Project Cars Review (Xbox One)
Remember when racing games used to be hard? When every twitch of the stick (or D-Pad at the time) had to be pinpoint? When a bump with the barriers or an opponent would actually ruin your entire race? Well Slightly Mad Studios remembers. Project Cars is a game for pure racing fans. Punishing but rewarding.
Xbox gamers have been blind to real racing simulators for some time now. Sure there is the Forza franchise, great games in their own right, but are they true simulators? There’s no real competition in the market either, at least not since Project Gotham Racing (PGR) 4 back in 2007! So Project Cars really is a welcome addition to an Xbox gamers racing library. Yet at the same time, they should feel let down by it.
The Xbox One version is supposedly the weakest, and it tells. You will experience audio stuttering, frame drops, strange lighting through trees and shit grass, to name a few issues. But you will also experience some really nice lens flares and sun shafts, a fantastic feedback system to the controller (trust me, when you lose a wheel the controller will let you know!) and great graphics from the cars in a multitude of camera views. The in helmet cam is a favourite. Not only is it a great view with the interior of the car in perfect detail and the sounds ever so slightly muffled, but the driver naturally turns his head towards the touching point of a corner, right around the moment you should be hitting the brakes. It’s the most immersive racing experience I’ve tried yet.
The reason Project Cars will keep you hooked on playing it is that while it offers a racing simulation environment on track; with full practice, qualifying and race events, it wraps it all up into seasons with a progression ladder to be climbed across the span of your career. The ladder covers different disciplines too. You can work your way up from Karting to Formula A, from Touring Cars through to GT1. Or you can switch disciplines each season, or even just jump straight in at the top tier. There are a host of special invite only events that you can unlock based on your performance too, just to add some variation. There are three Historic Goals set out in the game for you to aim for, which also encourages you to try a few different career paths (though all three can be achieved in a single career).
Online events car be tuned to how you want to play. Set up some quick sprint races, or go for the full race weekend simulation. It can get a little silly though as you might end up jumping into someone else’s event to find they’ve setup a thirty minute qualifying session for a four lap race!
Both your online and offline stats are wrapped up into your driver profile, which gives you a full breakdown of how you perform in each discipline. If you weren’t sure where you best performed, your driver profile will make it apparent to you, showing how many races you’ve taken part in and how many of those you have won, all displayed in the games very nice UI menus. The UI is worth another mention for during a race. You can toggle through a variety of hub options using the Dpad, including bringing up full telemetry data. The information is so well presented it helped me realise that I have a faulty controller!
There is a lot to like here, but in the Xbox One version at least there are also a lot of little niggles that let Project Cars down. Being able to simulate parts of an event is a nice touch, especially when you have a stable lead half way through a race you can leave it to the AI to “bring it home.” But there’s no way to simulate the rest of a special event if you join it and realise it’s not your cup of tea. Some of the disciplines won’t suit you, and these will feel like a grind if you end up in one for a special or online event. More could be done with the team radio; It is good in parts, offering words of encouragement, but it could also be more useful in advising when would be the best time to pit, or what the weather is supposed to be doing as it can change a lot during a race. But then the changeable weather is another really good feature of the game. However, the bugs are there, and if I didn’t complain about them here then we’d have to change the sites name!
Still, it’s the most fun I’ve had around Donington since TOCA 2
7 disappointed drivers still having a lot of fun out of 10