|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Dev: Slightly Mad Studios|
|Pub: Bandai Namco Entertainment|
|Release: August 28, 2020|
|Players: Local Single Player, Online multiplayer PVP|
|Screen Resolution: 1080p-4K||This is a racing simulation game in which players can drive a variety of cars on real-world tracks.|
by CheatCC Team
Admittedly, this is the first Project Cars game that I’ve played, but I do love driving games. There’s just something about being able to jump into cars that I’d typically never be able to afford and have a little fun. Whether it’s Forza, Gran Turismo, and even Drive Club, it’s all in good fun. And all the better when it’s on at least tracks that I’ve seen on shows like Top Gear and The Grand Tour. After all, when you’ve watched enough of the episodes, it’s almost like you can hear Clarkson, May, and Hammond commentating when you’re going too slow or when something’s gone a bit pear-shaped.
Now, there is quite a bit to talk about, but first I’ll preface this with the fact that I was playing on Xbox One. I know that the team was holding multiplayer sessions on Steam and PS4 at different points of August 23, but I must’ve had the dumb luck of no one of the dev team running some multiplayer sessions in the Xbox ecosystem at the times that I was trying or no other reviewers were trying to test out Xbox multiplayer alongside me. So, since there is no cross-platform play (arguably the one weakness I could find), I can’t speak toward the multiplayer experience beyond at least trying out qualifying runs for scheduled events. I am willing to write a follow up once the game is live to the public and more Xbox players are jumping on and creating lobbies and events.
With that out of the way, we can talk about everything else that Project Cars has to offer. And, for the petrolhead games out there, good lord. There is a lot to look forward to. First, we can talk about the user experience (at least outside of races). For newcomers willing to try out the game and veterans alike, there are different skill settings that can be used to either offer as much assistance as you might need or offering you a true pro experience. As you get more comfortable with how the game works, you can turn off any assistances that you might’ve turned on when setting up your game profile. This is adaptive bit of quality-of-life design makes the game accessible while also offering more challenge right from the outset for the daring newcomer or the experienced Project Cars player.
You can’t talk about driving or racing games without talking about the cars. And the number of cars is impressive. There are well over 200 cars, which is sure to grow with expansions ranging from regular consumer-class road cars to racecars, each one rendered in beautiful detail. Each car is customizable in a variety of ways so that you could try to make your car stand out a bit on the track. Aside from customizing the look of your cars, each one has both different upgradable components as well as different levels of upgradability for those components. Depending on how you’ve upgraded, this also offers the opportunity for a little pre-race tuning up of the components of your car to try to improve the performance. The people who worked on getting the licensing to recreate these cars and worked on the customization and upgrading part of the game should be applauded for the work that was done.
So, how do we get these 200+ cars? We get credits. If you go through the tutorial race, for which you’re supplied with a car, you are given enough money to buy your first car. Depending on the upgrades you want, you might also be able to purchase some upgrades depending on what your starting car is. After that, any car you purchase will depend on you winning races, meeting challenges, and leveling your profile. The more you level up with a specific car though also makes it cheaper to upgrade that car. So personal experience on the track helps you gain money for cars and upgrades, but what is essentially affinity for specific cars helps make upgrading even easier.
In terms of the tracks and race types, in career mode you gain access in simple ways. Each race as three career goals. The more career goals met, the more career races you unlock. Before you actually get into each race menu, the game takes some panning shots over the landscape and some of the more iconic portions of a track while also showing the general weather, though you can skip over that. The race menu is where you can see the career goals as well as a general track map. You can also see at least the order of the grid placements and what place you’ll be starting in. You’ll also be able to do the pre-race tuning from this menu as well, though options are limited until you’ve started upgrading your car(s).
And naturally, there’s the in-race game. It is a great experience, though not without minor flaws. If you have assistances turned on, your HUD can get cluttered depending on how many you have turned on, how many turns there are, and how quickly they come up. Assists for lower skill level players just adds more to the screen that you need to pay attention to, when it could just be delivered verbally via the pit coach encouraging you through the race. Then again, if you’re a newcomer opting for the assists, after you get comfortable you can turn them off. So this is more of a gripe and a non-issue.
Outside of the small, but adaptable HUD gripe, it’s a very enjoyable experience throughout. Sometimes traction goes a little bit wonky, but bad track conditions (e.g. rain) or accidents as well as mistakes made in tune-ups can affect variety of car performance aspects. Game performance, I haven’t anything wrong, outside of a weird lighting flickering effect on one of the tracks, though that could’ve also just been the TV I was playing on it. The car turning transparent when something’s gone wrong or you’ve incurred a penalty took some getting used, especially when you’ve incurred a penalty, because if you’re unlucky enough for cars to bunched up, you can easily drop from the top 3 into last quickly. I’ve at least three podium finishes stolen from me just like that.
For a car or racing enthusiast, Project Cars 3 has a lot to offer. The depth of customizing, upgrading, and tuning up cars is impressive. The track-time experience is a lot of fun and generally feels realistic. When you pause it to enter “Photo Mode,” there’s also a variety of customization options to capture the drama of a race. The only question I have is how/if they will reoptimize for the next gen consoles. If you’re big on racing games, while it doesn’t really offer much that’s new to the equation, Project Cars 3 is a buy. See you on the track.