you want to progress, you have to start slowly and steadily.
The ACC career mode offers a few steps to help you. You’ll start by riding around Monza in a Lamborghini, running 10-minute sessions where your performance is evaluated, and that includes how you play with the other cars on the track. Just like in real racing, the burden of improvement falls on you instead of just following the clues about when to accelerate, brake or turn. The result can be frustrating for occasional runners – especially with a numbed steering wheel – but when it gathers for a good ride, you feel like a driving driver because you won he.
Realism is the raison d’être of the ACC, and you will be hard pressed to find any console racing title that offers more. The physics is very similar to the simulation and the developers went so far as to take into account the deformation and pressure of the tires as well as the temperatures and wear of the brakes. Try to go all out from the start and you will find yourself in a wall. Try to treat each round as a sprint and everything will quickly run out. The fully animated pit stops are fantastic to watch, but more time in the pits means more time in the last place.
The other epic sim aspect of Assetto Corsa Competizione is the dizzying array of settings for just about every component of the racing car. You can tinker with everything you find on a real race car, including electronics. Booth strategies can also be adjusted, or you can choose from a range of presets for different driving styles. Precise development strategy absolutely comes into play during one of the epic CCA endurance races that run from three hours to 24 hours. And yes, that includes day / night racing in a wide variety of weather conditions.
When it’s time to run, you can choose from a range of driver views, but unfortunately, that’s another problem. In the process of porting from the PC to the console, the visuals of the ACC are pleasant but the action is jerky. The framerate is locked at 30 FPS and it is enough to be extremely distracting during the races. Driving from a helmet perspective is useful, but only because it reduces your vision to a relatively small section of the screen. The game uses the Unreal Engine, and we know the Xbox can run great titles at better speeds.
The framerate is locked at 30 FPS and it is enough to be extremely distracting during the races.
Overall, we spent several hours immersed in the ACC. It is absolutely aimed at people who like to race with legitimate race cars on real world tracks in a realistic environment in real time. In the championship and career modes, you don’t fight your way forward in a three-round shootout. Patience, strategy and more patience is the key to progress, and therefore online gaming should be of a much higher caliber for sim racers looking for a professional racing environment.
For us, the current woes of the wheel have made the process too frustrating to really benefit. Combined with the choppy framerate, it’s hard to justify ACC on current console simulations like Project Cars 2 or Gran Turismo Sport until steering problems are resolved, at the very least. If properly established, ACC on consoles could live up to its reputation as a PC as one of the best simulation-focused titles currently available.