Developer: Eden Games; Released: October 14, 2016
Reviewed on: Razer Phone, Android 7.0
*I’ve tested the game on Android and have no reflection on the features available in the Nintendo Switch release
Gear Club established itself among the best games on the Google Play Store and for a good reason: the game offers a wealth of content for a free-to-play game title and doesn’t necessitate any spending, which brings incredible value to mobile gamers in a no-cost to enter game package. Among racing games especially, Gear Club stands out on mobile as one of the most detailed games available to play and features extensive detail for a free title, which is impressive given its one of the fairest economies in free to download games. All of the features add up to measure this game against the likes of it on the PC platform and one that stands out on the mobile market as one of the best entries to play.
Gear Club comes from Eden Games studios, a name that might be familiar to some for those who played the Test Drive Unlimited series that used to be a major innovation in open-world racing, that is until Forza Horizon kicked it right off the market. Gear Club in turn takes a lot of inspiration from Test Drive Unlimited, although its scope still lacks an open-world format. Instead, we are presented with a wealth of single player content with potential for replayability, in what is the biggest racing game on iOS and Android by far. Gear Club sports an extensive single player campaign that is distributed across a large overworld and a vast array of cars available to choose from. Further, Gear Club has potential for a fun miltiplayer experience with its limited run events and a fully fledged challenge mode to race other people, however I haven’t delved into those to a significant extent. To those looking to kill time over long flights, Gear Club is one of the best games for it, although beware of free-to-play progression systems set in place. The game is free to download, and all content is available for every player, however its progression has a curve to it that is reflective of most free-to-play games. Overall, however, Gear Club includes an expansive single player campaign along with detailed graphics into one of the most fair free-to-play economies to be seen in mobile gaming so far.
Gear Club features one of the most expansive worlds on mobile, even if it lacks openness in its direct sense by being set across a vast map of closed championships, which happen across jungles, deserts and even towns. The world map is designed to be unlocked through progression, so events gradually become available as the player earns stars for career wins and the game goes on. To this extent, there is a plentiful amount of cars to be unlocked that span multiple car classes. Although it is nearly impossible to acquire all the cars in the game by default, each class features multiple sweet cars to select from. Each of the cars is further upgradeable on different stats, and each can also be visually modified to add flavour to favourite rides, and the game’s progression features unlocking different facilities for car upgrades. All of this adds up to an extensive career mode, which is not only centred on events, but also backs up the content through an expansive system of upgrades.
To pay for all that, the game’s rewards system needs to be fair enough to avoid a “pay to play” criticism of many free titles on mobile, and Gear Club rewards players enough to avoid currency walls in its progression. The player never feels forced to spend money on the game, even if the progression becomes slower as more upgrades are demanded by career events, and obtaining multiple cars early on is easy enough to expand the progression curve to multiple vehicles. As such, Gear Club’s very liberal economy provides players with the means to enjoy the game with no requirement for spending real money on it, which plays to the title’s strengths. Overall, I never felt forced to pause the game even when pressured by upgrades, and I’ve always had a car available to race in a championship. Although Gear Club appears specifically designed to be played extensively through a smart economic system, there is enough content to warrant multiple gaming sessions.
The graphics are really detailed, and although Gear Club is still not on par with modern PC titles, it delivers sharp textures and rich detail in all its cars and environments. Given you have a powerful phone to play it on, Gear Club is stellar in its presentation and performs really well on high-end flagships. It looks especially stunning on the Razer Phone, and looks smoother on the UltraMotion display, however any 2K phone will provide high levels of detail. The game’s rich colours expose further detail and textures are some of the best you can get on mobile so far, which helps the game deliver on many of the positives discussed above.
In conclusion, Gear Club is an appealing value proposition for racing fans, and delivers an in-depth experience equivalent to the simulation detail of Real Racing 3, all of which is available for free as long as the player has patience. Paired with the vivid detail, Gear Club presents one of the best game experiences available through the appstore. Finally, the game’s fair economy guarantees no obstacles in campaign progression and the wealth of content will have players coming back for more.