Project CARS 2 review - the prettiest racing game, but is it the best?

Author: DM
Date: 2017-09-19 15:00:00
The review was based on the PC version. Also applies to PS4, XONE versions

I once heard a story about an unlucky buyer of a Mercedes SLS AMG, which was until recently the company's flagship sports car. This particular specimen turned out to be faulty and something was notoriously broken in it, and the mechanics could not live up to the task and remove the defects for good. In the moments when it all worked, the merc was perfection on wheels, incredibly fast, beautiful and with the divine sound of a V8 engine. However, frequent failures turned the pleasure of driving into a streak of frustration and nerves. I had exactly the same mood swing with the PC version of Projectu CARS 2 by Slightly Mad.

On the one hand, this is a brilliant production, with almost photorealistic graphics and rich content. It is a real temple for any car sports fan, for anyone who knows what Eau Rouge, Nordschleife, Rouen or Masta are. Project CARS 2 gives you a sense of what it's like to take your first steps in a racing career, what it's like to climb faster and faster and what it was like back then, in the 1960s and beyond. This is a developed version of the previous version, richer in content, but unfortunately also in errors. Not some big bugs that prevent you from playing, but the worse ones - minor, annoying, pointless, suddenly fun and far too frequent.

Racing seriously

Project CARS 2 is not played, Project CARS 2 is ridden! As in the case of the first part, there is no room for anything absent in reality. We do not improve our car, we do not earn virtual cash, there are no mini-games in the form of passing goals or posts (which makes driving in F1 2017 more pleasant). As in sports, everything is about a racing weekend: two practice sessions, qualifying and competition. Even the available cars are, for the most part, special racing cars. A single player career consists of a series of stages repeated over and over again, interrupted from time to time by invitation races - we usually get into a car of a specific make or other class of vehicles.

For it only here can we experience the path that many true champions of steering have followed - from the beginnings of karts, through city cars and the Renault formula, to Gran Turismo cars and super-fast LMP and IndyCar cars. An important novelty in Project CARS 2 are rallycross competitions - these are not real rallies on stages, but it must be admitted that short races on mud or ice are a nice change after kilometers of asphalt tracks and it is worth considering them during your career.

Remember that the only reward here is the fight on the track, correcting the lap times and ... the trophy system for a given platform - all cars and routes are immediately available and we do not have to unlock anything . There is also no virtual garage and collecting the next four wheels, which not every racing enthusiast may like.

Sometimes sun, sometimes rain

Fortunately, you don't have to be a fan awaiting Eurosport broadcast from the Touring Car World Championship to appreciate Project CARS 2 racing. Thanks to the proprietary LiveTrack 3.0 system, the track and its surroundings "live" not only during the race, but also according to the calendar. Probably even in Forza Horizon 3 there is no such realistic lighting, depending on the time of day and the degree of cloudiness. Everything looks incredibly natural and smooth - tiny, white clouds appear gradually to cover the entire sky above the selected part of the route in a dozen or so laps. When the drizzle turns into a downpour, the water even fills the ruts in the sandy shoulders, and small fountains rise from under the wheels.

Already in the first part, the attention to detail emphasized the fact that in winter it was dark in Europe at the same time as it actually was. Now, during races in the fall, the trees have a brown-orange shade, in summer - lush green, and in winter, a fine mist above the ground signals a negative temperature. On each element of the track environment: railing, curb, billboard, you can see the effects of time and weather conditions. All the graphics of the race and the quality of textures on PCs make a really stunning impression , like Ethan Carter's Vanishing . Only the fog effect needs to be refined, which with such a well-made rest is a bit too artificial, there was also a problem with shadow flickering on my computer.

I'm not going without a manager!

Great graphics deepen the immersion and the feeling of authenticity of the competition, but the most important thing is the ride itself. In this respect, not much has changed since the beta. At first glance, everything is fine - cold tires do not give traction, wear out quickly when mistreated, sometimes the rear of the car escapes. Still, only some cars seem to have a fine-tuned control model and you actually feel that you are driving a rear-wheel drive monster of several hundred horsepower. The rest are assigned some default scheme , which leaves a huge margin for errors and does not require special attention (of course, despite the disabled traction control and ABS). This can be seen especially with the old Lotus cars, which should try to kill us at every turn, and here they go like on rails.

Project CARS 2 is definitely not a racing game where you can control the keyboard. I mean, it's possible, but the experience is more or less like playing a StarCraft network match with a joypad. The authors fulfilled their promises and really re-designed the control for the second controller, which in practice means a relatively comfortable ride with the default settings (in the previous installment you had to download the "ready" from the network with modified sensitivity and dead zones values so that using it does not was a torment).

But even the controller from the Xbox One, with all these motors and vibrations, is not able to provide the experience we will experience when switching to the steering wheel. Then a completely new dose of sensations awaits us. The force feedback mechanism allows you to feel the impact of at least one wheel on a curb or grass, and when driving a hard IndyCar car on the Indianapolis track, you can feel every unevenness of the surface. Hand in hand with this are great sound effects . In addition to the thoroughbred, throbbing engine purr - completely different for every vehicle - you can even hear individual tires when they lose traction and begin to squeal.

Driving blind

In this part of the game, the computer-controlled players were able to set their speed and aggression, but this translated into a much weaker feeling than in the first CARS Project . The AI is now shooting blindly through the track , ramming us from behind not only in front of the corners, but also on the straights, when it gains speed faster at higher settings. Drivers' struggles with each other look no better. The attacks are always some kind of artificial, zero ones - there is no finesse, no naturalness in it, only blind pushing , and on the ovals of almost 40 cars he can still drive a goose. Here again Project CARS 2 clearly lags behind F1 2017 .

Project CARS 2 had a chance to be an almost perfect title, with its dazzling setting and enormous freedom to set up virtually every, smallest option in the game - from driving position to time, location, weather and facilitating the race. It is currently the only series on the market that refers to the old, recognized racing simulators , such as NASCAR 2003 , Grand Prix Legends or GTR - without any frills or drawing boxes with 300 cars to collect. With its quite forgiving physics inherited from the SHIFT series, Project CARS 2 is like an introduction to the world of sim-racing, the first step that should be completed, even before entering the subscription system in iRacing .