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Gaming: Assetto Corsa Competizione Review

Official Blancpain series game is GT racing at its finest

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Assetto Corsa Competizione, out now on PC, takes a different tack from the previous Assetto Corsa game. Instead of a haphazard mishmash of cars and circuits, it focusses entirely on recreating a single GT racing championship with poindexter-like precision. The last game to do that was 2006’s GTR 2, a landmark simulator that’s still spoken of in hushed, reverent, Attenborough-esque tones in sim racing circles. No pressure then.

If you haven’t already stumbled upon the Blancpain GT series, either on YouTube or on an obscure sports channel buried deep in the mid 400s on the EPG, here’s a primer: it’s a field of angry, race-spec versions of your favourite supercars hammering around some of Europe’s finest racetracks and its centrepiece is the gloriously gruelling Spa 24 Hours. Oh and be prepared to see the surname Harris pop up on the results sheet on a regular basis.

ACC blends Assetto Corsa’s legendarily communicative handling with 10 laser scanned circuits and the 2018 fields from both the Sprint and Endurance competitions. The result is a game that drips with authenticity and never more so than when you race into the night in a completely convincing virtual Spa 24. The only thing missing is the faint whiff of a waffle stand as you barrel through Eau Rouge.

It also looks like Assetto Corsa Competizione will be snagging the award for ‘Prettiest Racing Game of 2019’ to go alongside its trophy for ‘Least Pronounceable Name With a Mouthful of Food’. Visually it’s stunning, with micron-accurate car models and the sort of heartbreakingly beautiful lighting that a Hollywood cinematographer would kill for. Just make sure you bring a suitably hefty gaming PC to shift all those pixels. If you try and run this on your work laptop your gaming session will likely end with you frantically putting out a small electrical fire.

Don’t be put off by the fact that the cars are all drawn from the GT3 class, each of them has a distinct personality. The large, boaty Bentley Continental GT3, for example, handles entirely differently from the more pointy but tail-happy Porsche 911 GT3 R, which in turn handles differently from an Aston Vantage with a V12 lump in the front. Being quick in each will take its own particular nuanced driving style and you’ll have to carefully consider your quarry when you line up an overtake too. No more closing your eyes and hoping for the best.

Assetto Corsa Competizione isn’t perfect. The bare bones career mode is limp in comparison to the one found in recent F1 games and the multiplayer system currently feels like it’s held together with string and chewing gum. When you’re on the track, though, battling through a sudden rain shower at 11pm with gritted teeth you’ll feel every inch the professional endurance racer. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got a Chris Harris to chase down…

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