Project CARS Is A Lot Of Fun

Project CARS Is A Lot Of Fun

I was going to review Project CARS. Ten minutes into staring at the car setup screen, googling terms that I — even as a guy with a casual interest in cars — had never heard of, I thought maybe that wasn't the best idea.

Instead, then, here are some thoughts on Project CARS.

It's a pretty video game. You knew that from all those early screenshots and video, because those were taken by backers and testers rather than marketing teams, but still. Even when you're prepared for it, you're not ready for how gorgeous project CARS is. The thing is, it's not the cars themselves that do it. They're nice, and clean, and full of detail, but it's the lighting that pushes this game over the edge. As you'll see in the gameplay video I put together (above), it's when the sun is setting, or lights shine in the night sky, or you're driving through the middle of a thunderstorm, that sometimes you just want to pull over for a second and think "wow".

Can you remember the last major, serious driving game that wasn't a console exclusive? I can't. I think that's both absurd and welcome, because hopefully loads more people will be playing and talking about this game in the long-run than any Forza or GT game could hope to, especially since it's also on PC.

Project CARS Is A Lot Of Fun

I'm downright intimidated by the hardcore end of this game. I mean, look at this. Or this.

Project CARS Is A Lot Of Fun

I'm sure someone out there, somewhere understands what all this means, but as a guy who just likes to drive pretty cars around a track quite quickly, I was like "um haha nope, default settings are fine, thanks". If that someone out there is you, though, this looks awesome!

The car roster is somehow both liberating and disappointing at the same time. Liberating in that everything's unlocked from the minute you start the game, so you can jump behind the wheel of everything from a Mitsubishi Lancer to an F1 car. But disappointing in that it's a pretty small roster (around 70-80 cars, depending on which version of the game you bought), at least compared to competitors like GT who have hundreds of cars.

The "feel" of the game strikes a really good balance. It's tough, and definitely feels like an accurate representation of driving a car really really fast, but through sound and visual effects (especially with certain in-car perspectives) it still manages to maintain a sense of rush. The accuracy of Gran Turismo meets the fun of Project Gotham, if you will.

The AI is unpredictable, which means the AI is great. Some competitors will just float around a track oblivious to you even being there, while others will violently cut across the track to block a pass attempt. I also saw a few times where the AI got bunched up, a few crashes occurred, and the rest of the pack slowed down and avoided it all, which was pretty impressive.

It's a lot of fun to just boot it up and start driving. Where other games have centrepiece modes, campaigns or events the entire game is clearly built around, Project CARS doesn't really give a shit what you drive, so long as you drive. I've played some of the career mode, which is a pretty standard career mode, but I've found that it's easier and more fun in Project CARS to just jump into a race, or even create an event, messing with the time and weather, picking the cars and just going at it. It's just so quick and easy to craft all that stuff on the fly.

Project CARS is a very serious driving sim, with brutal handling (especially in the wet), but don't let that put you off. The game defaults to a pretty generous suite of settings, from brake assist to a racing line guide, and these can be progressively turned on or off as you get more experienced. God help you in the rain, though.

Project CARS Is A Lot Of Fun

The karts in this game are awesome. You can just wrench them around the track, slamming on the brakes, smashing the accelerator, and they will do whatever you want. Drop a whole bunch of them on a more serious track and you've got a very good time.

Serious drivers, if you don't already have a wheel, you might want to look into it. I got through most races and cars just fine with a controller, but trying to control a really high-end car in anything other than perfect weather conditions was a nightmare. A thumbstick was just too twitchy.

I haven't seen much mention of this in reviews, but the sound — at least on the PC version I played — was incredible. Go into a tunnel and the reverb is perfect, as is the whooshing sound of driving an F1 car in the rain. Play with good headphones if you've got them.

So, yeah! I played Project CARS for around a week on PC, and had a blast.


Comments

    Steam is downloading as we speak, set up my wheel last night. Cant wait to get home !!

    (insert excited scream here)

    On PC maybe, on Xbox One it's bugs galore and not much fun at all.

    Played for a couple of hours last night with a G27 wheel I borrowed from a friend.
    Good fun, multiplayer is great!

    A few issues though - tyre screeching sounds need to be louder (can hardly hear them at all at the moment) and the force feedback needs to be more powerful. Can't feel much when going over the rumble strips.

    I'd like to see a game like this (hyper-realistic driving, handling and visuals) in more of a mundane simulator environment. Driving on roads with traffic, having to obey laws, that sort of thing. Could be used as a simulation/teaching tool (tech defensive driving, for example), or just be a cool way to try out cars in more real / mundane situations.

      you had to do that in Mafia II, in between wonton slaughter and assassinations, the NPCs would always yell at you for running a red light...

    Anyone heard how the PS4 version is going? One of my mates told me the Xbone was a bit under done and had some bugs.

