Assetto Corsa Mobile review

Assetto Corsa’s mobile version is available from August 31st for iPad and iPhone devices. Here is my written review of AC Mobile below and the gameplay video above.

Mobile gaming is a market developers and publishers can no longer ignore. The phone and tablet game market account for roughly half of the worldwide gaming economy and is expected to pass $100 billion dollars in 2023. So, racing simulators being ported over to mobile devices has become a matter of when, not if.

505 Games has answered the call in partnership with Digital Tales to bring Assetto Corsa to iOS users. There are no definitive plans to bring AC Mobile to Android devices. The game is based on the original Assetto Corsa, and brings players 59 car options, 9 tracks and 6 game modes. The game also allows racing in the daytime or at sunset, and in both dry and wet conditions.

While no one should expect the level of graphics on mobile that PC players have been granted, which blur the line between game and reality when using graphics mods, AC Mobile doesn’t look especially nice even by mobile standards.

The graphics appear grainy in most circumstances, and the use of light during various times of day seems outdated compared to other mobile titles like F1 and GRID. The focus of AC Mobile is on the driving experience rather than the visuals, but in the era of sharing screenshots and videos from our favourite titles, it’s surprising to see a title look this dated.

The sounds in AC Mobile are probably the last consideration for most racing game enthusiasts. Most players will be using the iPhone or iPad’s onboard speaker or a set of earbuds rather than an elaborate 5.1 setup or higher-end gaming headset like we might use to enjoy AC on PC or console. But for those who do care, the sounds are nicely done.

Engine notes vary from greatly from car to car, and seem to be fair recreations of the car sounds in the main AC title. The tire squeals and curb rumbles are also well done, but all of these sounds are muffled somewhat by the in-game music which is set to full volume by default. Again, the sounds are probably close to the last consideration for someone considering owning this game, but for what it’s worth they seem apt recreations of what was given to us in the original Assetto Corsa game.

Assetto Corsa Mobile 03.jpg

Career Mode
The focus of Assetto Corsa’s mobile version is the career mode, which is a departure from what the seemingly timeless PC version has become. Whereas AC users on PC utilize the sim as an almost limitless sandbox for driving any car and track from any era, the mobile version encourages players to unlock content and advance their in-game career by winning a series of challenges. There is no multi-player mode.

Completing a challenge earns you XP and money. The XP improves your level when certain levels are met and leveling up unlocks content. The money you earn from the challenges goes toward newer and faster cars and upgrades to cars you already own. Meeting the criteria for gold, silver or bronze in each challenge earns you a corresponding trophy, which counts toward unlocking further challenges.

It’s not a revolutionary career mode, but definitely one long and challenging enough to keep racers busy for many hours. The inclusion of generic upgrades certainly goes against the notion that this is a hardcore sim, but thankfully the upgrades are minor and not dissimilar in impact to an improved setup. I found myself putting more hours into the career mode than I thought I would, and I had a great time pushing myself to reach the next level and unlocking more challenges. The limited track selection does become more apparent as you progress, but there's still plenty of fun to be had.

Driving Experience and Physics
When it comes to the actual driving experience in Assetto Corsa Mobile, there are things I like and things I don’t. Let’s start with what I like. The cars pitch and roll nicely under throttle, braking and steering forces. This is something not present in most mobile games and does reinforce ACM being more sim than game. Crashing into other cars on the track is something that can’t be done with complete impunity, despite the absence of a damage model. Bumping into other cars is likely to spin your vehicle and force you to regain control over grass or sand in a runoff area. While racing, smooth driving lines are rewarded with time gains, unlike some rival titles that permit you to bounce your car off walls and retain speed through a corner. So, there are elements that could impress the sim racing community, but unfortunately, it’s not all good.

The list of what I don’t like about the driving experience is shorter, but not insignificant. In fact, I suspect some of the handling bugs could ruin the experience in ACM for some players. Among the most noticeable bugs are the speed wobble and the tiny braking distances. The speed wobble causes the car to violently swing left and right at high speeds. This happens to both the player’s car and to AI cars. In some cases, it’ll calm down and allow you to keep driving, while in other cases it causes you to spin or run off track. On the braking front, even with assists turned off you’ll be able to out-brake your AI opponents significantly. The AI braking distances seem about what you could expect in a sim, but you can brake much later, which often results in you advancing from last place to top three into the first corner of a race.

Assetto Corsa Mobile 01.jpg

And there is one consideration that underpins all the above. As good as the underlying physics might be, you’re tasked with appreciated them by pushing your thumbs into a screen and tilting phone, ultimately. Unlike a proper sim racing rig, which even at a low budget level allows you to be precise with throttle and brake inputs down to thousandths of an inch, and to correct your steering in partial degrees of rotation, using an iPad or iPhone is a very constrained way to sim race. This manifests in game with frequent over-rotation of the car in normal cornering conditions. And while the over-rotation effect and the appreciation of the physics is made easier with a controller, ACM’s control interface is still very biased toward a less precise input method.

There are two important footnotes to my review of the handling. First, I’d advise you to race with a controller if you can. Racing while tilting the screen or selecting one of the control methods that allows touchscreen steering is potentially enjoyable, but I had far more success in winning challenges with my controller. Second, turn off all in-game assists. Even low levels of assists in ACM can have a major impact on the feel and handling characteristics of the car. The driving is at its best in its purest form.

