|System: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U|
|Dev: Slightly Mad Studios|
|Pub: Bandai Namco|
|Release: May 7, 2015|
|Players: 1-24 Online|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
There is a single player career mode, but even this is customizable. You can start at any level in any division with any sort of car. You can adjust your difficulty at any time, making certain circuits harder, easier, longer, or shorter. This is actually fantastic, as you can make the races you hate short and easy and the races you love long and hard. There’s no real “game end” scenario. You simply hop in, race the way you want, and hop out when you are done. You get to create a racer, but this is secondary to the cars, and you have three main goals you are asked to complete, but this too is secondary. It’s kind of like a career mode in any given sports title, but way way more open-ended. The only barriers are your own.
Project CARS is a game that absolutely begs to be played with a racing wheel setup. It does its best to be welcoming if you are playing with keyboard and mouse or a gamepad, but both of these options are sorely lacking in giving you the full racing experience. You can tweak your controls and options, futzing around with your dead zones on your stick, but with a racing wheel you even get to screw around with force feedback, so it actually feels as if the wheel is tugging at you as you take sharp turns. Of course, that creates yet another barrier to entry in the form of the cost of a racing wheel.
To be honest, it’s these barriers that hinder Project CARS the most. Many modern day games hold your hand from beginning to end, but Project CARS asks you to have your own fun. Want to run time trials against yourself? You can do that. Want to race in 24 player online races? You can do that. Want to race for literally hours upon hours in just one race? You are crazy, but you can do that. The most Project CARS does is offer you challenges here and there to break up the single-player mode, but aside from that, you have to decide what you want to do, and do it. I know that I, more than once, found myself lacking motivation to continue on simply because I didn’t want to futz with options again, but at that point I had already spent several hours on the game without even knowing it.
In short, Project CARS is a racing game that has everything, but doesn’t necessarily appeal to everybody. It’s hard to fault the game in any particular way. It runs well, looks gorgeous, and does exactly what it advertises, which is a lot, but nothing more. I wouldn’t call it a breakthrough in racing design, but rather a refinement of the racing sim formula. It knows what it is, and knows what its audience is. If you are part of that audience, definitely give it a look. It’s probably the best racing sim on the market right now. Just know that it’s meant to appeal to hardcore gear heads first and foremost, and people looking for a more casual racing experience should probably look elsewhere.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: May 7, 2015