We loved Gear.Club Unlimited when it launched early in the Switch’s lifespan. It, and remains, one of a very few realistically slanted driving games on the Switch. Imagine how happy we were to learn that the dev team behind the game was building a sequel exclusively for the Switch. Sadly, rather than completely break free of its predecessor’s ties to the mobile game that was born from, GCU2 instead infuriatingly sticks with almost everything we didn’t like about the original, while thankfully making the races much longer and often more interesting. Gear.Club Unlimited 2 is disappointingly a mixed bag. This is our review.
First and foremost, I’ll admit that I was sold by the descriptive text for the title:
With the pedal to the metal, race along more than 1800 miles of races!
On the mountainside, through a nature park, in the middle of the desert or along the coast, defend your position over the course of more than 250 races, including championships, missions and challenges.
As you progress through the races, admire the growing collection of cars in your personal garage. Gear.Club Unlimited 2 has more than 50 licensed cars from the world’s most famous manufacturers, such as the Porsche 718 Boxster, 918 Spyder, 911 GT2RS, Dodge Viper, Lotus 3-Eleven or McLaren 720s.
Thing is, this makes it sound almost like GCU2 had ditched the menu-heavy experience of the first game, but that was wishful thinking. This is no open world racer like The Crew 2 or Forza Horizon. I could deal with that, if going from menu to menu and race to race wasn’t so agonizingly slow to load. You’ll spend half of your time in this game staring at (pretty) loading screens that hang at 95% for eons. I’d consider lifting the score on GCU2 considerably if the simple act of getting around its career mode and getting into the races had been faster. It really is that off-putting.
The rest of the game is OK enough. Races are harder, longer, and more interesting. Collision feels good, but sometimes responsiveness of the cars can feel a little weighted. It’s not until you unlock a few more gear options and car choices that things start to speed up. The dev team also decided to needlessly put a narrative about you and your father (the racing team owner), which just feels forced. Racing games don’t need stories, and I thought we knew that now?
Customization of cars is simple, but effective. You always feel like you’re making them more powerful, but the game takes too long to get to earning new cars and opening new gear in your garage. It does have a snazzy decal and painting customization system which will be nice when the online multiplayer is added in a coming patch. For now, there’s plenty of content to be had in the career mode, which does have a ton of races. The downside is that most of them feel repetitive, and a lot of the scenery starts to feel run of the mill rather quickly.