Project CARS – Review
Follow Genre: Racing-simulator
Developer: Slightly Mad Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Tested on: PC

Project CARS – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Looks great, beautiful varied tracks, tons of options to tweak, the racing-experience is very immersing
Bad: Feels like some cars are missing from the game, career mode misses the mark, daunting to newcomers in the genre, steep learning curve
User Score
8.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Community Assisted Racing Simulator is what the abbreviation CARS stands for in Project CARS. Its developer, Slightly Mad Studios, was able to raise funding for the game all by itself without working with a traditional publisher. Crowd-funding was a big part of that as interested players were able to buy a “tool pack” which offered them access to the forums where they could talk directly to the development team but alse granted access to preview builds and other exclusive features depending on which pack they choose. The game was delayed a few times but is now finally here, is it worthy of carrying the “racing simulator” title?

ProjectCARS-Official-Logo-Large_flat

Story

As in most realistic racing games, Project CARS doesn’t really offer a story. There is however a career mode where you can choose the name of your driver. Then you pick a league to start ranging from cart racing to high-end prototype racing. After choosing a league you get a couple of offers from teams and after choosing the one, the season sets off. The way a racing weekend is set up depends on the league you’re in, in some it’ll be a simple race where in others it’ll be a full-fledged grand prix weekend including practice sections and qualifications. The game tries to give you the feeling of being a modern race driver by showing a social media feed which adapts to the way you performed the previous race. There’s also an email system in which you get contacted by your team to congratulate you or slap your wrist. A good attempt but these features fail to really get you into the racing vibe, luckily the racing itself does just that but more on that later. After completing a season you can advance through the leagues and you’ll get offers for new teams and will be driving different cars.

ProjectCARS_Screen2

 

Graphics

It’s quite easy to say that Project CARS is one of the best looking games out there right now. While some other racing simulators offer better graphical effects on certain fronts, none of them offer the complete package of visual goodness that this title does. There are a ton of options to allow you to tweak this game exactly to your liking. It also runs fine on older cards when tuning down on the settings. The cars all look extremely detailed and so do the tracks. They do so to an extent where you’d stop and wonder about how small the gap is these days between a game and actual high-res filmed footage.

Sound

There is no denying, the cars in Project CARS quite simply sound awesome. Every car has its own distinct sound and sounds immensely satisfying. From time to time, I found myself just keeping the car in neutral and revving the engine. No big Hollywood-style soundtrack when starting the game though. Also the menus only have a subtle simple background track and during the race there isn’t any exciting music to keep you on your toes. Not to worry though, there’s enough in Project CARS to keep you thrilled already.

ProjectCARS_Screen1

Gameplay

Let’s get into the actual racing because that is after all what this game is about. You can do so using a mouse and keyboard, controller or any sort of wheel/pedal/shifter setup. A bunch of control schemes are already available to you in the game and you can also create a custom one or alter one of the existing ones. It’s not recommended to use the keyboard though, while it’s possible it just doesn’t give the same experience as the other options do. Playing with a controller felt fine but you’ll be smart to turn the assists on (we’ll get into them in a minute) because in full simulation mode, the controller also doesn’t offer the amount of control you’ll need. A true racing-simulator-fan will of course use some sort of wheel/pedal/shifter setup. To further alter the experience, there are tons of force feedback options in which you can really fine-tune your wheel like: how much the shift of lateral G-forces affects your wheel, the steering weight difference between standing still and moving at a certain speed, crashes, … These are just a few examples of how detailed the options are and you can spend hours getting the options just right. Then you can save your set-up for that specific car and even for that specific track. If you want you can spend days getting everything set just right.

Besides controls, there are a bunch of other things you can also tweak. Everything you would want to change about a car’s setup can actually be altered: from differential tweaking to tire-pressure and suspension. Again you can spend hours just getting everything the way you want it to be. The tuning of your car is saved together with the force-feedback settings we talked about earlier. While driving you can also choose a camera point-of-view, all classic POV’s are there but there’s also an interesting helmet cam where you really feel like your inside the head of the driver. Everything about the view can also be tweaked in the options. A cool feature here is that when looking in front of you, the focus is automatically put on the road but when looking down a bit, the focus gets set on the gauges of the car. The latter was hands-down my favourite way of playing the game as it does feel quite natural.

ProjectCARS_Screen3

So you’ve set the controls, tuned the car and got the view set just how you want it, now you’re ready to race and there are a couple of ways to go about that. We talked about the career mode earlier, there’s also a practice mode in which you can race any car on any track you choice, a single racing event and an online mode. In the online mode you can do everything you do can do in the offline modes: join a racing weekend with set rules on realism and assists or just hop in with a few people and do a quick race. No-doubt that full-fledged racing leagues driven by the community will soon also arise. A problem I have with the game is that the offline modes, especially the career, don’t really offer you that experience you would expect it to give. Never I felt like I was living the life of a race driver and it was up to myself to give any sort of meaning to the sponsorships and team offers I was given. All these extra features in the career mode feel more cosmetic than anything else.

Conclusion

The question if Project CARS is truly a racing simulator is up for debate but to me it is. You can spend days just messing with options which is great for people who like to do that but daunting to others who don’t like to mess with them. Project CARS is a must-buy for experienced racing simulator fans. Newcomers of the genre should be willing to get through the steep learning curve. Also if you’re planning on playing this game, you should buy a wheel to get the full experience.

ProjectCARS_Screen4

 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Project CARS - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Veflow
Veflow


I'm currently studying software-development. My main hobbies are gaming (software/hardware) and music (jazz saxophone player). I game primarily on PC (and also love building them) but also play on PS3, iOS and Android.

1 Comment

  1. […] been just over a year since Project CARS came into existence. It proved to be a fun racing experience for both veterans and new players, […]

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