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Project CARS
Project CARS

Nintendo Wii U | PC | PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Developer: Slightly Mad Studios Official Site: http://www.projectcarsgame.c...
Publisher: Classification: PG
Release Date:
19th March 2015
Project CARS Review
Review By @ 03:31pm 07/05/15
The weird thing Project CARS does is give you everything and let you do with it what you will. Right from the get go, every track, every car, every setting is available for you to play with. You don't start in a beat-up shitbox or drag your way through tedious license exams, you don't even have to buy a car to find yourself driving it.

It's weird because for years console simulation racers have forced us down progression paths, locking off content to force us to experience everything and earn our time in better cars. And Project CARS isn't like that.

Check out this accompanying video review Joab did, featuring the game running in 1080p at 60fps

At first, it's ultra jarring, creating this sense of incompleteness to the entire affair. I started my career mode in 125cc Karts because they were the least powerful, and I've been so acutely trained by... well, at this point every game, not just racing games... that I gravitated to starting off in the lower ranks.

Which is interesting for two reasons -- first, the game does offer players a progression system of sorts even if it doesn't lock content behind it, and that system requires players to start in Karts and make it all the way up to Le Mans Prototypes inside of five "seasons". So I had started at the correct place if I planned on earning some trophies (which I never do). The other reason it's interesting is because it is probably the flat-out worst place to start your career in Project CARS.

PCARS works very, very hard to accurately simulate the handling profiles of all of its vehicles. And as anyone who has been to a weekend long bucks party knows, Karts don't handle like cars. So starting in Karts taught me oodles of terrible habits regarding the game's control model. After moving beyond the Karts (both 125cc and 250cc) I found myself braking later, taking much tighter racing lines and generally racing poorly for a dozen races afterwards.

I think it's actually a testament to the game's accuracy, if anything -- it's rare that you feel such a distinct shift in handling without there being an environmental change to accompany it.

Speaking of environmental changes, PCARS features dozens of tracks from around the world, both real and fictional interpretations of exotic locations. There are traditional circuit races around everything from the Nurburgring, through Bathurst, Laguna Seca, Spa and including the nightmare that is Brand's Hatch. There are two point-to-point locations, the Californian Highway and the Azure Coast, a stretch of gorgeous road along the French Riviera. There are tracks surrounded by trees, by desert, by mountains. Open tracks where your only punishment for making a mistake is a brief sojourn through a sand-trap, and tight, closed tracks where carelessness will see you bouncing off walls like the little ball in Breakout.

And then there's the weather effects. PCARS allows you to stuff around with weather with ease -- you can apply multiple different weather effects to a race, in any manner you choose. You can start a race with light fog, have it progress into heavy rain and then end everything clear, blue, sunny skies if you are so inclined. Or, if you're crazy, you can set all weather options to random and see what happens.

There are a few gameplay... goofs in PCARS. The distinction between on and off the track is extremely inconsistent, which is annoying when attempting to set a hot lap qualifying time. Many penalising features seem to be buggy, in fact. I've been given a false start penalty which put me immediately in last place (I was at the front of the pack for my false start and the game decided I was in fact an entire lap behind). I've been penalised for other car's contact as well, and the AI's awareness of your presence seems to vary from race to race.

Actually the AI isn't very consistent at all. No game exists in a vacuum, and while Forza 5 isn't a simulator even close to this degree of accuracy, it does sit in the same general category of game. The reality is that Drivatar has forever changed how I feel about AI in racing games, and PCARS cannot compete with its more traditional style of driver AI. That said, when it's good, PCARS AI fights for position, takes chances and pushes you to your limits as a driver. When it's not, however, it varies between robotic and idiotic, and that's a shame.

The UI of the game isn't amazing either, utilising a pages system which isn't clearly earmarked. If you want to screw around with weather options in-game you need to tab across in the race options page, which is odd when the first page is so under-utilised. It's never more maddening than in the career mode, where the UI resembles Football Manager screens more than it does paint a picture of your magnificent rise to racing glory. It's starkly contrasted with the in-game soundtrack, a thing of momentous grandeur which never fails to amp me up.

Actually PCARS's sound is glorious, in much the same way that it is in many racing games. There's no race soundtrack, the game instead opting to allow the vehicles themselves create the music. The whine of the Ariel Atom is contrasted against the gorgeously building roar of a Mercedes Benz and it's often all you need to listen to.

Any console owner would be mad to let Project CARS pass them by. PC gamers have many more options when it comes to simulation racers, but on PS4 or Xbox One you can look no further. Slightly Mad Studios has created easily the best console simulation racer of all time here, a testament to their love for cars and a beautiful reminder of why racing games appeal to people.

There's something about being able to jump into a random car on a random track to just race -- against yourself, against AI and against others -- that I haven't seen in a long time. Everywhere else I'm always racing for a reason -- to earn money for cars, to unlock new areas, to build my driving level for some unknown reason -- but in Project CARS I'm racing for the sake of it.