Assetto Corsa Mobile 02.jpg

Assetto Corsa Mobile doesn’t capture the magic of the original AC title that continues to grow in popularity seven years after release. With no mods, no pit stops, no fuel, and no setups, many key simulation elements are missing.

This isn’t to say that AC Mobile has no audience with sim racers, however. For less than the price of most paid car mods for AC on PC, you can have access to a title that could very well provide you with hours of entertainment on planes, trains, or while hiding away at a boring party. ACM can be fun, and the challenging career mode is going to take many hours to complete. While some have dismissed ACM as a cash-grab for the developers, it warrants mention that there are no microtransactions, so at least this game doesn’t get into the toxic realm of pay-to-win.

The choice to name it after such a well-loved racing sim is questionable. While it makes sense from a marketing perspective, fans of Assetto Corsa will need to disassociate AC Mobile from the racing sim juggernaut that Assetto Corsa has grown to become on PC.

For €3.99, this is a fun way to dip your toes into the racing sim world when you can’t be at your rig. 505 Games and Digital Tales weren't able to reproduce the magic that pulled most of us into Assetto Corsa on PC, but they were at least able to give us a fun, sim-like experience with a lengthy career mode in our pockets.

The Good
  • Assetto Corsa available wherever you go
  • Many car characteristics are nicely recreated
  • Large car selection
  • No microtransactions
The Bad
  • Limited control options mask the sim physics
  • Some challengess are extremely difficult using tilt steering
  • Without mods, Assetto Corsa feels dated
  • Limited track selection
  • No relative timing in the HUD
  • Earning credits to apply generic upgrades feels more game than sim
Did you know you can add your own review here at RaceDepartment? Click the "Submit your review" button below this article and add your own thoughts on Assetto Corsa Mobile after it's released on August 31st.
About author
Mike Smith
I have been obsessed with sim racing and racing games since the 1980's. My first taste of live auto racing was in 1988, and I couldn't get enough ever since. Lead writer for RaceDepartment, and owner of SimRacing604 and its YouTube channel. Favourite sims include Assetto Corsa Competizione, Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Automobilista 2, DiRT Rally 2 - On Twitter as @simracing604

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Who are they REALLY trying to reel in with this?

Anyone who wants to get into sim racing is gonna go with a console or PC release, not a mobile one. This whole move seems confusing to me.
Who are they REALLY trying to reel in with this?

Anyone who wants to get into sim racing is gonna go with a console or PC release, not a mobile one. This whole move seems confusing to me.
Don't forget about developing countries, mobile gaming market is massive and it makes sense for a good quality sim/racing game to hit the market.

However, I don't think AC Mobile is the game to fulfill this area of the market.
I think AC and whole simracing is killing (or already killed) arcade, just to take its place. It worked amazingly well. It is not necessarily good for simulation, for what it essentially is, or is soon to be said - used to be.
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There are games that are perfectly suited to mobile platforms, and there are games that IMO are not, and this is one of them that in my experience simply will not work well on mobile given the type of gameplay involved.

I play FTL, Mini Metro and First Strike on my commute and they work beautifully within a touch screen environment.

I've tried other racing/flight sims on mobile and while they can work the result is often far less than satisfactory and not really lending themselves to what mobile gaming is about.

I won't be buying it.

Don't blame Kunos for this - the only thing they're responsible for is the Assetto Corsa brand - they develop purely for PC. It's 505 Games who are milking the AC brand and farming alternative platform development out to "shadow" studios.

I'll bet everybody at Kunos did a synchronous Picard and Riker double facepalm when they heard about this.
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"Mobile gaming is a market developers and publishers can no longer ignore."

"There are no definitive plans to bring AC Mobile to Android devices."

We can't ignore the market, so we'll just ignore the OS with the largest market share. :roflmao:
There is a LOT of mobile racing games and if Studio 505 wants AC Mobile to have the expected success, they must bring something new to the table that is suitable for the mobile gaming market.

AC is going to compete against a very well-established Real Racing 3 -not to mention the popular arcade racing games available for smartphones- and at least on the graphical side, 505 still has a long way to go.

It is going to be hard to compete against these games and honestly, I do not believe that being a SIM will help AC that much, after all, we are talking about mobile market.
I think before they started this, they should have asked themselves 'RR3 is already well established in the mobile world, Asphalt is pretty popular too. Can we do better?'

When they realised the answer was no, that's where AC Mobile should have stopped. It looks like an absolutely terrible port of the base Assetto, and that was never going to compete with a decently made, mobile-from-scratch and mature game like RR3.
To me it's rather simple: many many people bought AC, and they all have a mobile phone, so why not playing AC during your commute or in the restroom? Honestly, it's a bit meh, but who knows I may buy it just because.
I had quite some pleasant times on the iPad 2 with RealRacing long ago.
Later on gave RR3 it a try on my recent iPad pro.
Was stunned how well it looked and ran with stable FPS (retina screens have a higher resolution as most regular monitors).
But now what I have seen from AC, it looks worse than RealRacing did almost 10 years ago.
It looks as they took all the details out and have no proper shadows, reflections or anti aliasing at all.
They still want to run this game on an iPhone 3 or 4?
The studio responsible for producing this should have done a better job.
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How pointless and stupid. I really hope they make a lot of money on this, so it helps them develop actual real sims. But I doubt it. People in developing countries ain't gonna bother with this garbage. But we'll see.

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Mike Smith
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