It’s been just over a year since Project CARS graced the Xbox One, it quickly became the best racing simulation game on consoles and now its back with over 500 tweaks and a huge amount of DLC for players to experience. Project Cars GOTY edition comes with around extra 50 cars, putting the total up to 125, while taking a look at the patch notes confirms just how detailed the game actual is.
I still love playing through the career mode, which gives you the chance to play across 8 tiers of competitions, I started a new career and as normal started at the bottom by racing the karts, my first experience with them wasn’t great but it works much better now, of course I wanted to try racing with some more impressive cars so quickly made my through the early races to experience a different discipline.
The touring cars are great fun, jostling for position with the other cars all while trying keep on the road is a challenge but a brilliant experience, I managed to scale the difficulty of the AI just right, they were challenging but not to the point where the enjoyment reduced, you can decide on the difficulty before every session you take part in which is a neat idea.
Project CARS allows you to define your own career by starting in any discipline, want to start you career in endurance racing? Then jump straight in, it’s much better than having to race with cars you aren’t getting on with. There is nothing to stop you starting at the bottom and working your way up though, in fact there are some historic goals that include that very challenge.
Each discipline requires you to learn the ropes all over again, first you need to master the vehicles themselves, and with races over 100 courses and 30 locations you’ll eventually remember how each course handles. The GOTY Edition introduces the Nurburgring Combined Nordschieife & GP circuit, which is one of my favourite tracks to drive, stressful as it is!
More improvements have been made to the controls, I don’t own a steering wheel so I have to use a controller, I always found the cars to be too twitchy but it’s clear work has been done to improve this area, I’m not also using an Elite controller which probably helps. Mastering Project CARS requires patience and a fair bit of crashing too, the screenshot below shows just what happens when you get a bit too big for your boots in the touring cars!
Project CARS has been created for racing fans and it’s easy to see the work that has gone into it, the menus are simple and easy to get around, and there is a huge amount of options to customise your experience. As well as the standard driving aids you can edit a whole host of options to improve how the controller handles the game and also edit how the weather impacts your view when driving. There are too many options to list but you can see that everything has been thought of to ensure a brilliant experience for racing fans. Over 60 community liveries have been added for you to use on the different vehicles in the game.
The weather customization in races is brilliant. You are given four slots to choose an exact weather type or let the game randomise it for you. You can customise the speed of how quickly the weather changes during the race and it makes a huge difference out on the track. Speeding around Silverstone in a huge downpour is a real challenge as is trying to navigate heavy fog as 20 other Formula 1 cars are all jostling for pace. The courses look great, especially combined with the lighting effects from the weather.
There is a brilliant range of views to drive in. My favourite so far is the in-helmet view of the driver, it’s brilliant, but takes some getting used to. If that doesn’t suit you there are plenty of other views to cycle through, it’s worth going through them to see what suits you best. Another well thought out feature is the ability to customise the HUD. You can have as much or as little information on screen. The audio is superb, the cars all sound incredible, and the weather effects create a brilliant atmosphere. I love picking up on subtle soundbytes in games so it was great picking up announcements in the stands as you race past them. It’s a shame that the frame rate on the Xbox creates some nasty sound lag which causes an unfortunate distraction when racing.
Originally the AI was a bit of a mixed bag, some of the decisions the drivers made caused some calamitous situations, but thankfully it seems that tweaks have been made to improve the realism of racing against the AI. Project CARS is the most authentic racing game I’ve played in a long time so I found it quite frustrating that there aren’t animations in the pit lanes, especially as the developers are trying to make this as real as possible.
As fun as it is to race the AI, there is nothing like getting online with your friends. Project CARS does a superb job of getting you online, races are fully customisable and even lets you fill the remainder of the room with AI, I noticed no lag while playing online and look forward to lording it over my mates on race nights. There are also community events that allow you to challenge other driver’s times across the world. If that isn’t your thing, then you can take part in time trials or just practice in the car and course of your choice.
Having spent time with other racing titles in the past year it’s fair to say that Project CARS is still the top Racing Simulator. The huge amount of improvements have really helped and the amount of content that has been pushed out since the games release has been excellent. If you were never sure about the game, now is the time to spend some time with it.