Project CARS Reviews

AuthorReview
Matt Remastered
504,227 (309,502)
Matt Remastered
TA Score for this game: 676
Posted on 11 May 15 at 11:53
This review has 15 positive votes and 4 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Project Cars Review, by Matthew Cheetham

Slightly Mad Studios’ Project Cars has been in the limelight for some time, the multi-platform racing sim is unique in the fact that multiple users have had the chance to influence the development of the game, and after multiple delays, the game is finally here for all to enjoy.

The input of real world racing players is immediately evident through one element of Project Cars. Variety, contrary to the shortcomings of Xbox One launch game Forza 5, Project Cars delivers close to a hundred circuits, and a full weather cycle including light rain, fog, torrential downpours, pitch black skies and much more. Importantly, the weather conditions in Project Cars have a direct and pronounced effect on the vehicles you are driving with wet weather night driving being extremely difficult especially due to the fact that there is no rewind feature, something that gamers are becoming more and more accustomed to when playing a racing game. This is by no means a disadvantage though, in fact it gives Project Cars a unique edge when it comes to pure simulation racing, forcing players to drive more tactically as opposed to speeding as fast as they can without a care in the world.

So what about the cars themselves, perhaps surprisingly Project Cars only comes with 65 cars out of the box, a small number given how many cars its competitors have, but perhaps understandable given the limited budget and support this new IP has when compared to its competitors. What Project Cars’ roster does have on its side is diversity, with the 65 cars all having a distinct feel on the track, you really can tell that you’re behind the wheel of a supercar here, and not just from the engine sounds. In addition all of the 65 cars have full damage modelling here, adding to on track immersion significantly.

On the track is where it matters for a lot of racing sim fans, and in the form of Project Cars you have a fantastic racing simulation with realistic handling, dynamic weather effects and a realistic damage engine, but unfortunately this is where the positives end, as the game has numerous issues and disadvantages that are simply unforgivable.

The first of these problems I have to mention are the bugs, which are numerous. Having only played the game for 14 hours I have found numerous small and large bugs across the board, going on to gravel for instance has mysteriously propelled me forwards at full speed, races have been abruptly ended by my tyres getting stuck during a left turn, or a lap not registering as being completed. I have tried to play online for 2 full hours, only to be greeted with the same error message over and over again. And perhaps the most glaring and obvious bug, you cannot chat in a party while playing this game, in the menus you are fine, but as soon as the race begins your party chat will begin to stutter and lag, don’t believe me, go and try it. Obviously these issues can be fixed in the future, but for a game to come out of the gate in this condition is going to be unforgivable to some.

The second glaring con is in the aesthetics, and at this point some of you may want me committed, but hear me out. We have all been treated to video after video detailing how beautiful this game is, but in reality, when you have the game on your screen, you will undoubtedly be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong the game doesn't look terrible and there are some instances where it looks O.K. The huge disappointment for me is the promise of greatness met with what we actually have, yes the game runs at 60fps, but so does Forza 5, and that game looks significantly better. Digital Foundry’s comparison videos confirm that the PS4 version looks significantly better, and it seems we have yet another case of Xbox One games being handicapped against their competitors. Yes the PS4 is more powerful than our beloved console, but the difference in console power isn't reflected on screen here, and if Xbox One purchasers were hoping for a graphical showcase, prepare to be disappointed.

The final con here is the presentation, when you start the game you are just treated to numerous boxes with options inside them. There are small presentation videos but when compared to Forza the difference in presentation is night and day. The career mode is a particular low point for the game as all you get are constant walls of text to read via email, and a messy calendar that really doesn't feel intuitive to use at all.

To conclude then, if you are a racing fan and you can stomach the numerous faults this game has to offer, then you will find a great on track racer here, for the rest of us, it may not be worth digging through all of the dirt. Project Cars is by no means a terrible game, and it is a decent first attempt at new IP for the company. If the game gets a sequel, it may be able to ruffle the feathers of Forza and Gran Turismo, just don’t come here expecting to get a ‘Forza Killer’, because for all the problems Forza 5 has, I’d still rather be playing that game.
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x Mataeus x
866,830 (519,603)
x Mataeus x
TA Score for this game: 404
Posted on 11 October 16 at 14:29, Edited on 12 October 16 at 07:12
This review has 8 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
This is the review for the GOTY Edition. By all accounts, it's a very different beast than the original release.

