Assetto Corsa Competizione review: the next generation of racing?

Next-gen tech makes this simulator even more realistic (and brutal).

A screenshot from Assetto Corsa Competizione

by Ryan Gilmore |

If games like Forza Horizon and Gran Turismo are a little arcadey for you, but you're not willing to spend a bucket load of cash on a gaming pc, you have slim pickings when it comes to racing simulation console games. Project Cars got close in its first two iterations but has since been watered down, leaving Assetto Corsa Competizione as the only hardcore, bruiser option available.

Previously, we reviewed the game on PS4 as a limited experience with a few commendable aspects - now it's been enhanced for the PS5 and Xbox Series X is it any better?

What's new?

A screenshot from Assetto Corsa Competizione
©Photo: 505 Games/Kunos Simulazioni

A free upgrade if you own the game on PS4 or Xbox One, Assetto Corsa Competizione still sticks to the GT World Challenge championship, but now includes the 2021 liveries. Aside from the inclusion of private multiple player lobbies and a rejigged multiplayer system that supports 30 racers and new matchmaking, it's still the same fundamental game as before.

Meatier upgrades have taken place with the graphics, however. For a start, the dynamic weather is now photorealistic and benefits from a new multi-channel audio sampling. The game is also able to run in 4K (HD only on the Xbox One S) and features that all-important 60FPS for smoother visuals.

Also available on Xbox Series X

What's good?

A screenshot from Assetto Corsa Competizione
©Photo: 505 Games/Kunos Simulazioni

Visually, the game is still behind the likes of Gran Turismo and Forza but does look richer and more realistic than before. The weather effects, in particular, are better, with rain being as all-encompassing as it would be in a real race - it reduces genuinely visibility and the soaking track reflects its surroundings in stunning detail.

This immersion and detail also extend to the racing. Controlling Assetto Corsa Competizione is not a simple act of mashing buttons - there are real-world physics, rules and other considerations you need to make to race properly and win.

Try some last-minute braking on cold tyres and you'll have a crash. Try some oversteer and you'll have a crash. Forget to put your headlights on at night? You'll have a crash. You can even knock the fuel pump off mid-race while looking for the wiper switch, something that speaking from experience results in your car spluttering to a halt. In short, it's very realistic.

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The brutal noises from inside the cockpit only serve to compound these details. The brakes squeal as you slow down while the car creaks and rattles like a washing machine loaded with bolts as you wrestle it around corners. You almost don't notice the monstrous engine notes through all the other things screaming at you.

It's because of the level of detail that the game offers a genuine feeling of reward whenever you overtake someone (or aren't lapped). Each car feels different to drive too and requires time and patience to master. If you're fanatical about nailing apexes and pushing a race car to its limits, Asseto Corsa is brilliant.

As with most things that land on the PS5, one of the best next-gen delights is the haptic feedback of the DualSense controller. In Assetto Corsa Competizione, its no diffrent.

Rumble strips are no longer a dulled vibration rattling across the whole DualShock controller. Here, catching the front wheel on a raised piece is communicated through accurate and nuanced vibrations and buzzes.

In isolation this is awesome, but when combined with all the other neat touches and delicate details provided by the DualSense, the controller translates a genuine sense of momentum and weight transfer into the gameplay. It helps you understand grip barriers and intuit how much you can push around a particular corner. Couple this with the pressure-sensitive triggers, with their adaptive feedback flicking even more information through your digits, and it's a very classy and innovative experience.

What's bad?

A screenshot from Assetto Corsa Competizione
©Photo: 505 Games/Kunos Simulazioni

If you're a fan of rich car lists and near-endless customisation options, you'll be in store for disappointment. To keep the game accurate, there are only GT3 cars from the 2018-2021 racing series (GT4 cars are available as DLC).

There's little visual customisation either, limited to changing the colours and numbers, a far cry from the dedicated livery maker that most racing games now support. Slightly better is the car tuning setting, it's nowhere near the level Project Cars was at but does exceed the likes of Forza.

The game is also intense, especially if you're used to the cushioned safety nets of arcade racers. It's not a game the average person would play to unwind, a longer endurance race with a proper racing wheel will leave you feeling tense, and in need of some Deep Heat and a lie-down.

Verdict?

A screenshot from Assetto Corsa Competizione
©Photo: 505 Games/Kunos Simulazioni

We reviewed Assetto Corsa Competizione for the previous generation and could almost copy and paste the conclusion here. It's still the same rather niche racer. It'll appeal to simulation racers for its hardcore purity, but will inevitably be a little much for the average gamer.

This next-gen upgrade isn't an all-new game, but it enhances the core experience successfully enough: graphics are improved and the overall experience smoother, but it's still the same limited game underneath.

Still, it's a free upgrade if you owned the PS4 or Xbox One version, and it does make the most of the current crop of consoles.

Also available on Xbox Series X

How we tested it:

We tested Assetto Corsa Competizione on a PlayStation 5 using both a steering wheel and a controller. Several people, all with different skill levels, played a variety of races at different difficulties.

Other products used in this test: Thrustmaster T-GT II Racing Wheel | PlayStation 5

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