Project CARS 2 – A Forza To Be Reckoned With | Review and Trailer
What is it? A highly customisable, realistic Motorsports simulator that tries to find the middle ground between the accessibility of console gaming and the intricate details of PC racing simulators. You are able to select from a wide variety of very different motorsport disciplines and race through career seasons, solo events and multiplayer modes. Warning: Not for gamers looking for a casual race experience. – Reviewed on Playstation 4.
Verdict: It’s an unparalleled, realistic track experience for die-hard racer fans but still disappointingly clunky and unpolished in places.
Right off the bat, it has to be said that Project CARS 2 is a flawed game. Heck, I’d even go as far as to say that it is even a deeply flawed game that really needs quite a bit more spit and polish than most released titles should usually still require.
Here’s the thing though… I absolutely love it. Not only that, but it’s dynamic LiveTrack 3.0 feature is truly a game changer, but more on that later.
What interested me greatly was that when I went back to read my review of the first Project CARS, I was surprised at how much it felt like I could have just copied and pasted 90% of that review here and still have it be pretty darn accurate. So in many aspects, the game and its vision has stayed mostly the same, except for a few small changes that have had a really large effect on the experience.
Missing the Apex
On the bad side of things, the game can be buggy at times, I had to spend literal hours tweaking the controls to find a setup that worked well (I ultimately opted for a tilt steering setup on the PS4 controller that works really well), I was incredibly frustrated that once I was stuck in a career championship I couldn’t get out and some of the racing disciplines honestly felt almost impossible to control without a wheel of some sorts. Some of the worst issues also come from overly opportunistic, inconsistent and sometimes just on-rails AI / racing systems, meaning that it’s not quite as good a racing game as it could be, despite being a good driving game.
A Carjack of All Trades
Project CARS 2 requires commitment and isn’t suited for pop-in racing like Forza Motorsport, and that’s great because well… you can already play Forza Motorsport for that. Each championship season and race has me making full use of the 1 hour practise sessions to get me at the pace I needed to qualify and race. This means that each play session you have could be dedicated to just one or two race events, for one championship season, for just one discipline in a huge list of various Motorsport options. What I’m trying to say is that there’s a hell of a lot of racing game here.
You buy F1 games for F1, you buy rally games for rally, but with Project Cars 2 you’ve essentially bought yourself one game that could be used as a dedicated game for just GT Endurance Racing, Touring Cars, Kart racing, IndyCar, Historic racing, Rally Cross (new addition) and a bunch more… with the best part being that you get all of them in one. One of my favourite new additions too, which is something I’ve wanted in all my racing games for years and years now, is the ability to set your assists to “authentic”, which automatically sets assists based on the real life race series or technology.
The Main Event
So why is Project CARS 2 a game changer? It’s not just the way, way larger stable of (around 190 up from just 65) cars since the first game now also including big names like Ferrari and featuring everything from 1960s Grand Prix cars up to the latest McLaren road car. It’s not even because of an unbelievably great selection of around 60 varied tracks / 140 layouts (including historic tracks like old Hockenheim, Monza’s oval and the original Spa!) or even the fact that you can customise almost every single little part of this game to suit your play style/preferences. No, it’s because of the new dynamic LiveTrack 3.0 features that the marketing was continually going on about, and they weren’t overselling it either.
Not until Project CARS 2 have I ever truly experienced the side of Motorsport relating to track conditions, and the way it changes the experience is phenomenal. Tracks are slippery during practise and get progressively stickier over practise, qualifying and the races as cars lay down rubber. The dynamic weather plays a major role when you realise rain is starting to spit down so the lap you are on in qualifying is likely going to be your best chance before times start dropping in the wet.
Even more so, the way the track changes dynamically as the weather comes in is mesmerising, especially when it’s still raining and wet on one side of the track (I captured some video you can check out here), but a full dry line has formed on other corners despite realistic puddles from the storm still lingering around but slowly shrinking each lap. It’s just so damn cool and when you add the fact that tracks have full 24 hour cycles, tons of weather options (including snow) and even all four seasons, you realise that this is just a step above what everyone else has pulled off so far.
There’s a lot going on in Project CARS 2… some good some bad and while the cars still look great, the handling is fantastic and everything above makes for some really great moments, it’s a shame that despite its past success and bigger budget this time around, it’s still incredibly unpolished, unforgivably clunky in places and even buggy at times.
I have fallen in love with it despite its flaws because it offers me an experience that I can’t get anywhere else but it’s still got so many issues it needs to sort out before it moves away from feeling like a really great early access game, and truly moves into the same space as games like Forza Motorsport in terms of polish and quality.