Project CARS: Game of the Year Edition PC Review

It has been a year since the visual stunning Project CARS made its splash into the simulation side of racing games for anyone with a PC, Xbox One or PS4, who enjoys putting time into the Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo franchises. It had a huge teasing lead-up until its release, with people jumping into the founder’s program being able to play the game for a good couple of years before the final release date, releasing gorgeous screenshots and videos of the game, while giving the developers ideas on how to improve it. After multiple patches and a flow of downloadable content within its first year, it looks like Project CARS is coming to an end, and with Project CARS 2 already announced last year – probably due next year or the year after – this Game of the Year Edition is a brilliant package to pick up for anyone who missed this deep and demanding racing game the first time round.

This GOTY Edition is truly aimed for the newcomers. It’s a collection of all the downloadable content bundled in with the main game. This means the 50 plus new cars, four new tracks and the huge patch updates that have been coming throughout the year fixing or adding over 500 things (the improved rain with dynamic rivulets made for some cool viewing of wet tarmac), while also throwing in two new cars from Zonda manufacturer, Pagani, and the Nurburgring Nordschleife combined with the Grand Prix layout to bring the full experience of that already lengthy track. Existing users shouldn’t worry about missing out on any content, as these can be bought through a upgrade to the GOTY Edition for a cheap price.

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For the newcomers, especially the ones who don’t often play games aimed at a simulation approach, might find Project CARS to offer a true challenge with its handling. This is a game that highlights your mistakes in driving a car, an unforgiving experience that tests your ability to drive good and fast. You can’t simply tap brake and drift around corners here, even when some of the drive assists are on, such as braking and stability control, these won’t save you if you don’t know how to take corners in your current racing vehicle. That said, there is a lot of customisation to fine tune the difficulty of everything around driving. Can’t seem to race fast enough? Then knock the AI difficulty slider down a little – scales from 0 to 100, just to give you an idea of the range available – then get to grips with the discipline and up the difficulty when feeling comfortable to up the challenge.

Project CARS promotes learning and understanding what each setting does on a car. While you can’t do anything fancy, such as upgrading cars with turbos or switching out an entire engine with another, you can tune the vehicles with an in-depth settings option that makes a difference depending on the track and weather. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can ignore it and still race fine, although I do advise to go into the options for anyone using a controller, as the default controller options aren’t the best. This is one of my few gripes with the game, it doesn’t move its handling engine to a controller as well as something like Forza Motorsport or Dirt Rally, meaning you have to dig in deep with the controller options to find what is comfortable for you. Driving never quite hits the easiness of something like Forza Motorsport, but that does give Project CARS its personality, its character to demand more from the player, making them have to focus throughout the race or face creating a mistake and going off the track. No rewinds will save you here, only a complete restart of the race.

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One thing Project CARS does well is the freedom to approach its career mode how you want. There are no unlocks here, nothing to hinder progression, everything is free to use from the get go – no cash or levels block access – so if the idea of progression is something you need in your games, then Project CARS will leave you feeling empty. The flip side is that the game allows you to start anywhere in the career with any car available, giving people the opportunity to jump straight in and drive their favourite vehicle. The option is there to start from the bottom, racing through the low tier kart racing, then moving up to GT or open-wheel racing, then finishing off in the big leagues with the powerful Le Mans Prototype racing beasts. Finishing a season allows one to jump to a different tier or repeat the season if you enjoyed racing in it. There are accolades (achievements) built into the career that ask players to win specific events and championships, which might help people who want a target to aim for in career mode. It’s entirely down the player how they want to play this game, making it a great time for anyone who wants to put 20 hours in or 200 hours into racing luscious cars in its varied career mode, or with friends or random people in an online environment of up to 32 people.

This game is simply a visual treat, not just for sharing car porn – even though those cars look spectacular inside and out, and the handling model means that driving each one feels different to control – but the visual communication that is visible with the track detail. It’s a pretty racing game with an amazing use of a dynamic day/night and weather system. It might be a lovely sunset, with the beams of the sun hanging over the horizon, causing a romantic bloom over the track, but then later in the race, the clouds might come in and spoil the track with a dose of rain, not to mention the chance of leading into a thunderous storm, where torrential rain causes havoc for any cars not equipped with the correct tyres to handle it. Weather and the full 24 hour clock can be set in single race, opening the chance to take that perfect photo in what is only rivalled by Driveclub as one of the most visually striking racing games currently on the market.

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Project CARS: Game of the Year Edition is a great package packed with everything one needs for a thrilling and demanding racing experience, being the perfect jump in point for newcomers to get everything available from the get go. Project CARS offers plenty of open-ended options with its unshackled career mode, deep tuning options for the hardcore drivers and gorgeous visuals met with a lovely weather and day/night cycle, making it a good buy for anyone looking to be challenged by a racing game, one that demands commitment from the player to become fully engaged in each exhilarating race.

 

8 out of 10