Assetto Corsa Competizione Review

Assetto Corsa Competizione; what can I say except that I have a love/hate relationship with this game. The things it does well are really, really done well. On the other hand, some of its faults are glaringly bad. 

As I’m testing this on both a wheel and controller, it may come across as two separate reviews. Actually it probably would be fair to give two separate scores for both wheel users and controller users because the difference is that drastic. 

With all that being said, I want to point out that Assetto Corsa Competizione is a racing simulator – GT3‘s specifically. You won’t find any Formula 1’s or American Muscle cars here. And there is definitely not an arcade-like feel on a controller that you would find on games like Forza. If a controller is what you’ll be playing with then this is where the red flags start to go up.

Yes it is possible to play Assetto Corsa Competizione using a gamepad, so long as you are willing to spend some time in the settings menu. For me the default controls are way too sensitive and the default configuration is not as intuitive as with other racing titles. The physics of the game are just so realistic that it makes playing on a controller nearly impossible without messing about with the options.

Using an Elite controller with the longer thumbsticks and the gears mapped to the paddles on the back helps immensely. I still couldn’t put in any lap times to brag about, but at least I was able to get around the course cleanly. On a standard controller, with the shorter thumbsticks, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make it around Monza without spinning out on every other corner. Now, I’ve seen some devices that clip on to your controller that basically let you steer as if it’s an RC car. I may need to get one of those just to see how that handles on Assetto, because it clearly was designed with wheel users in mind.

Now, if you are fortunate enough to own a racing wheel or are planning on picking one up then Assetto Corsa Competizione is a must play title. I’m using a Thrustmaster TMX wheel with the T3PA pedal set and I must say that it is the most accurate feeling game I’ve played to date. The wheel response is smooth and natural feeling. Not herky jerky at all. The biggest downside I’ve noticed using a wheel is having to reset my settings as on occasion they revert back to default. But I’m not sure if that’s a game issue or perhaps a Thrustmaster issue as I’ve experienced this on other games as well.

From a visual stand point Assetto takes a backseat to the likes of the Forza Motorsport titles. The level of realism is just not the same, even though the track elevation changes are probably more accurate. Pop ups in the background scenery are occasionally eye catching and can be distracting at times. The heads up display is capable but not altogether necessary, as most of that same information is accurately displayed on your cars dashboard. True sim fanatics may opt to turn it off altogether.

Sound wise I’ve not heard better engine noise outside of going to a real track. Hearing the cars go by while getting your tires changed on pit road is almost like actually being there. Especially on a good surround system or capable headset. Your crew chief talking to you over the radio is a nice touch but could be a bit more dynamic. Mixing in multiple takes of the same phrase with different tone and urgency would really boost the realism. As it is now it’s merely functional and comes across a bit monotone.

Gameplay consists of a few modes; first up is Championship, where you can play through a single season. Career has you starting off as a new driver, trying to pass the trials and get signed to a team. Special Events seem to be a cycling of tracks and objectives for specific leaderboards, or single player races can be set up, from a hotlap all the way to a full race weekend.

Multiplayer has a number of options as well. No matter what mode you choose to spend your time in, you want to seriously try to keep your car under control. Recovering from a spin out off the track can be a real struggle – especially if you are using a controller. It is far too easy to apply too much power to the throttle and find yourself continuously facing the wrong direction as you spin over and over again when all you want to do is get back on the track.

Checking your driver profile is really helpful in showing you where and how you can improve. So much so that you can take what you learn here and apply it to other racing games. There’s some really helpful advice on offer here, I recommend you use it.

Time of day and weather conditions are a factor as well. It affects tire and track temperature, which in turn affects grip and traction. I’ve found that racing at night I tend to not lose grip as much as when I drive in the day, which I found odd at first – I’d have thought it would have been the other way around. In actuality, because it was night I was simply being more cautious.

Racing in wet weather looks great. The water droplets don’t bead up as much as they do in Forza, which I find to be a bit more realistic as they smear just a bit as the wipers go across the glass. While driving in wet weather does require you to slow down more through the more technical sections of track, it doesn’t seem to have that hydroplaning effect that happens all too often in Forza Motorsport.

Conclusion

All in all, 505 Games and KUNOS Simulazioni have a great simulator for wheel users. It provides excellent feedback and is the way the play, if you’ve the right set up. Controller users can still find enjoyment if they take the time to tweak settings, but they will definitely miss out to a degree. Those less experienced with racing games should probably be wary of jumping in here too, as the sim style of racing could be a turn off until they “git gud”, as they say. 

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Looks pretty good
  • Plenty to keep you occupied
  • Audio is excellent
  • Driver profile is a great tool
Bad
  • Playing with a gamepad feels far inferior, more so than other racers
8.3
Great
Gameplay - 8
Graphics - 7
Audio - 9
Longevity - 9
Written by
Born in New Jersey across the Hudson from Manhattan, I've been playing games for over 30 years. I can confidently say that I've played at least one game on every console ever made. An accomplished Forza artist, I enjoy racing games, platformer/puzzlers, adventure/RPG's, sports titles, and arcade shooters, although I have been known to play some FPS's on occasion. JPep715 on Xbox and jpepek715 on Twitch, feel free to add or give me a follow.

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