Needs a tune-up.
Racing games are not what they used to be. There seems to be two big names and the rest feel like a passing fancy. So when I sat down to review a proper racing game on the Switch, my expectations were set accordingly. Gear.Club Unlimited looks like a mobile port on the surface, and for good reason, because it is. The ‘Unlimited’ tagline comes from the fact that everything is now open, as opposed to being locked behind a paywall. Still, there have been success stories of mobile ports to console, and Gear.Club Unlimited does shine in some areas.
The game jumps off with players racing a supercar only to be yanked out and tossed into a career mode to get back to where it all started. It feels pedestrian at times thanks to the hand-holding tutorial. Every new thing requires a two-minute explanation. Even the most menial tasks feel hamfisted. The iOS roots shine through. Progression is earned through stars based on performance.
Platforms: Switch, Mobile
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
Once the garage opens up, things get a bit more interesting. I really liked how the upgrade system was laid out. Circling around the car and upgrading the parts on the car itself. It is simple, but effective.
Playing through the single player earns money and XP. Money is used to upgrade and purchase new cars, while XP opens up new upgrades in the garage. The progression hasn’t been tuned for this version, which means grinding is very necessary. Some of the higher-end cars are super expensive. It might not be so bad if they felt worth the time investment. The game feels like a lot of work for very little reward.
Car handling is fine. I found turning off the assists didn’t impact my experience like in most other racing games. Scraping the side of a barrier has little penalty. The tracks also suffer from a bland design problem. None of them feel special or memorable, and there just aren’t enough of them. There are plenty of events, but expect to be repeating the same boring tracks ad nauseum.
For reference I went and dug up the original mobile game on my phone. It is kind of impressive how good it actually looks. In some cases it even looked better than the Switch version. That isn’t saying much. While the presentation is good, the in-game racing just looks bland. From the poor track design to the boxed-out cars, it all feels much like what it is.
I could look past a lot of these issues if this was a $10-$20 game, but this bad boy sits at a whopping $45 retail. I had to check that price twice while writing this review. That feels severely overpriced for the game behind it.
Gear.Club Unlimited could have been yet another gem on the Switch, but ultimately feels like exactly what it is. The price tag is shocking and the changes from the mobile game don’t fit the pace of the core experience. While there are moments of fun to be had, this racing game rarely ends up feeling worth the investment.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.