► Official game of the Blancpain GT championship
► Interesting tracks, cars and weather
► But no N24, and it's PC only
F1 racing might have the technology, the overall speed and the glamour, but it’s GT racing that arguably has the closest, most nail-biting racing. The Blancpain GT championship is a great example of this – and now there’s a game that lets you relive the 2018 and 2019 season. Two more things: it comes from the makers of one of our favourite racing games: Assetto Corsa, and it’s also PC-only.
Assetto Corsa Competizione is the fully licenced game for the GT championship, and that means its packed with all the cars and tracks from both seasons. Compare it GT Sport or the original Assetto Corsa and you’ll find the garage small and limiting; think of it like another licensed game such as F1 2019, and you’ll find the limitations more authentic.
What cars and tracks can you get?
GT cars arguably sit in the sweet spot of racing cars. Touring cars, road cars and classics can often feel too unpredictable and slow, while open-wheelers and Le Mans cars are much faster, grippier and also snappier. GT cars fit somewhere in between: they’ve got oodles of grip and are rapid out of corners, but they move around just enough to give you real feedback. At the same time, they’re unruly enough to make staying on the track and banging out a string of proper laps a proper achievement. You're genuinely doing something behind the wheel.
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What’s more, the BoP or Balance of Performance means that the Blancpain grid features a variety of machines. There’s the Porsche 911’s inner-ear stripping flat-six, the unmistakable rumble of the Merc V8, and the metallic harmony of the Audi R8 to name a few.
The track selection isn’t massive, but, like the car line-up, there’s a nice variation. Unlike GT Sport, you will be able to drive Silverstone on ACC, and other tracks like Brands Hatch, Barcelona, Suzuka, Laguna Seca and Spa are also here. There’s no Nordschleife, though.
But, there are some more unusual tracks too: Zandvoort, the Hungaroring, Zolder, Kylami and Mount Panorama aren’t part of the usual racing game line-up, but you’ll find them here.
And the graphics?
Being a PC game, this depends greatly on the machinery you’re using. We installed our copy of the game on a relatively powerful gaming PC, cranked everything up to Ultra and the results were pretty impressive. But while the car models were clean and the lighting realistic, AC Competizione didn’t have the same eye-candy as GT Sport on PS4 Pro, or the latest Forza on Xbox One X. Sunsets in HDR look incredible on Sony’s racer, but there’s something missing here – despite the detail.
That’s not to say Assetto Corsa is a bad looking game though. The weather and nighttime effects – yes there’s dynamic weather in this game – are impressive: rain is subtle but annoying, and pools of standing water glisten on the track in an almost photorealistic way.
Sound is impressive too, giving you a very raw, noisy soundtrack throughout. Kunos really has nailed the onboard ‘mid-stint’ atmosphere.
A VR set-up is possible, and a three-screen rig is compatible too, but we didn’t try either this time. We’ll update this article when we do.
But how does it drive?
Assetto Corsa is one of the most engaging racing games you can buy, and Competizione is no different. Cars seem to dance on the tarmac, giving you reams of information through the wheel. It certainly takes a while to get up to speed – especially if you’re used to more arcade-like handling, but once you do it’s fantastic.
Take a corner on cold tyres, and well, you end up on the grass. Go into bend a little hot or wide, and the apex will require a completely different adjustment to the lap before. Did you take a bit more kerb on the apex than last time? Expect the car to be very much out of shape by the time you’re trying to pin the throttle.
There’s nothing routine about driving in Assetto Corsa. There’s so much detail and room for error in that when you do nail a lap on the edge, not only does it look like art – with throttle, braking and tyre grip fighting together in harmony – there’s a serious sense of achievement too.
Competizione also brings in a wealth of adjustment in for ABS, crake balance and TC systems – just like the real Blancpain GT series. You can start with a very low TC when your tyres are grippy and fresh, and then slowly crank it up towards the end of your stint. And when the weather takes a turn, it’s possible to crank it further, and move the braking bias back. If you’re using the Thrustmaster TS-PC Racer like we are, you can make all those adjustments via the wheel, too. Very authentic.
Every car feels different too: The Porsche is more nimble and nervous through the fast stuff, the AMG is planted but hard to coax to the apex, and the Lamborghini and Audi are somewhere in between.
The licencing means ACC is either very authentic or very limited – it depends on how much you like GT cars – but get past that and Competizione is much like the standard Assetto Corsa game – both for good and bad reasons.
In many ways, it feels like an almost finished game – especially if you’re used to the bulletproof, content rich world of console games like GT Sport or Forza.
If you’re happy with doing time trials and making online lobbies with friends, then Competizione is fantastic. If, however, you want a single player campaign, intelligent AI and a solid multiplayer platform, look elsewhere. GT Sport this certainly is not.