Chasing Lights: Project CARS Preview

POSTED BY Toby Berger February 10, 2015 in Articles
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Start Your Engines

A few months ago Agus and I had a go at Project CARS and ended up spinning quite a bit. The game was set for a November release at that point and previewed really well but was pushed to March to allow for more fine tuning. I had the opportunity to give the game another test run before launch, and while I was already impressed with how much the game offered, playing a near-complete build showcased how the little tweaks have made Project CARS a racing fans dream.

Graphics certainly play a role in racing games, and with the new crop of consoles mingling their way into the majority of households the expectation for visually stunning vistas and highly detailed car models and tracks has become evident. Technology has reached the stage to allow finite levels of detail, and Project CARS is the most clear-cut example of what a current-gen racer should look like. Project CARS is quite simply the most stunning racing game I’ve seen, with its exquisite scenery and incredibly precise track and car designs, I couldn’t help but just admire how damn realistic the game looks. Those with a keen eye for graphical fidelity will have an absolute field day with Project CARS, and if this is any indication of how racing games are going to look this generation, consider me excited.

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The biggest component to a racing game is obviously how the game plays and feels, and Project CARS manages to get the feel between hardcore simulation and arcade racer quite right. CARS is a simulation game first and foremost, with its incredible amount of options to tweak cars, tracks, weather and everything in between, but it also manages to tweak the gameplay enough to allow players who aren’t necessarily into simulation racers to also have fun and enjoy themselves. I’ve never been a massive fan of the simulation racer and usually only dabble in arcade-styled racing games, but CARS strikes the perfect balance between going all in and tweaking every little element of the gameplay or just picking a car, a track, and going from there. This versatility enables the game to appeal to just about everyone and even those who don’t predominantly play racing games can have a go with a few presses of a button.

“Project CARS strikes the perfect balance between going all in and tweaking every little element of the gameplay or just picking a car, a track, and going from there.”

When the green light actually hits and the cars get moving, it’s all a bit of a learning experience. Project CARS punishes you for being impatient and reckless, and spinning out can become a routine if you’re used to playing like you’re from the Fast and Furious franchise. Learning to pick the right moments to go all in is what Project CARS is all about, and there’s a rewarding feeling when a podium finish is achieved. Sometimes positions rarely change throughout a race, and driving with precision is one of the key factors to keeping on the road and in a good position for the finish line.

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Project CARS prides itself on realism and hones in on the finite details, whether it’s the weather, the scenery around the track or the vehicles themselves during a race. In our August preview, I wrote about how grass can affect your car and cause you to spin out and how that managed to be my downfall more often than not. This time, I hopped in a high-powered car after using a Mitsubishi Lancer and with a taste for speed I hit the accelerator as soon as I got the green lights, which led to (even more) spinning out within four seconds of the race starting. CARS is all about a measured approach with the high powered vehicles, but even that lesson didn’t stop me from spinning out a few more times in the race when I attempted to catch up to the rest of the pack. Project CARS punishes you for being reckless and impatient, and it makes the game that much more enjoyable because it becomes more of a learning experience than anything else.

One of the most impressive things about Project CARS is the vast amount of customizable options that are available at your fingertips. From 30 – 40 player races and dynamic weather settings, to the absolute finite details of tweaking your vehicle of choice and the vast amount of assistance options – the game prides itself on being the most customizable racer ever, and it really is. The unparalleled amount of options available is still bewildering and can be overwhelming for some, but I can see fans spending hours upon hours customizing every little part of the game to their liking. For the majority of the preview I had most of the assists turned on and came second a couple of times and last a few others, but when the time came to test my skills and turn all of the assists off, I found that I actually enjoyed myself even more because I had to rely on my decisions and instincts to not completely crash and burn. I still came last in the race, but I felt accomplished because I didn’t manage to spin out at all. The ability to tweak and change every little detail in Project CARS makes it an experience that will keep a hold of fans for long hours, whether it’s such a drastic change in assistance settings, or adjusting the number of cars racing or how the weather changes during the race, it all combines together to add a staggering amount of replay value and absolute customization.

I spent around two hours with Project CARS and was incredibly impressed with how well it’s all coming together. The slight tweaking Slightly Mad Studios has done has made Project CARS an experience that racing fans will want to keep coming back to, and even those who don’t play racing games regularly can jump into and start having fun with. From what I’ve played, it has a near-perfect amount of balance between a simulation racer and an arcade racer, alleviating the need for hours upon hours of grinding to start getting the most out of it. The customization options are superb, the graphics are phenomenal and this could well be the next big racer and the game racing fans have been dreaming of for years. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Project CARS will be launching on the 19th of March for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. A Wii U version is also in the works with no set release date.

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