Project CARS (PS4) review
It is time to jump into a realistic car, as Slight Mad Studios’ partly crowd funding racing sim, Project CARS, is now finally out. Project CARS is by no means Slight Mad Studios first venture into racing sim world as they developed the well received Need for Speed: Shift and Shift 2. With Slightly Mad Studios pedigree in mind and about $1 million worth of crowd funding (Slight Mad Studios allegedly contributed $2 million themselves) the company and its fans had a lot of expectations, and well the expectations were met as the company delivered one of the best racing simulations I can remember.
Project CARS greatest strength is its realist car handling as each car feels unique. The perfect example of this for me was when during the career mode I moved from driving a RWD P30 LMP1 to a Lotus 49 Cosworth. The difference between these two cars was staggering, while the RWD P30 was incredibly stable car where I knew how the car would react when I accelerated or braked, the Lotus 49 felt the exact opposite as the car would slip and slide with every input, when I accelerated and turned you could feel like you could lose control at any second, and for me I usually did. Now you might be thinking I went from a beginner’s car to an expert’s car, but no these were the first two cars the career mode gave me. Now while the above sentence may make it looks like I was a bit annoyed, and yes driving the Lotus 49 did drive me crazy, I loved it. Too many racing games make you feel like you are glued to the track and no matter what you do, the game won’t punish you, but in Project CARS if you miss time a breaking point it will punish you hard.
For those curious about what you can do in Project CARS there is mostly just the career mode and online multiplayer mode. Both these modes are the main attractions for the game as there is very little to do apart from them. Career mode is decent as it gives you an opportunity to try out nearly every car in the game via invitations – you receive these as you progress through career mode. With that said some of the invitational events have you drive cars that are next to impossible to drive (see the above mentioned Lotus 49). Career mode also has pseudo twitter interaction where you can read what “people” are saying about your performance, I personally never took much notice of it, but it is a nice background piece to make the career mode feel more lifelike.
The game’s other main mode is the online multiplayer. The multiplayer allows up to 16 people to compete against each other on whichever track, cars, race length, weather conditions the host decides. While the race is the main component of the multiplayer hosts can make players take part free practice and/or qualifying, this on paper a nice touch, but it is annoying for those who just want to go racing and don’t want to waste between 5 to 10 minutes competing for pole position. The multiplayer also seemed to have some connection problems with transitions from qualifying to race causing players to disconnect or at worst cause the game to crash (game crashing happened to me at least once).
While both the above mentioned modes are good, there isn’t anything else to do. There are the single race weekends, time trial and free practice modes, but personally I find no need for them as you can pretty much emulate them in the career or online modes. I would have also liked to have seen something like a training or skill mode to help teach players how to handle some of the difficult parts of the game i.e. car handling.
Whenever anyone talked about Project CARS before launch everyone seemed to mention how great the game looked. Well in all honestly the game looks beautiful. Everything in the game feels almost lifelike from car interiors (it’s like you can almost reach out and touch the leather in your car) to the setting of the sun. Actually speaking of the setting sun, Project CARS is probably the only racing game that has made me physically try to protect my eyes from a virtual setting sun. Speaking of the sun, the rain in Project CARS is equal parts fascinating and annoying. Just like the setting sun it feels like it is raining right in front of you as the rain begins wash down your visor or front screen (I’m the type of person who likes driving from the first person perspective), rain can also be annoying because if it starts raining in a race you are competing in you have to change your mindset, because the rain likes to catch you out and send you right into a gravel trap.
As I mentioned you can play the game from the first person perspective (interior), but there six other camera angles where you can choose from various interior angles to the traditional third person perspective. Let’s be honest having seven camera angles is something that should be expected from a racing game, but the game just doesn’t allow you to choose from numerous camera positions, it allows you to edit your entire UI.
Yes, in Project CARS you have the ability to the UI as clear or as cluttered as you want. If you want a UI that gives you in-depth information such as the temperature of each tire, the amount of Gs you are pulling, and more you can have it, or if you are a minimalist you can completely remove the UI or leave it in its basic form, which is a lap/time indicator, map, speedometer, rear-view mirror, and a lap time tracker. Now, here is another interesting part when it comes to UI modification, you can move the elements of the UI around the screen. For example if want the map on the bottom-left and the lap/time indicator on the top-left, no problem as the game lets you do this.
If messing with the UI wasn’t enough fun there is also photo mode. This mode allows you to pause the game and take a lovely screenshot of your car in action, or in my case take a photo of me doing donuts in a Formula A car. The photo mode has various options such as filters, changing depth of field, field of view, and more.
While I am talking mostly about the game’s good points, let’s talk about one of its weaker parts i.e. computer AI. Firstly I found it very difficult to be challenged by the computer, it took me putting the AI difficulty up to 70/100 to actually be challenged for first place, and I am a person who rarely plays racing games, so I can only imagine how easy it must be for veterans of the racing genre. Apart from the AI being easier than I expected, AI opponents like to do some weird manoeuvres, now I’m guessing the AI drivers were supposed to be like real drivers, so they are bound to make mistakes, and that is clear to see with some cars missing breaking points, but I found that on a number occasions the AI drivers like to crash into you and force you off track and get you penalised for it.
Speaking of penalties and crashes, the game likes to hand out penalties like they are Halloween candy, if you put one or two wheels off track your time is excluded or if a person crashes into you, which causes you to crash you are penalised and your time is excluded. Now having times excluded may not seem like a big thing, but when this happens during qualifying it annoyed me to no end, especially when racing bodies such as the FIA say a time should only be excluded if all four wheels go off the track. Yes, this isn’t a major issue, but it has caused me a ton of frustration.
Now there are crashes, and some of them can be quite hilarious, for example just before sitting down to write this review I decided to give the multiplayer one last go, and during the race a car literally flew backwards into me (I’m pretty sure it was a bug and not a crash), it was an hilarious moment that reminded me of an issue I experience in a preview version of this game. Apart from having a car throw at my car a good chunk of the crashes were very boring, they were basic taps into spins or a person rear ending your car at the start of a race.
While Project CARS has a decent career mode and multiplayer mode the game doesn’t offer players anything else. I found myself only playing the game for one to two hours sessions as I found myself getting bored after a few career mode races and/or two-three online races. This lack of replay value might just be a personal thing as I am not a major racing fan (only really follow Formula One in real life)
If you are a motor sport fan and are looking for the closest experience to real life motor sport than look no further than Project CARS. Project CARS offers an amazingly realistic car handling and weather, but the game falls short in replay value and computer AI.
+ Car handling
+ Official race tracks/cars/competitions
+ Career mode/multiplayer
+ Customise UI
– Computer AI
– Penalties/car crashes
– Replay value
|Slightly Mad Studios||Bandai Namco Entertainment||racing||3+||PS4, XBOne, PC||April 2nd, 2015|
For more information on Project CARS, visit http://www.projectcarsgame.com/.
Author: Aaron Meehan
Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.