Project CARS 2 could be the ultimate racing sim
© Slightly Mad Studios
We’ve spent time with a near final build of the game – here’s what to expect come September.
Some lofty claims have been made about just how authentic Project CARS 2 is going to be when it’s released later this year, but having spent a good number of hours with Slightly Mad Studios’ follow up to one of the best racers of 2015, we’re very impressed and have to say that early indications are that it’s every bit the sim that we’ve been promised.
There’s an incredible depth to the game, with customisation options in every nook and cranny, and we’re here to tell you exactly why it’s impressed us so much thus far, because from the visuals to the realism, this might be the racer you always wanted.
It really is a simulation
Jumping in with no assists and authentic settings was a bad idea. You can feel every bump, every camber in the road, and you will lose control very quickly if you’re not at the very top of your game. Every car feels different, which means you need to spend time learning not just how they feel, but also how they react on each track and in different weather conditions. Even the simplest of karts can spin out if nudged or handled improperly. Project CARS 2 is every bit the hardcore sim racer we were told it’d be, and it takes time to properly learn how to compete on the higher difficulties and, quite frankly, the lower ones too.
Ice conditions will test you to the very edge of your abilities, and trying to take a corner without care in a Ferrari Enzo will end with you smashing up a very expensive car and looking rather foolish. Even on a sunny day you must respect the corners, warm up your tires, and drive like you mean it.The opposition cars will be aggressive (more on that later) and aren’t afraid to bump you if you’re in the way, but keeping to the racing line and braking properly will see you through. Every race left us a sweaty mess, having required the utmost in concentration.
The customisation is off the charts
While there’s a hefty career mode (that we’ve dabbled in, but not seen the entirety of just yet), just fooling around in quick play mode will cause you to lose hours at a time. With multiple weather presets, race types, cars, and difficulties, there’s just so much to do.
On top of that, you can drill down into the minutiae of the cars and set up pitstops, assists, and generally tailor the experience to be as authentic as you want. We recommend starting with some of the assists on, but not too many because you want to feel the car yourself, not have it driven for you. Project CARS 2 is a game that will reward you for spending time with it, and setting it up just how you want it to play.
There are lots of tracks
Much has been made of the 180 cars promised for the sequel, with plenty of manufacturers wanting in after missing the first time out. We weren’t prepared for the amount of courses, though. Dynamic weather combined with the plethora of track offers so many choices that it’s hard to know where to start. From the simpler Daytona layout of North America to the obscenely tight cornering of the European Azure Coast (which itself has five layouts), there’s something for everyone. If you fancy it, you can even do a real-life 24 hour marathon with your pals.
Of course, different tracks are better suited to different cars, and experimenting with the aforementioned weather, tracks, and cars, will take up an enormous amount of time. We’re looking forward to seeing some of the hot laps and competing for the best times online.
Rallycross feels completely different and the weather is intense
While rallycross isn’t new to driving games, it’s hard to think of a more authentic feeling experience than what we’ve experienced in Project CARS 2 so far. As instructions are barked out at us via the DualShock 4 speaker (a nice touch returning from the first game), the action is intense: corners require drifting at breakneck speed, and hill jumps will appear suddenly and need to be dealt with. The main thing we took from rallycross is how it feels so different to anything else: this is a truly intense experience that rewards practice and dedication.
Adding to the intensity are the weather effects. Ice and snow will have you gripping the controller for dear life, and blizzard conditions make visibility near zero. Rainstorms look beautiful and make for difficult races on slippery tracks, while racing on a sunny day is pretty and shows off the lighting effects Slightly Mad Studios are implementing with HDR on PS4.
Mad Mike’s RADBUL is insane
Of course, being the brave drivers we are, we jumped straight into the RADBUL and promptly span out within five seconds. This car is a monster – seriously. Of all the cars we tested, this 1,000+ horsepower behemoth was the hardest to drive. With a top speed of over 170mph it requires the utmost concentration to tame. This is yet another example of Slightly Mad Studios going above and beyond to create a realistic simulation of the sport, however – we’re just not quite skilled enough yet to showcase RADBUL’s true potential.
It looks as beautiful as it plays
As you’d expect, Project CARS 2 is a pretty looking game on PS4. This early build runs at a smooth 60fps and has some gorgeous lighting effects. Sun will blind you in cockpit view, but that’s if you’re not already distracted by the interior of your car: all of the ones we’ve tested so far seem authentic and modelled with care and attention to detail. The inclement weather looks brilliant as well, with special mention going to the rain which seems so realistic it’s almost off putting.
This all adds up to make a game that is going to make purists very happy indeed. Intensely challenging but satisfying, we’ll find out soon enough if fans warm to Slightly Mad Studios’ second take on the sim-racer. For now, though, we’re impressed at the dedication gone into Project CARS 2 – just know that similar dedication from you will be required to get the most out of it.