Simulation racers are tough. For the player, they must take into consideration almost every aspect of driving a car while ready the track in front of them. For the developer, it’s tough to make all of that authentic and fun. Developers Slightly Mad Studios decided the best way to perfect this balance was to include the fans from day one and help them hone the game from its conception to its final release. It may not match the best out there but it’s really damn close.
You could strike off every other simulation racer that’s pretty great by saying that all others are the same but you’d be wrong. Chances are, people will look at Project Cars and compare it to Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo but it genuinely feels different. This also doesn’t mean that Project Cars feels unrealistic. In fact, should you want, Project Cars can be the most authentic racing game out there. But, somehow, it’s one of the most accessible.
Cars are beasts, well, at least the more powerful ones are. The most satisfying feeling is getting behind a powerful beast and always feel like you’re a whisker from losing control. You feel that in Project Cars. Throttle too heavily coming out of a corner and the beast will kick, spin you around, and leave you dazed. It’s all about maintaining control, knowing its limitations and carrying them out.
Choice is a massive key point to Project Cars. First off, you never earn money or credits to upgrade cars or buy new ones. All championships are unlocked from the beginning meaning you can go straight from the big one; although, that’s not really advisable as chances are you’ll never get past the first few corners without crashing or spinning out.
You can start right at the beginning, in karts. It’s surprisingly fun to race around these miniature courses and it’s got enough tracks to keep you playing for a couple of hours. From there you can move up or you can stay where you are for as long as you want for season after season.
The fun in Project Cars is not the acclaim and money, moving up and buying more expensive cars for your garage but rather improving your skills both with a new series of car and with all the tracks on offer.
The feeling of accomplishing a perfect lap is better than winning entire championships in other games. The feel of the cars with the right assists turned off is equally terrifying and gratifying as you glide around corners and brake at the right time before a tight turn.
What makes things even more satisfying is that Project Cars does not feature any rewind mechanic. This makes risk-taking a risk again as one wrong decision can cost you the entire race. Far too often in other games I would use other vehicles as a sudden brake on tight corners, this isn’t an option in Project Cars. It can be not utilised in other games but the temptation is always there. Project Cars feels pure and doesn’t give you second chances at every turn.
The game also features a weather system that can change things quite dramatically. It may not be technically as impressive as PlayStation 4’s Driveclub but it’s still rather impressive visually. You can set up to four weather types in a race and have them transition from one to another to create an epic showdown or just to enjoy the scenery.
The one big downside to Project Cars is the incentive to keep playing is your own. The career mode while welcomed just doesn’t have the structure to make you feel truly invested. It’s good in one sense that the freedom is your own but a predetermined choice would feel like you’re getting somewhere.
While other games celebrate the cars themselves, Project Cars celebrates racing and weirdly enough, that feels quite refreshing. There is plenty of content and while the car list may be lacking for some, variety is definitely not. It’s hard to say how your mileage will vary but for those enthusiasts, Projects Cars is all you’re going to need for quite some time.