Preamble:
Please note I play a lot of these games on my 'review' tag, and often before achievements are live. As with all of my reviews, the verdict below is based purely on my personal time with the game. My reviews are not influenced by general opinions, they do not draw reference to other people’s experiences (unless I’m reviewing couch co-op play), nor are they based on any one particular element; rather they are an account of my own experiences, and as a result are entirely subjective – as they should be! I try to be as spoiler-free as possible, but in the interest of providing an honest account, some reveals may be necessary. Enjoy smile

Please COMMENT if you down vote - I take the time to create these reviews for this community; I'd love your feedback!


Review:
Slightly Mad Studios went through an unconventional development process with Project CARS. The game was entirely created through community collaboration. Not only was it crowd-funded, with people pledging hundreds of thousand of pounds to the project, but the community was invited to create content for the game as well. The end result was supposed to be a driving simulation game people would love to play, because the people had created it. Of course, this all relied on Slightly Mad Studios producing a frame work with a great driving model and a fantastic game engine.

As I understand it, Project CARS was released to a disappointed crowd of hopefuls who were waiting for the complete driving experience, but received something far less. I wouldn’t know, because I never played it. Recently, the team at Slightly Mad Studios re-released the game, along with 28 downloadable content packs and “over 500 improvements” included, as the Game of the Year edition. That’s the version I purchased a few weeks ago, and it must have come a long way over the last eighteen months, because it would seem I’m getting a completely different experience to everyone else.

Project CARS is a fantastic sim racer. Even with twenty-two cars on screen and racing in the awesome helmet-cam, it maintains a perfectly smooth 60hz refresh rate, with – according to the packaging – a 600hz physics engine. That’s six hundred calculations per second creating the driving model. For me personally, the realistic feel of all the models I’ve driven, from karts to classic, sits right in the narrow gap between Forza Motorsport 6 and Assetto Corsa. In other words, they’ve really nailed the simulation, and that, for racing enthusiasts like me, is the most important aspect. Unlike Kunos Simulazioni and their Italian driving sim though, Slightly Mad Studios have also built a great game around the experience of driving. This aspect isn’t as polished as Turn 10’s ridiculously shiny and smooth Forza series, but it’s a close second.

You can jump straight into any car on any track, should you so wish, and hit the Time Trials and quick race options. You can also take your experience on line and get battered from pillar to post by kids who have no idea what gentlemanly conduct is. But the draw for me is the career option; a chance to live the life of a racing driver.

Starting out as a fresh driver looking for a rookie team to enter the Kart One championship with, you’ll spend your opening year deliberating over contracts, and taking up offers from teams in other disciplines to drive for them in exhibition races. Of course, while you deal with all of this, you’ll also be racing for the glory of your first ever team in your humble Go-Kart. As well as an e-mail inbox to keep track of communication with your employers, race engineers and other people, there’s a calendar you can skim through which shows you all of the action on any given day. You can look over this to see when your next race is and where, and if you have any invitations to exhibition drives coming up. There’s also a news feed in your career hub, with reports and post-race comments from drivers, and even a Twitter-style feed which has funny and cheesy quotes from the public: “Cooper FTW!” “@WMD_Mat, YAAAAAAAAAAY!”. Just like the real thing.

Races can feature practice, qualifying and, of course, race day action over the course of the event. They’re also part of championships, with points gained at each race built around the structure of their real world counterparts. You can go from Karting to Touring Cars, through endurance racing and even up into the game’s unlicensed equivalents of Formula Ford, F3, GP2 and F1. The ability to move up through the disciplines is only hampered by your ability to drive well and get good results. Each car you drive throughout your multi-year career has a distinctive feel, and the physics model is simply superb. With all of the assists turned off, when you’re pushing a vehicle to it’s limits, you feel that exhilarating rush of adrenaline, knowing that one tiny mistake can see you bouncing across the grass or beached in a gravel trap. Of course the karts you start off in are very forgiving and famously twitchy, but manage to get beyond this and start your career proper, and that’s where the real fun comes in. That feeling of being right on the edge of control, neck and neck with first place, twenty other drivers breathing down your neck, the fantastic AI pulling off the racing line looking for opportunities to pass, or blocking your overtaking manoeuvre. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a sixty year old classic with four gears and a top speed of 100mph, or a modern hypercar which hits that speed in four seconds. Whatever you’re driving, that amazing feeling of being on the fine line between glory and disaster is perfectly emulated by the game.

