Consoles have had a lot of good realistic racing games over the years such as Forza and Gran Turismo while the PC has seen very few entries into the genre. I remember seeing a number of awesome looking screenshots of Project CARS over the past few years and made a mental note to buy it on release. Will this be the start of a long running realistic racing series for the PC?
You can choose to race in the career, manual setup or multiplayer. The career mode seems quite neat at first with different car classes, endorsements, fans and contracts but very quickly it becomes clear there is no objective or incentive to play the game that way. I much preferred setting up my own race to try our different cars and tracks. I really enjoyed doing the entire Nürburgring in an Aston Martin. Overall, I am happy with the number of tracks but would have liked a greater selection of cars. Unfortunately, I believe this is easier said than done due to motor industry’s licensing of rights.
Driving the cars is both fun and and quite difficult to master, I imagine you could easily spend months mastering each car. The karts are a good starting point because they are so easy to drive. I didn’t enjoy the lower end cars so much but the medium and top level are a lot of fun (and increasingly difficult to control).
The default settings for steering wheels are not very good and from what I could tell the force feedback wasn’t working at all. I thought maybe this was just me but looking at the forums it seems a lot of other people are having the same problems. After an hour I was able to sort my wheel settings out and I had to put some downloaded XML files in the game’s storage folder to get force feedback to work. Fixing these made a massive difference to driving difficulty, being able to feel the car like in real life makes the game significantly more fun and more realistic. Nick has been playing Project CARS with an XBox 360 pad and has found the handling to feel very heavy, almost like the car is not connected properly to the thumb sticks.
The graphics are amazing, everything from the tracks to cars to the weather effects are high quality. The most disappointing aspect of this game is the audio, it’s nowhere near good enough. It’s difficult to judge when to change gears, some of the cars sound flat, crashes sound like light bumps and driving with tires off of the track makes unnoticeable sound.
In true PC game fashion Project CARS has a significant range of options, there is a lot that can be customised. Having said that, there are no audio options (beyond volume)… maybe related to my complaints about the sound effects.
There is a lot of complaining on social platforms about bugs but beyond the screen going blank and needing an alt-tab to restore, I haven’t encountered any major bugs. The AI is in need of some work because as soon as get above ten or so cars there tends to be a lot of crashing. I’m not convinced that the racing lines are always accurate, they seem fine for karts and high end cars but I really struggled to make it round the track driving the Ford Focus RS using the racing lines, the car struggled to make any of the corners even when the racing line was green. Having said that, the Ford Focus RS didn’t feel right to drive at all (more like a lorry!), maybe there was a bug when I drove it. Nick struggled with the AI also, finding it to be so slow on certain tracks that it was no challenge at all, which really took away from the career mode.
If Project CARS was cheaper, the impact of sound improved, there was more incentive to play the career mode and AI didn’t crash so often I would recommend Project CARS but as it stands I can neither recommend nor not recommend Project CARS.