Slightly Mad Studios (SMS) are the guys behind the amazing Project Cars racing game. Scratch that last part! Project Cars is by no means a game. Project Cars is a full-blown racing simulation. Anyway Slightly Mad Studios are back again. This time they bring us Project Cars 2 which is available on Xbox One, PC and PlayStation 4.
Before I start this review, I know our regular readers will be wondering why I’m reviewing this game and not Stuart. Well as it happened the gods smiled down on me and wiped his hard drive and then sent him to EGX. So Stuart didn’t get the chance to hammer his Fanatec set-up this time around. So here I am with an evil glint in my eye getting ready to review Project Cars 2.
I have to admit this is a favourite genre for me so I personally purchased this game instead of waiting for the review code. I purchased the Collectors Edition, this had oodles of goodies enclosed which are enough to make every Project Cars fan very happy for the price. First, you notice the clean well-presented box it all comes in. You know it’s going to be good when you get inside it.
Enclosed in the box I received the Japanese Cars Pack which I think comes with all pre-orders. I also received the all-important Season Pass, a Steelbook with the game inside. A beautifully presented 200-page art book. A Sticker Sheet, an Esports VIP pass, which is solid, clean and nice-looking to help you feel special at the events. Most importantly you get a 1:43 scale McLaren 720s which looks beautiful and is something to drool over.
Project Cars 2 is a dream come true for all racing simulation enthusiasts. There are 60+ tracks and there are 170+ cars in this game so nobody can say there’s a lack of content here, and over time that list will grow larger and larger.
The whole game from the start looks new and refreshing. It’s not as daunting to move around the menus in Project Cars 2. There is a mountain of options in the options screen so you can tinker till your heart’s content to get it set up just as you want it. There are a lot of modes here to be experienced, from Solo Race, Career Mode, Multiplayer to Custom Race, Affinity Races and Invitational Events.
I start my career. Firstly I entered my name followed by my country. Then you have to decide what tier you begin with. Personally, i started in tier 6 so I could get the full experience and hope to one day reach and win tier 1 and be a racing legend. Tier 6 options are Formula Rookie, Go-Karts and the Ginetta Juniors. I struggle with the open-wheeled racers on Project Cars so for me this was an easy choice. I picked the Ginetta Juniors.
So off I head down to the track ready to see how my first career race will pan out. Instantly I wish I had turned on the practice option. These cars handle a lot more differently than project cars for a number of reasons firstly you have what SMS call “Live Track 3.0” Now for those of you who don’t know what that is I’ll explain it to you.
The track is no longer just a graphical “thing” that you race on. Now its as close to the real-life version as you could possibly imagine. The track temps vary depending on the time of day, the time of year and what the weather is like. They have every bump every dip in the game that’s on the real-life track. You could go round the track and lose traction because someone else has come off the track and dragged the gravel dirt or mud back on the track with them. When it rains you do get puddles as expected but this time they are dynamic. They move around the track as the race goes on and if your lucky and the weather clears you will see those puddles dry up as each lap goes by. The tyre physics have been improved dramatically for Project Cars second instalment. The way they wear and heat up is exactly as you would expect in real life so this can take some getting used to.
Needless to say my first qualifying round didn’t quite go according to plan. I started 12th on the grid even though I thought by the end I was getting quite fast. The first race was quite a struggle, with the AI doing a great job blocking my overtakes, although I did manage to claw my way to the middle of the pack. Overall a disappointing first career race was over.
The second race I spent more time in set-up, changing all the settings on my car till I got it just right. If you’re not great at car setup’s, there is an option for your engineer to help you if you tell him what’s wrong with the drive and he will do his best to correct it. The second race everything started to piece together and that’s when you get so much joy from the game. Getting those corners just right, speeding down the straights and getting those fastest lap times feels great. The adrenaline really starts pumping and you just keep trying to get faster and faster to keep that adrenaline-fuelled buzz alive!
Every car in this game handles differently some are easier than others depending on your driving style, for example, I am terrible in pretty much all the open-wheeled cars in both this game and the first game. This time around they have made the game playable on a controller as well as a steering wheel. Although I do use that statement loosely, it’s still a nightmare and I would highly recommend a steering wheel for this game.
I can’t imagine many of the serious players using anything but a wheel to be fair. This isn’t a game I’d say is aimed at the casual racer by any means. This is meant for the hardcore racer who is comfortable altering all the in-car settings, knows about steering wheel settings and wants to feel every bump and slide in the car and know how to naturally respond to it and correct accordingly.
When your online Project Cars 2 pays attention to how you race and it matches you with players of the same skill level and most importantly it matches you with players who have your play style. For example, if your one of these annoying idiots who like to bump everyone to get around the corner then you will get stuck with other drivers like that, so your race will probably be a destruction derby. If however, you’re a clean racer you will have the joys of racing with other clean racers so if someone does knock or rub you then you know it’s a genuine accident. Let’s face it that does happen in real life so it adds to your driving experience.
Affinity Races are awarded when you drive your car for a set distance. You will get set challenges from the manufacturer of the car you drove and if you are lucky enough to pass all there challenges you will become a Factory Driver but that will take time and practice, it won’t happen straight away.
Invitational Events are a lot of fun too. They are awarded for hitting milestones like 50 podium finishes or winning 12 races, I think you get the picture there. These are special events like rallycross, ice racing, vintage cars etc.
Project Cars 2 is graphically beautiful. I can’t fault SMS at all. This game is a visual treat. The lighting effects are perfect as day turns to-night and night turns to-day. I’ll never forget racing around Brands Hatch when the sun was low in the sky thinking how beautiful it looked then all of a sudden, I got a surprise when it started to snow and I saw it settling and thinking wow.
The level of detail gone into this game is outstanding from the track textures right down to how the rain droplets move on your car as you charge around the track. I would even go as far as to say that GT Sport has something to worry about here.
That’s a big statement coming from me as I am a huge fan of the series!!
The audio is next to perfect. I love the menu music it fills your soul with anticipation to what’s going to happen when you hit the track. The low growl of the engines through to the high-pitched whine just before you change gears are perfect. I have read some people have had issues where they say the other engines sound just as loud at a distance as what they do when they are right alongside you. Personally, I never noticed this in my experiences with Project Cars 2.
Maybe it’s their race setup or speaker setup that’s configured wrong?
If racing simulations are your thing, this game has endless hours for you. There is so much to do in Project Cars 2 that you really can’t get to the end. There’s always something to do in one of the game modes. If you have the concentration this game will be a game you could play for years. There is definitely a very long lifespan to this game.
If you enjoyed Slightly Mad Studios first outing of Project Cars then you will LOVE their latest outing in Project Cars 2. This game has really grabbed me. I’ve tried my hardest to find a fault with this game. Honestly, I can’t!!
This game seems to be perfect in my eyes regarding gameplay, audio and graphically. If I was forced to say anything negative about this game then I would say it’s not for the casual racer. Not even slightly. The casual racer would probably play for an hour, stand up and announce the game is broken and it sucks. I say move out the way Nancy and let me play this game while you play your arcade racer.
I can’t stress enough how good I found this game and there have already been a lot of great racers out this year. With only one other major racing release this year to come which I mentioned earlier. Buy this game if you don’t already own it. If you do own it I will probably see you on the track for a long time to come. I award Project Cars 2 with a Pole Position and a Thumb Culture Essential Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.
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