All of the cars I’ve driven out of the hundreds available in the game behave exactly as I would expect them to in real life; as far as the simulation engine goes, it’s one of the best. Even the tyre simulation is dynamic, reacting to everything physically – there are no hook-up tables here, just great physics interacting with one another. Slightly Mad Studios built it around the rFactor 2 simulation platform, which in turn is used by Formula One teams and the like to give them an advantage in real world situations. On top of this, the game looks stunning. Not just the cars, which are detailed and recreated intricately from inside to out, but the tracks themselves are really superbly built. You can race at any time of day, in rain, fog or sunshine, or even at night under a cold, floodlit track. At dusk the sun can get right in your eyes as you’re going over a crest, and it adds yet another level of realism to the game; just how brave are you? Project CARS epitomises risk/reward racing.

With a fantastic physics engine where each car feels realistically different, great graphics for the tracks as well as the cars and a satisfying, extensive career mode, Project CARS is petrol head heaven. The hundreds of tweaks, improvements and optimisations, not to mention the wealth of cars and circuits included in this Game of the Year Edition make this a priority purchase for anyone interested in simulation racing on consoles. If you’re exhausted with Forza and Assetto Corsa isn’t complete enough for you, don’t hesitate. Buy it, slip the disc in and rev her up.
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M0DERNDAYPIRATE
165,143 (108,725)
M0DERNDAYPIRATE
TA Score for this game: 798
Posted on 11 May 15 at 09:44, Edited on 11 May 15 at 09:45
This review has 10 positive votes and 3 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Project C.A.R.S was hyped to be the next best thing when it came to racing on the Xbox One, but doe it deliver on the hype? Well, yes and no.

Out Of The Box

Like most of the people who will have purchased this and haven't ever raced a sim racer on the PC they will be coming from Forza 5. And for most of that Forza 5 population, including me, when they first get into a car in PCars they'll be in for a shock. Let's start with the handling physics. They are a World apart from anything I've ever experienced before. And this in itself poses a problem. It doesn't matter if you're using the game pad or the steering wheel you will need to spend a good amount of time getting the settings right in the vast amount of menu screens before you even think about heading out on track. Is this a good thing? Honestly no.


I can appreciate that this is a sim racer, in fact I'm happy that there is such a game on the market for fans of racing, like me. But it's daunting. The sheer amount of settings just related to force feedback, steering sensitivity and so on means that you'll spend more time adjusting sliders than you will initially racing. And the lack of "laymans terms" explanations as to what each slider does alienates those that have never delved into a sim racer. Hell, I bet you that even those that are used to sim racing are having trouble trying to decipher what Sop Scale is, or what the FY, FX & FZ scale do. And yes, I know it's trial and error with going out on track and testing each and every one to get it "just" right but seriously, is this what you want? And remember, we've not even got to the fine tuning of the car yet, this is just so you can handle the things. And you have to do this with EVERY car. There is no "one size fits all" option. Again, I understand it's a sim racer but your average Forza player, in my opinion is going to get a little miffed having to do this all the time. One good thing about this is that once you have eventually found the settings you like then you can save it to each car meaning that unless you really want to, you don't then have to do it all again.

Tuning

Ok, so you've finally managed to get your controller/wheel settings to a level in which you're happy that you can actually turn the car without it spinning around like an Olympic Ice Skater putting in a gold performance, now it's down to the fine tuning of the cars. And once again each car will have it's own handling styles, and you can tune this to within an inch of their lives. And save them. Be it to the track you're racing one (if you get that far) or a group of similar tracks so you don't have to go through the wealth of sliders all over again. For those that like to tune their cars then this is tweaking porn and you'll get plenty of hours enjoyment trying to get that extra second out of your lap times. For those, like me that have only dabbled in tuning then once again it can be daunting, but that's what we want in a sim racer. Otherwise we wouldn't have bought the car, right?