      I've played through the Kart championship and messed around in free mode for an hour or two as well and it is running smoothly, Looks great, no screen tearing or frame drops. All good on the PS4 front

    Can you remember the last major, serious driving game that wasn’t a console exclusive?

    lolwut

      To be fair the best “general racing sims” (ie. Forza and GT once upon a time when GT was a well managed thing) are console exclusives.

      I personally don’t mind which one ends up best, I’d just like one of them to be definitively better than the others.

      Asset Corsa
      iRacing
      Rfactor 2'

      btw, GT is not realistic

    They don't seem top be doing any serious damage modelling, but given how terrible a driver I am, I can only see that as a good thing.

    Maybe it's an option...

      There's pretty in depth damage, but you can tone it down from engine blowing up due to a bad downshift to cosmetic only

    No car damage?

      There is. Probably the best car damage I've seen in a racing game.

      The settings allow everything from no damage, cosmetic damage only all the way to engine faults, tyre and fuel usage as realistic as possible,

    Bought it off the US Xbox Live Store on Wednesday night to save a few bucks.

    Pre-order version got pulled from the Aussie Store on Thursday when the game launched.
    Can’t get download the full game off the Aussie store because I don’t own it, only a pre-order and those are locked.

    Game doesn’t come out in the US until next Wednesday.

    FAIL.

      Can't you and Mr. Murdoch take it up with Microsoft's legal department? Or have you-know-who beat the shit out of Balmer in his clippers pyjamas or whatever?

    I'm not sure I'd call Forza or GT a serious driving game anymore...

    Last edited 08/05/15 5:39 pm

    I find the game brutal, this isn't Forza where you make a mistake and hit rewind. If you come off the track just a little your lap time is invalid. Even with steering and brake assist on, you still need to be more precise then Forza asked for, and with it off you need to be pin point accurate with your breaking and turns.

    Not sure if it was just inexperience but I found that the Karts are a pain in the arse, the turning circle is horrible. I haven't been able to control a Kart enough to finish off a lap to progress my career. Maybe I am missing something, or it is a bug, or it is just my lack of experience but I got frustrated trying and haven't tried since.

    The car line up is small and will hopefully grow, I think with only 70 cars it should have been an unlock as you progress mode, I think 100 cars would be sufficient. I know Forza and GT have hundreds but how many people actually bu or use every single one. They need to add a few more cars but not get to the point that your driving a goggo mobile just because they can put it in. I would have to say this is one of the most serious racing games I have seen in a long time.

      The karts are a special circumstance, I too started with them and they are probably not the best way to jump into the game. They act like go karts though, notoriously bad under braking and quick to wheel spin if you accelerate too fast while turning. I found myself having to restart the races a couple of times but as I went I got used to the feel. The thing about this game vs Forza is that the car all react in realistic and as such unpredictable ways for each and every car in the game and then add the tracks, road surfaces and weather into it and the game will take some getting used to with all the realistic elements in play.

      I played one race in the karts where I ran wide on a corner and hit the 'rubble' left from all the tyres on the side of the track and my kart lost grip.

      The game will take some getting used to, but I think the challenge is there for a reason and winning and getting good lap times feels much more satisfying because of it.

        I tried again and finding a bit easier each time, I don't think anyone would play this game for just a quick lap in a nice car, I can see myself getting frustrated at my own stupidity and impatience while playing this.

          Agreed, Turned it on a few times over the weekend for a quick race and it just wasn't all that enjoyable. Lucky they let you choose any track or car in practice / free mode.

          The carts are hard to steer but you get used to it quickly, Plenty of settings to adjust maybe dial down the sensitivity on your braking and steering if you are having issues.

    I really wanted this game with the Rift, or maybe the Vive now. But heck, I'll just get it anyway.

    Are all you guys who are saying how great it is playing with wheels? I found the game is basically broken out of the bed of you are only using a controller on PS4. On the breaks at 100 km/h and turning slightly only to immediately spin out is not realistic. Feels like they made the stock settings so biased towards a wheel and with no explanation as to what the control tweaking settings actually do or mean it is just a terrible game to play using a controller when you want to play without the assists. A simple "best settings for controllers" option would have been easy to put in and really should be when you consider that a controller is what the ps4 and xbone are actually sold with. Game is getting returned today. Might get it out of a discount bin once things like this and the multiple bugs are fixed. Very disappointing because as a big fan of racing games (I bought an Xbox 360 just for forza) I was so excited about this but it has just simply failed.

    As someone who initially chose the Professional setting, I can not for the life of me find out how to enable driver assists in the options... I'm stuck with no ABS, no traction control and manual transmission... While driving manual is fine, some of those cars I can't even make the first corner without some driver assists...

      Is this still an issue for you? I'll be home in a couple of hours, I saw these settings before so I can wall you through finding them.

        I managed to find the settings when I was messing around with wheel calibration. I swear those settings weren't there when I checked last haha

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