Project CARS 2 Review
Bandai Namco and Slightly Mad Studios dare all would be racers to take the wheel with their new sim racing game Project CARS 2. Claiming to have some of the most realistic handling the genre has seen to date, should you take on its challenge?
Project CARS 2 Review
Project CARS 2 gives the player complete control over their driving experience. This game packs 180 cars and 60 tracks (with a slew of different driving variables and a dynamic weather system), meaning that it is nearly impossible to get bored. Want to adjust the braking, downforce, suspension, or gearing? You can do that. Want to change the HUD or camera view? You can do that too. Want to take a Ford Escort onto the Daytona International Speedway? Whatever floats your boat. Car neophytes will have their head spin at the amount of customizable variables it throws at you, but there is a rabbit hole of depth for those looking for it.
Let’s say you’re more of a casual racer; is Project CARS 2 right for you? It depends. The game does try to ease the barrier of entry with options like steering and braking assists, along with the ability to drive automatic. There is also an optional Race Engineer that can be utilized that will walk you through whatever struggles you may have, and then make the necessary tweaks on his end. This accommodation is nice, but those weaned on more arcade racers will still hit a serious learning curve.
The challenge ultimately comes down to the handling. Those who have placed other racing simulators like Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport will know that slamming on the gas and brakes is not the way to go. However, whether it be a McLaren 720S or a puny little go-kart, these vehicles have a nasty habit of fishtailing. The game tends to exaggerate elements of car handling, especially when it comes to things like weight transfer. As a result, one wrong move can have the player go from first to fifth, all because they weren’t delicate enough. It’s not a dealbreaker; far from it – however, it requires the player’s undivided attention through and through, and no doubt takes some getting used to.
With all of the care that went into each car and the racing system, it’s a shame that the AI of the racers did not get the same treatment. Players can choose the difficulty of the AI on a scale, or choose how aggressive they drive. Despite all of this, rival racers are a rowdy bunch, and will slam into you at a moment’s notice. This can get frustrating, and doing ten laps only to be slammed behind on the ninth invalidates your time. It feels more like Criterion’s Burnout in that regard, and will be a thorn in the side of those racing in the game’s Career Mode.
Speaking of the Career Mode, that demands perfection too. From the get-go, players can choose from a number of different tiers, with only the top two locked away. Things are broken down into a series of races. Finish in the top three of a series, and it’s off to the next race in the season. It can be disheartening to be doing so well the first three races, only to see everything crash and burn with a lousy final race that forces you to do everything once more.
Those that stick with it, though, will be able to try out a number of different conditions, vehicles, and locales from around the world. There is also the ability to participate in Manufacturer Drives that allow you to represent brands like Porsche, Ferrari, and more. It certainly adds some depth to the Career Mode, and will have people playing for some time to increase their affinity across a wide variety of brands.
If you would rather jump into the action can also do so with any vehicle, track, and condition they want in either a quick race or a time trial (which supports ghosts). This flexibility is nice, and it allows players to see what is available at the drop of the hat. Staple racetracks like the Sonoma Raceway or the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are available, along with more scenic routes like California’s Highway 1. The selection here is great, and the tracks from around the world are a great site. Everything especially stands out on the PlayStation 4 Pro; the support for HDR and 4K resolution makes everything pop on the proper display, all without any slowdown to speak of.
The game isn’t without its bugs though. It sometimes froze when loading races in both single player and online modes, forcing us to close out the game and reload it. The Online Mode also occasionally froze on the results screen, though matches ran without any noticeable lag.
Project CARS 2 demands some serious time investment, for better or worse. The handling takes some getting used to, but the amount of cars, tracks, and variables makes it a worthwhile title for those looking to get some racing action in.