180 cars, 130 authentic tracks, 29 motorsport series, all across 60 venues. This is Project CARS 2, the most serious racer I have played in years. To think that this mammoth of a game came from a small Kickstarter back in the day and has evolved into such an exhilarating experience that it has now set the bar for simulation racers in years to come. Project CARS 2 means business and its presence can be felt from the moment you boot up the game, right into the late nights as I sat for hours playing custom races to test out new pre-sets and settings. Slightly Mad Studios have created a master racing game that is both stunning to look at and extremely hard to master.
Those of you that have played the original game will be familiar with the layout of Project CARS 2. The game is divided in various modes such as a single player campaign, online multiplayer, community, and of course custom races. The single-player mode plays out very much the same as the first game whereas you start off as a kart racer and work your way up the ranks and car classes to a master driver. In Project CARS 2 you can now skip the boring, yet challenging intro races and dive right into the cars if you want to, while this does not affect your reputation in any way, it just means you will be able to drive the fastest cars earlier as you will not need to participate in the rookie races.
Custom races are, well, custom races that let you configure everything under the sun. From the car, track, location, even the time of day on a specific date of a specific year. This is where Project CARS stood out for me the most by allowing me to recreate classic racing scenarios using the game's advanced time system, and I am glad it is back in the second instalment. On that note, the custom races are probably my favourite part of the game, and it should be any player's too, given the sheer amount of customization you can perform in a race.
Apart from the time, the weather in Project CARS 2 is dynamic and ready to challenge you in ways you have never been challenged before. It was a thrill sitting in custom games and putting the weather on the worst possible scenarios. Rain, dust, wind, even snow and ice all present new ways to race and they are all unique and require you to know your car and how to control it in different circumstances.
Last but not least you have the online portion, which offers new modes to play and even official competitions that will take place throughout the game. Online was as good as I expected with a flawless experience and some exciting modes to dive into. You can create public lobbies to join with friends, and jump into ranked-like races to earn some reputation for your Driver Network Profile. Whatever your wish for online, it is available to take advantage of and when you combine the epic tracks, cars, and of course settings as well as dynamic weather into an online mode, the results are fantastic.
The cars in Project CARS 2 range from all eras and all types too. Sports cars, off-road, and not to forget the karts too. If you have a car preference in life, the game has it for you. Each and every vehicle also looks stunning and the sheer amount of attention to detail is truly a landmark for the series. We then, again, add in the dynamic weather, and unique game lighting, to create gorgeous photo opportunities for every vehicle in the game.
Project CARS 2 has ample content, so much so that there were times where I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of tracks, cars, and settings I could choose from. Project CARS 2 is also very tough, and if you think this is even close to an arcade racer then think again. It literally took me a few hours to get used to the game's braking, control, and overall driving system as this is no Forza Horizon 3.
Mastering every aspect of the car was a tedious process and definitely not something you would do in real life, but the idea that there are these technical sides to track racing makes the experience worth it. Knowing when to release the brakes in order to turn the bend and when to accelerate enough to follow through with the car staying as straight as possible was rewarding after I wrapped my head around why it is a tried and tested process.
If you are bad at it, you will do badly and that is the thing about Project CARS 2. There is no rewind button so you need to make sure you get your braking, steering, and overall control of your car in check in order to keep your four wheels on the track. In the end, it all boils down to physics and how the world around you is affecting your car's performance and control in Project CARS 2. It is all about fast reflexes and wrapping your head around how fast you are going, where you are racing, and how much you understand about your car's specs.
After I mastered the game, or mastered to some degree, in my opinion, I felt that I had a new outlook on racing simulators. While Project CARS 2 is very hard, its mechanics all add up to delivering a new industry standard. Cars feel great, they sound amazing, and the game is brought to life thanks to all this together on the track.
Racing enthusiasts will love Project CARS 2. While it is hard to master, it tests your knowledge and skills at a racing simulator and after a few hours, you will be knee deep in gorgeous visuals, cars, and a new knack for driving.
Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PC | Played On: PS4 Pro| Release Date: 22 September 2017 | RRP: R1069
This review was based on a review copy of the game provided to us by Megarom Interactive