Gear Club Unlimited: Power (Steering) Hour Review (Switch)
(Full disclosure: I received a review code for a free copy of Gear Club Unlimited, but that has not influenced my opinions of this title in any way)
So it is no small secret around here that my driving in video games is absolutely abominable, kart racers may or may not be an exception with those I am only terrible. But that hasn’t stopped me from wanting to play racing games. I have always imagined myself racing around a track (without crashing into walls and other cars), but never really took the plunge in a racing game…until now.
This week I’ve been playing Gear Club Unlimited (Eden Games) on the Switch. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about this title at first because the past Gear Club game was a mobile title and I have not usually been terribly impressed with mobile games that make a move to console, but the Switch has made me more adventurous as a gamer and the team at Eden Games has a history with racing titles that go back almost 2 decades to games like the V-Rally games on the Playstation.
Let me start by saying Gear Club Unlimited is pretty, not Forza Motorsports 7 4K pretty of course, but a game with nice visuals that are more reminiscent of the graphics on the Xbox 360 at the end of its life cycle. The cars are nice looking and I really enjoyed being able to look inside the vehicles and under the hood at the dealership as well as being able to test drive the vehicles before committing to them. This game has a lot of little extras like that. Early in the game you unlock a performance shop where you can customize your vehicle’s engine, gearbox, tires, paint, exterior, and more. You can also customize the performance center itself by adding vending machines, exercise equipment (presumably for the driver), and furniture.
As you play through the championship circuits in the game you earn stars that unlock new circuits, new car dealerships that sell different vehicle classes, and new racing modes (such as rally mode). The game also comes with its own personal pit chief, Jo (who looks eerily like John Stamos to me), who gives you a series of quests that help you earn money (in addition to the money that you earn by winning races) to help with the cost of upgrading your performance center and purchasing new vehicles.
Having played through the first couple of championships thus far I can say that the tracks are varied and the races take place at different times of the day. You can feel the difference in the ways that the various cars handle and you can feel the changes in the vehicle upgrades. One of things that I found myself wishing for at the start was rumble, but upon digging into the options I found that the option does exist, but is turned off by default. I imagine that turning some of the more power hungry options like rumble and gyroscope off by default is a hold over from the mobile version which would want to be less of a drain on a phone’s battery. It would also be useful if you were playing this game on the go on the Switch. I have to admit that I found the rumble a bit underwhelming, it seems that there should be more feedback for smashing your car into a wall (which I did a fair amount).
If you are a car person the various dealerships offer a fair number of cars in different price ranges for each class making it easier to move to the next class of championship while still upgrading other cars and the performance shop. It should also be noted that each station in the performance shop must be upgraded before it can be used with the next class of cars so there is definitely reason to grind in the game.
Gear Club Unlimited has local multiplayer for up to 4 players so it would be great for say entertaining yourself (and 3 of your closest friends) at Thanksgiving dinner while everyone else is hogging the television to watch football. The game also has Multiplayer League Mode and ranked play, but I can’t tell you how that plays out yet because the game had not yet officially launched when I played it for this review so it wasn’t available.
Overall I can say that Gear Club Unlimited is a solid little racing game for the Switch and definitely fun to take on the go. The $45 USD price tag might be a little off-putting for some who are looking for a home console racing game experience, but it is a game that can definitely provided you with some on the go racing enjoyment.