On Track

Congratulations, you've made it on track. It may have taken you a while but was it worth it? Yes, I think we can say it was. The game looks good. I won't say great as occasionally you can suffer from a drop in frame rate, and sometimes screen tearing but overall I think we can we suitably satisfied with the presentation when you're actually racing around the many tracks Slightly Mad Studios have put into the game. One thing I think most people have wanted from a racing game is that "real life" experience of recreating something like the Le Mans 24 hours day/night cycle. But fear not, you don't have drive around for 24 hours to get that, you can, if you're crazy enough and have stocked up on adult nappies so you don't have to leave your chair for a toilet break, but you can speed up time to get that transition. And if you want to race around in thunderstorm and see the flashes of lighting in the distance then you won't be disappointed. The track evolves to the conditions. When you first leave the pits you're tyres will be cold which means you'll have to take it easy for the first few laps until they are up to temperature but once they are then you'll in for a good ride.

The AI difficulty can be adjusted to suit your skill level so if you're struggling to keep up then you're given the ability to turn it down a notch. However the AI can be somewhat hit or miss.

The game also suffers from some weird bugs. For instance when you're hitting the brakes the sound breaks up, goes all funny or in some instances completely cuts out. Yes there are workarounds for this but really, you shouldn't need to "workaround" these issues.

The Cars

With something like Forza you're spoilt for choice when it comes to car choice. That's always been a main staple of Turn 10's offering. The down side to this is that you're almost given too much choice. With PCars you have somewhere in the region of 60 cars to use. Ranging from the "what should of been fun but actually is not" karts, Touring Cars, GT Cars, Le Man's Prototypes all the way through to the Formula A open wheel cars which is SMS's offering of Formula 1 cars. And with the promise of more car content via DLC this list will continue to grow. And again, as I refer back to my earlier comment each car can be tuned to how you like it. So all in all I'd say there is a good variety.

Mulitplayer

I think this is where SMS have made an error. The lack of choosable multiplayer lobbies. Unless you have a group of friends that you are going to race with then you're stuck. You can choose which track you want to race on, with what car you'd like to use, and the skill level of your opponents, but you're at the mercy of the search function because you can't choose what lobby you want to race in. Rather you're just plonked into where ever the game decides to to put you in. Even games like Project Gotham had options where you could decide which lobby you wanted to join so it's not as if it's an issue. And even the PS4 version has lobby lists. Why oh why was this not implemented for the Xbox version? This is something that needs to be looked at and resolved.

Another problem you can run into when online is lag. If a player joins in the session whilst you're on track you suffer a momentary lag, which is unforgiving if you're going around a corner. And there are the problems with exiting the pits, with cars veering towards the pit wall. Hopefully SMS can rectify these problems with a patch, but for a game that has been in development for quite some time, and was delayed over and over because they wanted to make sure it was polished for release this really shouldn't have been an problem.

Overall

Much like McLaren's new MP4-30, the hype surrounding this was huge, the expectations even higher and there is nothing like PCars on the Xbox One at the moment. Even though we have Forza, which is really the only game you can try to compare it to it would be unfair to do so. You need to erase your memory of every car game you've played and take it for what it is. A true sim racer. The game has it's problems, like most do when they are released, but with the amount of development time and delays it has gone through I'd have expected a more polished release. The lack of explanation as to what settings to what is a big issue for those starting up in sim racing.

I'm hoping that with time, and patches PCars can overcome these mechanical issues and start to perform like Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, rather than Jenson Button's McLaren. The package is there, now we just need to get the internals working together.

Out of 5, in it's current state I'd give this game an 3.5. There are too many issues with it for me to give it a higher rating, and whilst yes, there is nothing like it on the Xbox One at the moment it does need to improve before it can be considered a great game.

(I'm playing Project C.A.R.S using a Tx Thrustmaster 458 Italia Edition wheel)
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