The first realistic racing game on Nintendo Switch, Gear.Club Unlimited, has started its engines today. Originally released on smartphones a few years ago, Eden Games, the developers of Gear.Club Unlimited, tout the Switch version as a premium experience.
Is the game worth your 50 bucks and most importantly, your time? It’s time to take a drive through the windy roads of Gear.Club Unlimited.
Gear.Club Unlimited features two different modes, a Single Player campaign and an Arcade Multiplayer mode which will get into later.
In Campaign Mode, drivers take part in Championships all across the Mediterranean. Each Championship consists of a multiple set of races (could be anywhere between 3 to 6 races), with each race taking between 1 to 3 minutes depending on the number of laps and type of track.
Not every race is the same though – sometimes you may be racing against 3 other CPU opponents, 7 CPU opponents, or engage in a Time Trial. There are around 200 tracks in the game, some of which seem to be variations of the same track (different start/end points, etc). You will also get to race in different times of the day (morning, afternoon, night). Certain tracks, known as “Rally tracks”, are dirt road tracks which put every vehicle participating in a Rally race at maximum drift and speed. There’s pretty much a lot of variety in the races.
The goal is to receive 3 stars from each race (and subsequently the entire championship) as the more stars you get, the more areas you unlock. The easiest way to do that is by placing first for every race. Depending on your performance, you’ll also rewarded with some in-game money and gain experience in order to level up and unlock new items in the Performance Shop.
Racing is just one part of the equation in the single player Campaign Mode. Gear.Club Unlimited features a Performance Shop where drivers get to build and customize the cars they want. The Performance Shop is fully customizable with furniture, upgrade stations, and parking slots to show off your cars.
Don’t underestimate the importance of upgrading your cars because it may be hard to win in the later Championships the appear in the game without upgrading the parts of your car first. Besides upgrading various car parts like the engine and body, you’ll be able to change the type of tyres and color/design of the car depending on its model.
Not every car is equal in Gear.Club Unlimited too. Cars are categorized in a couple of different – A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, etc. The Championships that you can enter completely depends on your car’s category, but fortunately, you’ll be able to unlock more Car Dealers to purchase more powerful cars over the course of Campaign Mode.
So over the course of Campaign Mode you can expect to take part in more championships, buy more cars, upgrade those cars, unlock more areas, and basically rinse and repeat for the next dozen of hours. For the completionist, you’ll probably need even more time if you plan to unlock every single car, upgrade them to their maximum, and reach the highest level possible.
Unlike the smartphone version of Gear.Club, you won’t have to worry about microtransactions or cool-down times at all, so you can stay completely focused on buying the car you want without worrying about microtransactions.
And now for the most important part of this review – racing in Gear.Club Unlimited.
Gear.Club Unlimited plays just like almost any other standard racing game out in the market. Basic controls are ZL to brake, ZR to accelerate, L-stick to steer, and R to view in reverse mode. You’ll also be able to view in first or third person perspective. If you dislike the controls you can configure them at any point of time in the options menu, but I personally have no issues with it. If you love motion controls, Gear.Club Unlimited supports motion steering for both the Joy-Con and Pro Controller. They pretty much work the same way as Mario Kart – easy to steer.
For a racing game that has been ported over from smartphones to Nintendo Switch, over the hundreds of times I’ve raced in Gear.Club Unlimited, I’m happy to say that Gear.Club Unlimited feels like a console-level racing game. The controls are intuitive, it’s easy to control the vehicle, and personally the entire experience (the sound of the vehicle, the beautiful landscape and environment, and controls) is excellent.
Eden Games has also included two useful features for beginners racing in Gear.Club Unlimited. The first is the Rewind feature, which I found to be a very handy lifesaver. With this feature you can rewind to an earlier part of the race in the event you wish to correct a mistake you made (such as colliding into something). The Rewind feature simply works perfectly. Another feature is a guiding line that can be found on every racing track that shows you the best route to take, which will greatly help beginners in winning those time trials.
Difficulty levels can also be adjusted at any point of time, as well as the level of automation for the vehicle which will either make it easier or harder to drive. So whether you’re new to racing or someone experienced, there’s something for you in this game.
Although the races have been pretty smooth for me, I’ve sometimes encountered frame rate drops especially when there are too many vehicles on the road. As I’ve always been leading the pack, I didn’t really notice this happening too often.
As every vehicle found in Gear.Club Unlimited is based on a real car produced by a real manufacturer in real life, each vehicle will feel slightly different from each other. Brands that can be found in Gear.Club Unlimited include Ford, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar, Mustang, and many others. Unfortunately we aren’t able to tell how accurate each car is (since we didn’t test drive one in real life), but based on what Eden Games has claimed, the in-game speed and other stats have remained faithful to their real life counterparts.
One negative point I’d like to point out is the lack of an Arcade Mode for single player. There’s no way to choose the tracks I want to race as well as the number of laps and difficulty of CPU in single player mode. For some reason this is only possible in the Arcade Multiplayer Mode which requires at least two players.
Gear.Club Unlimited, unfortunately, is lacking in multiplayer options. The only real multiplayer option it supports is split-screen multiplayer on the same Nintendo Switch for up to 4 players.
In split-screen multiplayer you’ll be able to configure the cars you want to drive, the tracks you want, the number of laps, CPU, and all sorts of other things. If you love sharing your Joy-Con, you’ll be happy to know that Gear.Club Unlimited also supports the one Joy-Con controller configuration.
We have tested playing split-screen multiplayer with two players and found that the races were pretty smooth, except for the occasional dip in frame rate.
Other than split-screen multiplayer, Gear.Club Unlimited doesn’t support local multiplayer with multiple Nintendo Switch devices in the same room, and disappointingly neither does it have a real online multiplayer mode. There’s however something called “Leagues” where you can fight against other players in Time Trials, so we don’t really consider that is a real online option.
Although Gear.Club was originally a smartphone title, Gear.Club Unlimited races and feels like a console title. It has lots of content to keep racing fans and beginners busy and satisfied in its extensive Single Player Campaign Mode, from fine tuning cars to intense races. There’s a huge lineup of official real world cars that racing enthusiasts will also appreciate.
However for a racing title on Switch, the game is lacking in terms of online multiplayer, which is something that is fundamental for a racing game on Switch, as well as an Arcade Mode for single player which should have been included in the very beginning.
In conclusion, if you’re someone who doesn’t mind not being able to race online with others, Gear.Club Unlimited is still worth your time and money. But if the lack of online bothers you, you may want to wait for the price to drop.
- Huge lineup of official cars that stay faithful to their real counterparts
- Beautiful and immersive tracks
- Extensive campaign mode with Performance Shop and hundreds of races
- Split-screen multiplayer support
- Lack of online multiplayer
- Lack of Arcade Mode
Soup Verdict: If you don’t mind the lack of some spices, this is still a good soup to try out.
A review code was provided by Microids for this review.