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Le Mans Ultimate Early Access review: successful launch or false start?

The first official Le Mans game in years arrives in half-finished form

Published: 23 Feb 2024

Le Mans Ultimate is out now for PC! Except it isn't. Well not really. What's been released is an 'Early Access' version, which essentially means the game isn't finished yet but you can buy it now on the promise that additional features and improvements will arrive later down the line.

While this might sound like the worst deal since Elon bought Twitter, there is some good news. For a start, both Assetto Corsa Competizione and Dirt Rally launched in exactly the same way and went on to become beloved, richly featured sims. Secondly, ahead of its full release Le Mans Ultimate is on sale for a bargain price of 25 quid.

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More importantly than both of those, though, is the fact that Le Mans Ultimate is fundamentally an engaging racing game. Taking the rocket science sim underpinnings of the highly respected rFactor 2, LMU plugs in cars and tracks that would make a motorsport nerd's glasses instantly steam up.

Even at this Early Access stage, the entire 2023 field and full list of circuits from the World Endurance Championship are present and correct. That means this is currently the only sim that features the gorgeous Ferrari 499P hypercar, which is arguably one of the most beautiful and purposeful-looking racing cars ever created.

You don't need to understand the ins and outs of multi-class endurance racing to appreciate the fact that the game includes both GT and Prototype cars, each with their own distinctive characteristics, mixing it up on the circuit all at once. It's welcome variety and in all the cars, the handling model is detailed and engaging enough that it's a treat just to turn laps and run races.

Which is convenient, because that's pretty much all you can do currently. There's still a fair amount missing from this Early Access release. There's no career or even championship mode to string races together, for example; something we assume will be added in the future. The game is also riddled with more bugs than the insect house at London Zoo. In particular, the user interface will often forget settings you've entered, leaving you having to sit through another loading screen as you fix the problem and restart the race.

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But the real question is, is it worth £25 in its current state? We'd argue yes. Alright, occasionally you'll encounter some quirky glitch that totally ruins a race and feel like you're paying for the privilege of working in quality assurance. For the most part, though, it's worth the pain for the thrill of dicing with an entire field of the most exciting Le Mans machinery in years both in single player and online.

And if we're lucky, in the coming months the developers will wheel out the videogame bug equivalent of a giant can of Raid and you'll have snagged a fully-featured, licensed racing sim for a bargain price.

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