Automobilista 2 Review

Automobilista 2 (AMS2) is a racing sim from Reiza studios which aims to simulate the Brazilian motorsports scene, including cars, tracks and manufacturers. New in this second iteration, Reiza apply almost a decades worth of development experience and include some of the most enjoyable cars and tracks from the wider international motorsports scene too. 

AMS2 also makes use of the Madness engine, which for fans of Project CARS is the same engine running that but make no mistake this isn’t Project CARS with a different name, while some interface graphics will look familiar, it is the driving on offer that first appears as evidence that Reiza have made this their own. 

The short of it is, Reiza have managed to polish and improve on an already spectacular game engine and create a simulator which has predictable and enjoyable handling, which allow the sim driver to really push to that edge and even explore beyond that, all while informing the driver through some world class Force Feedback, allowing you to catch that slide and wrangle the car beneath you. While the driving is sublime, unfortunatley some bugs are present which seem to have slipped by and this is disappointing at best. 

These bugs and glitches which have made their way to the final build, as ASM2 was available through Steam Early Access initially, haven’t ruined the driving experience or rendered the title unplayable but for a game put into full release, it has signs of the decision being rushed and as of writing the game is upto V1.0.0.3. 

While it is promising to see the updates pushed out regularly, the small issues still present would make it hard to recommend at its current price, until these issues are no longer present but having experienced the feel and handling, which shines bright in AMS2, it is also very easy to put these shortcomings to the side and just enjoy the visceral feel that this motorsports sim has to offer.

What Needs Work

As mentioned, there are a few things which need work and the first and probably the most frustrating is the glitches which show up in the career mode. Firstly, if you don’t have the correct car set in test or single race modes, you’ll load into the career races in the entirely wrong car. It is also clear that this aspect was a last-minute addition, something that Reiza studios admit to, as they have said they are still working on this mode and plan to flesh it out with future updates. While I respect the amount of due love, care and attention that makes AMS2 an unforgettable experience, plus the small scale of the team working on this, a final build or full release, should really showcase the developer’s final vision. The current state and size of the current career mode is tacky and only goes to damaging the reputation and driving polish, of a sim which doesn’t need half-baked game modes added, since it doesn’t bring anything valuable. Unfortunately, this is a tactic Triple A games have been getting away with in the past decade, so it looks like Reiza tried the same move, which is straight from the play-book of the big boys. 

Then we move to the AI, while it has been improved in the updates, the AI controlled cars seem to stick almost exclusively to the racing line, and this is most notable on the opening lap as the majority of the AI refuse to find space or go for overtakes, especially if it takes them off the ideal line. They are also capable of moves which only a super human machine could replicate in real life, especially when they knock and rub, as their ability to control tank slappers is beyond human. Things do improve after the first lap and they will go toe to toe, providing some enjoyable racing but it’s an aspect which does need further work. 

Then we have multiplayer, while not the fault of Reiza, it may be a side effect of the price, bugs or a lack of licenced content but the online servers are very quiet, while on the first few days of full release there where some servers going with decent player numbers, just a few weeks later, it is impossible to find a server with more than one or two drivers. This forces you to go back to offline play and if you want to get racing with some competition the AI right now don’t offer enough of a unique driving experience and realism at times. 

Then we have the small bugs, issues like certain graphical glitches with windscreen wipers or onboard camera placements, which have a fully obscured view and other infrequent graphical pop ins or aliasing errors. These are things which don’t break the game or render it unplayable but again need to be mentioned since this is supposed to be out of early access, not still being developed and QA tested. 

The Good Stuff

For all those flaws, it’s the driving and force feedback in AMS2 which cannot be beat. The first time you get lapping, you’ll quickly realise that you are somehow hooked directly into the sim matrix, as the physics in this feel so natural, that there isn’t a need for a learning curve, as you can immediately apply muscle memory from the real world and have it work seamlessly as you embark on your adventure, finding the absolute limit. 

Finding that limit in some sims is either on or it is off, meaning once you pass that boundary you are no longer in control, usually resulting in spinning out and a sudden meeting with the wall but in Automobilista, you can much more predictably catch a slide, apply corrective steering, dab the brakes or lift off the accelerator and have the car behave in a manner you would expect. This all culminates into a pure driving experience which is not only loads of fun but better than anything else currently on the market. 

There is also a nice range of car classes available, each which handles in their own unique & proper way. While many of what is available is seldom heard of Brazilian cars or unlicensed reproductions, this in no way detracts from the overall experience on offer. When you combine the FFB and the sublime fundamental physics model running in the Madness engine, whatever it is you are currently driving comes alive. From the raw power in the Super V8’s, redlining a hatchback at 140Km/h, balancing the size of racing trucks or going back in time to race some retro open wheel beasts, the range and selection on offer is in its own right commendable. 

AMS2 also uses the Madness engine which was the same game engine running Project CARS but it’s what Reiza have managed to do with it, that is the real award. The game looks and runs very smooth and seeing dappled light bask over the track at sunset goes to show just how beautiful it can be.  

Since AMS2 also uses the Madness engine it also has all the wet weather technology that is second to none, standing water will form in low lying areas, dusty run off areas beside the circuits, will become soggy bogs best avoided, plus it also has dynamic day night cycles with every weather system but snow. 

Then we have the sound engineering which livens up each race, the whizz of the curbs, the clatter of gravel hitting the cars body, tyres sliding on a wet track or the screech on a dry one plus all the other important details which help create immersion. 

The Other Stuff

Then we have all the features on offer in AMS2 and the selection of tracks fits here too. While it isn’t a massive list on offer, racing around some of the lesser known Brazilian tracks is a nice change from the usual but Reiza will also be adding to this in future so expect more well known international circuits down the line. 

Will I Like AMS2 / Should I Buy ?

AMS2 in its current state isn’t cheap and neither is its season pass (of which I haven’t purchased) but it’s also not priced beyond reason either. While there are still a lot of issues which need fixing and still countless new cars and tracks to come in future development, taking it out of Steam Early access was a stretch and arguably too soon but for those who don’t always need in built game modes or a popular multiplayer population, the joy you will feel when driving in this sim is second to none but beyond the well modelled cars and tracks of which some are laser scanned, plus the superb historic additions, you will need to make your own fun for the time being until you can find a league or multiplayer picks up abit. I should mention Sim Racing System is working with AMS2 so for those looking to get more value out of the title for now, should try it out and it will be something I will review at a later date.  

So for those who either have a group of friends who already enjoy the sim or want to, you will have a lot of fun sliding and racing together and you will really be taken back at just how good the FFB on the wheel is but as it still has a lot more to give, as development is continual, plus the unfinished state of the career mode and bugs still needing a fix,  if you are deciding between this and any other racing sim at the moment, Automobilista 2 will be a disappointment and very hard to recommend at all. Even knowing all these things, I’m not sure the driving and FFB alone will be enough for most sim drivers, since multiplayer is sparse and the AI still needs alot of work, you are left hot lapping alone. While it is arguably the best, there just isn’t enough polish on the rest of the sims features, which would wonderfully bring it all together. Reiza still have a long road ahead to really claim ASM2 is out of Early Access. 

I love AMS2 and what they have managed to do with the Madness engine, as it beats anything Slightly Mad studios did but Reiza have made some questionable decisions with the release cycle and it shows with the current state of the sim. The driving is great but it’s let down by being rushed to V1.0.0.0.