In an instant, it became my most anticipated game of 2018. Kunos Simulazioni, developers of the brilliant Assetto Corsa, had bagged the rights to the Blancpain GT series - perhaps motorsport's healthiest championship, and certainly one that boasts the most diverse manufacturer participation with Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, BMW, Mercedes, Bentley, Audi and McLaren all taking part. Not a bad list, really, and the racing's more than half decent too.
Kunos Simulazioni is facing a bit of a conundrum.
Having first launched on PC in 2014, Assetto Corsa made its mark with a push for accurate car physics - a key selling point that sadly wrestles with the more CPU-restricted designs of PS4 and Xbox One. The logic here is clear: the more cars simulated on a circuit during a race, the bigger the hit to frame-rates on console. Your mileage may vary as a result of how you set your vehicle count, but it's disappointing to see the game veer so far away from its target 60fps - coupled with aggressive tearing - when set to anything between 10 and 16 cars.
We've been here before with the likes of Project Cars, of course. There we had another ambitious PS4 and Xbox One racing sim that struck 60fps quite happily with eight cars and less, but cranking that to 16 and above caused it sub-50fps levels of performance. In Assetto Corsa's case however, the consequences for pushing the car count up are actually more restrictive. Even with just 10 cars on the road we're faced with performance at the lower end of 45-60fps. Taken to its maximum 16 cars, this number drops to the 35-50fps region on both consoles. One difference between Assetto Corsa and Project Cars (and indeed the F1 titles, which also possess similar performance issues) is that both PS4 and Xbox One operate at 1080p resolution, though the Sony console's anti-aliasing solution is more effective on smoothing off the jagged edges.
This is also coupled with full-screen tearing. In some respects this is a benefit to the game's playability; on the one hand, yes, it sticks out like a sore thumb when turning a corner - lateral motion plus sharp contrasting edges tends to exacerbate the visibility of the tear-lines. But on the other, this artefact means each frame is output as closely to its 16.7ms render time as possible. Whether the frame is complete or not, it gives the player as much visual feedback as possible within each second of gameplay - a crucial component of any racing sim.
"We don't have a thousand cars, tracks or a career where you can collect cars." Marco Massarutto, co-founder of Assetto Corsa developer Kunos Simulazioni, knows he can't play the numbers game, especially now the lauded simulator is on the cusp of coming to a competitive console market. "[In Assetto Corsa] you don't collect cars. You drive cars."