Joab "Joaby" Gilroy is a huge fan of sports games, racing games, first-person shooters and 4X strategy games. He's awful at fighting and real-time strategy games although he'd love to get better. He thinks the Halo universe is hollow and that Arkham City was the real game of the year in 2011 and that AusGamers' managing editor Stephen Farrelly only gave Skyrim the nod because he is a filthy Marvel fan. His top three games of all time are (in no particular order) Deus Ex, GTA: Vice City and DayZ.

Recent articles by Joab:Find him or follow him on Twitter - @Joabyjojo, Steam - Joabyjojo, Xbox Live and PSN - Joaby, Twitch - /Joabyjojo, Battle.net - Joaby#6688, and Origin - Joaby.

What we liked
  • It looks stunning
  • Helmet view is still the best gimmick in games
  • So many cars
  • So many tracks
  • They all feel so good to drive
What we didn't like
  • UI is clearly made for PC
  • AI covers the spectrum between chaotically idiotic to robotically perfect
  • Glitches in the penalties system can be annoying
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 04:38pm 07/5/15
No damage?
Posted 04:50pm 07/5/15
There's definitely damage. Here's me having lost a wheel, spun out and launched some clown.

Posted 05:26pm 07/5/15
I don't like the sounds of the typical crap AI not knowing where you are. How bad is it really? I got fed up with Forza and the AI just pushing you off the track if you were in their path, not to mention them being on rails so you spin out while they just carry on like nothing happened.
Posted 07:00pm 07/5/15
They definitely know where you are, you can tell they do. They just don't appear to care sometimes. I was reading the Day 1 patch notes that AI is now less inclined to shunt you off the track for the fun of it, which is great to know because they were kinda d**** about it previously.

Surprised you found Forza AI to be shoving you off tracks. You might need better friends, seeing how the degree to which Drivatars shove you off track is linked with your friend's driving style :P
Posted 07:22pm 07/5/15
Really? I just found that if I happened to be next to them when a corner came up, they'd follow that line like they were on a rail regardless of whether or not I was there and ended up just pushing me off the track every time.

In the end I just started doing PIT maneuvers on them but once again, their "on rails" programming prevented them from spinning out. They'd fishtail a little and speed off.
Posted 09:34am 08/5/15
Hopefully this works out better than Assetto Corsa.

I bought it expecting a great sim, got a mediocre driving arcade game... The only thing that made it worth-while was the native Rift support. So I've been waiting for a GOOD driving sim for quite a while.

Since this also has Rift support, this will be my go-to game in the future, methinks. It certainly looked good when I was watching it on twitch.
Posted 09:49am 08/5/15
Up front I'm gonna tell you -- it's not gonna outdo rFACTOR I think. Just cutting that one off at the pass. I think it's better than Assetto Corsa though.
Posted 05:08pm 08/5/15
I depends on what you're looking for. I think PC is a better racing game while Assetto is a better driving game. PC runs like crap on my computer though so that could be ticking me off.
Posted 06:46pm 08/5/15
Just played a pirated version for 10 minutes, definitely buying this ASAP. A masterpiece!

It's not too bad with a 360 controller but I can see why people highly recommend getting a wheel. I also recommend getting a decent sound system for it as well, the engine noises are brilliant out of my Onkyo!
Posted 06:58pm 09/5/15
I purchased Project cars on PS4 due to not being able to take my pc./wheel setup with me out on site.
I find the game to be very very responsive and its pretty much taking over on what everyone thought DRIVE CLUB would be.

The AI is very responsive. Slow down when a crash occurs, cut in and out of the pack. They also dont "randomly" spin out like in FM.
They are not only aware of where I am but where the rest of the field is.
Only played career so far and Im impressed. The tier system is awesome and functional. Having the choice to go from karting to LMP1 is awesome. Something hasnt really been done right since V8 Supercars 3 imho.
The selection of cars is pretty poor, but that will change with FREE DLC every month. i have high hopes for this game!

Im also having trouble with dlc codes not working. can anyone confirm the modified pack and LE packs working?
Posted 07:04pm 09/5/15
What's the damage model like? I've seen some videos and it seems a bit random. Like a head on causing a bit of bonnet damage and smashed lights...
Posted 01:47pm 11/5/15
Built an eyefinity triple screen rig, G27 and tablet running dashmeterpro just for this game. It is a truly incredible experience and a must buy for sim racing fans.
Posted 02:40pm 11/5/15
anyone have an idea on how many laps need to be completed to register on the community leaderboards for events?
I've done about 10 clean laps on the current FA de catalunya circuit
Posted 08:56pm 11/5/15
Cause the psychology of the drivers doesn't change of the course of the race. This is what's meant to separate the amateurs from the pro's but in most racing games all the AI are setup as pro's. Most of racing is psychology, which is why multiplayer in racing games is so important cause AI can not simulate us enough to make it convincing.

Nice cannon shot btw :)
Posted 09:29pm 11/5/15
Cool, might get this for PS4 then, at least my PS4 won't be just sitting here collecting dust
Posted 12:03pm 14/5/15
UI made for PC a bad point, you serious?
Posted 01:40pm 18/5/15
Karts is bloody hard, but rewarding once you persist.
I was frustrated initially , but when you think about it, it's unlikley you would be a good Kart driver in real life if you have never driven them before.
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