The first thing that I’m going to say about this game is that it’s a simulation, and I thank it so very much for that. Most racing simulation games today try to simulate the career of a race car driver, and while Project CARS also does this, it does it without ever having to unlock anything. You can be thrown in at the deep end, or stay in shallow waters, it’s up to you. Personally, I started my driver’s career at the beginning of the Grand Touring series.
Diving deeper into the single player you’ll find a world of tweaking. You’ll need to be able to adapt your vehicle to the conditions of the track on race day in order to secure your victory. This is where my first gripe comes in. I feel that for many news players, this tweaking system can be very overwhelming. It’s vast and complex, with no guide to help you through the different stages. If you want to learn how to do it, your going to have to check the internet for help, and that’s a shame, because the game does such a good job of talking you through every other part expect this one, which is possibly the most crucial.
Let’s move onto the track themselves. In my fourteen hours of Project CARS I never once felt that the track were ever lacking in detail. The game is visually stunning and the lighting effect blew me away. The sun glare and the rain all add to the difficulty of trying to win the race, which is possibly tough enough already. But don’t fear, if you feel that the AI are too hard, then Project CARS has you covered, touting an adaptive AI system that will allow you to tweak the difficulty of the AI to a very small percentage, rather that the standard easy, medium or hard.
The game features four modes. Solo race and Online mode give you a sandbox to play with. They allow you to have a any combination of tack, cars, weather settings and restrictions to allow you to create your perfect race. However don’t expect this to be an arcade racer, you won’t find that here. It’s a true simulator at heart and this can be seen throughout it’s mechanics and game features.
The third mode is Career which we already touched upon before. You pick where you want to start, which can be anywhere from karting to the top notch super cars, and you just race. There is n story, there is no accumulation of super cars. Everything has already been given to you. Project CARS gives you this Sandbox experience which is very new to the racing world and a nice change to the regular arcade racers.
The last mode is Driver Network and this is where you really need to understand the game, not just be able to beat it. Project CARS gives you all the tools you need to learn it’s mechanics and to then understand how they work so you can bring that knowledge into the Driver Network in order to tweak and adapt your car so that you can beat your competitors in the time trial. This means that it may be frustrating to new players, but relax, take a break and go back into the Career mode to learn more about the game as I did.
Project CARS might take some getting used to overall. I was coming from racing games that have been clones of previous ones or simply don’t provide that great experience that I’ve been looking for. This meant that when Project CARS finally landed in my library It took a couple of frustrating hours to get used to the new driving style and this meant that I ended up playing it like a standard arcade racer. Drive, crash, restart and repeat. So it wasn’t until after this period that I realised how good this game really was and how complex all of the mechanics were. The best advice that I can give to you if you want to win at Project CARS is to do as many pre-race qualification laps as humanly possible, every advantage helps in this game and Slightly Mad Studios have handed you an advantage on a silver platter.
Playing the game in the right way, by tweaking and adjusting finally rewarded me with some epic races and tussles between places on the podium. Then everything was ruined as the heavens opened and the rain came down. Everything that I had spent that last ten minutes working and tweaking for was ruined and the environment change to another extreme. But of course I had missed one crucial thing before the race. The little weather icon at the top of the screen which had probably told me that it was going to rain and from that moment forward that was the most important icon in my playing of the game.
Buggy AI within the game dampened my experience of the game. The level at which you set the AI seemed to be very inconsistent with some alterations appearing small but having a huge impact in the game. Additionally I experienced that annoying bug that would switch you from first to last place randomly which I can assure you is not helpful when trying to win a race.
Finally moving onto the Online mode. This is where you are going to have the most fun with Project CARS as it removes the buggy AI which I just mentioned and replaces it with actual players who either have equal, less or greater knowledge of the game than you. Which means that you really have to up your game if you want to win. It isn’t one of those Online modes where people are going to try and run you off the tack, no no, those people stayed with Grid 2. Instead, Project CARS has a different etiquette of drivers that has changed for the better. Every tweak that you make and every practice lap that you do will all come together to either make or break the race, and that is something that I love about this game.
Overall Project CARS is at it’s best in the multiplayer. In Career you don’t accumulate anything, no money or cars. The buggy AI and race changing bug may ruin your day, however they can be altered by patched from the developer. Project CARS offers fast paced high stakes action and that is something that I haven’t seen in this genre for a long time.