It’s nowhere near the celebration some were hoping for; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. YouTube personality Los Santos Sheriff has recently uploaded a detailed preview of Kunos Simulazioni’s Assetto Corsa for the PlayStation 4, and as we’ve predicted here on PRC.net several months in advance, sim racers will most likely be subjected to an utterly disappointing experience that does not reflect the incessant hype surrounding the title. Like the tendency for cars of the prancing horse variety to spontaneously burst into flames – events routinely captured by high definition cameras and spread around the globe faster than the Ferrari FXX can hit 60 miles per hour from a standing start, Assetto Corsa on the PlayStation 4 apparently suffers from numerous mechanical issues under the hood that will simply not be tolerated by even the most hardcore of Kunos Simulazioni apologists.
The piece by Los Santos Sheriff comes in at just over five minutes in length, but is filled to the brim with discoveries of problems that are a genuine cause for concern mere weeks before release. Given how short this video is, I urge everyone to at least skim through what our resident Eastern European counterpart has to say about the simulator before we dig through his revelations, as there’s going to be a lot of damage control in the coming weeks, and it’s safe to say the shills will be working overtime for their complimentary DLC codes.
Let’s start with his first bit of praise – the completely revitalized main menu and heads up display. There is no sugar coating this one, the default interface found within the PC version of Assetto Corsa straight up sucks, and looks as if it would be more at home in a fancy technical demo like BeamNG Drive, or an early WMD build of Project CARS. Los Santos Sheriff praises the fact that the game finally has a menu and general overlay that isn’t completely preposterous, and it’s really in this moment that I realized how far off the map the sim racing genre has fallen. We’re halfway through 2016, Codemasters’ F1 2016 will allow you to customize your own driver’s helmet, and across the genre in the land of hardcore sim racing, you have someone praising the mere existence of a finished menu. Label me a terrible person all you want for this extremely offensive analogy, but it’s as if he’s the parent of a special needs child and celebrating his son’s ability to memorize all twenty six letters of the alphabet, while the rest of the children his age are beginning to experiment with girls and try out for sports teams. We should be past this.
Next, I’d like to dig into what Los Santos Sheriff has to say about the visual fidelity of Assetto Corsa on the PlayStation 4. As someone who owns this game on the PC, I can attest to the fact that Assetto Corsa isn’t exactly a great looking game. At times, with everything cranked up, a certain ATI application working its magic in the background, and the post-processing filters tweaked to be subtle yet effective, Assetto Corsa can look good, but most of the times, it simply doesn’t. Our boy notes that there have been obvious visual downgrades to an already average looking game, and certain elements such as the anti-aliasing and reflections are of extremely poor quality and an instant eyesore – or “pretty crappy” as Sheriff puts it. He does mention that if you’re not interested in the visual fidelity of racing simulators in general, you’ll be able to look past the obvious decline in quality compared to the PC version, though this sort of defeats the point of buying a next-generation console in the first place – you’re paying to have an across-the-board improvement in your gaming experience, and graphics are a large part of that.
Lastly, and probably the biggest takeaway from this video, is the sheer abundance of bugs and system crashes Sheriff experienced while trying to film footage for his preview. Considering the game has already gone gold and with launch day just a few weeks away, for this random YouTube personality to run into crippling performance issues so close to release is a major cause for concern. Sheriff spends the last portion of the video explaining how the game crashed on him no less than five or six times both in menus and while trying to run solo laps at Monza, indicating there are major instability issues with the software at its core.
Had this video been uploaded back in the early portion of 2016, it would be understandable for a product deep in development to exhibit routine crashes or other miscellaneous problems because that’s what happens when a game simply isn’t done yet, but with the game hitting store shelves less than a month from now, this is a giant red flag. We haven’t even began discussing the lack of modes or functionality in the title, nor have we talked about how console racers will react to a game this bland after years of incredibly detailed offline experiences found in monolithic entities like Need for Speed, Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo; we’re instead at a situation were after enormous hype, random YouTube personalities can barely play the game at a preview event without it suffering from colossal lock-ups requiring a complete system reboot.
From these impressions alone, the decision by Kunos Simulazioni to make Assetto Corsa into a multi-platform racing experience seems to have been a grossly negligent call. Originally billed as a hardcore PC racing simulator intended to be the spiritual successor to many different offerings that didn’t quite make it, the new shift in focus has not warranted any sort of satisfactory results. Owners of the PC version have been forced to deal with remedial improvements and a torrent of hastily slapped-together downloadable content packages rather than worthwhile additions to the game, and the time spent on creating a console version counterpart has already failed to materialize into positive feedback before it’s been officially released out into the wild. If the observations by Sheriff are even partially authentic, we’re looking at a scenario where the disastrous release of last year’s Project CARS was just the pregame warmup.