Project Cars 2

Treat­ing these mag­nif­i­cent ma­chines with the re­spect they de­serve

PCPOWERPLAY - - Game // Review - AN­THONY FORD­HAM

This

will be the most ex­pen­sive am­a­teur race in his­tory. Thanks to an un­prece­dented level of or­gan­i­sa­tion, in­volv­ing months of lo­gis­tics and tens of mil­lions in ship­ping fees alone, there are now 20 Fer­rari LaFer­raris lined up and ready to an­ni­hi­late 12.83 miles and 107 turns of the Cal­i­for­nia High­way.

As the tree starts to light up, 126 litres of V12 start to scream. Come the greens, we all erupt from the start­ing grid thanks to 900 Nm of elec­tri­callyas­sisted torque, ac­cel­er­ate to 100 km/h in just 2.4 sec­onds - and then all slam into the bar­rier as we reach the first left-han­der.

There’s a huge tan­gle of LaFer­aris. Sil­ver ones, yel­low ones, ones clearly cov­ered in vinyl wrap for the race since Fer­rari would never let one of these cars be painted like that. Me, I’m in a red one.

“CON­TACT Lap Time in­val­i­dated” says the an­noy­ing yel­low AR sigil in the cor­ner of my vi­sion. I care not. I haul the wheel around and mash the ac­cel­er­a­tor. The shift-lights flicker con­stantly as the seven-speed du­al­clutch auto strug­gles to make sense of the data the roughly nine thou­sand com­put­ers dis­trib­uted around the car are feed­ing it.

A mere seven or eight sec­onds later, we all get our noses pointed in roughly the same di­rec­tion, and wig­gle on down the road. Just as we’re all hit­ting 120, a hair­pin right comes up and we all slam into the bar­rier again.

The noise is ter­rific. Not a screech­ing of me­tal, as such, but the much more ex­pen­sive, splin­ter­ing sort of noise you get from car­bon fi­bre as it shat­ters. On we go, bang­ing and scrap­ing our way to­ward the fin­ish line, now only 12.74 miles dis­tant.

This is a point-to-point race, the kind of road that re­ally makes the LaFer­rari shine. I as­sume. I mean, if I could drive this thing with any skill, and if Project Cars 2 and its in­cred­i­ble level of de­tail wasn’t con­stantly mak­ing it ex­tremely ob­vi­ous that an Xbox One con­troller ain’t gonna win me no races. This kind of dance needs a proper wheel.

Even­tu­ally though, the road widens out enough for us to put a lit­tle space be­tween each car. We rocket through a bunch of tight chi­canes and man­age a cou­ple of hair­pins with­out touch­ing the bar­ri­ers. Tun­nels come and go, mo­men­tar­ily block­ing out the cheer­ful, late af­ter­noon sun. It’s 1800h, and if I man­aged to set up the weather prop­erly, that means any sec­ond now…

Ah yes. Here it is. Pre­cisely one third of the dis­tance through the race, thick driv­ing snow re­duces vis­i­bil­ity to yards, and now we’re push­ing 200km/h on the bends, tar­mac wet where it isn’t icy.

It’s amaz­ing how lit­tle ef­fect Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres have on a largely fric­tion­less sur­face. We’re driv­ing mostly on an­gu­lar mo­men­tum now, re­ly­ing on the LaFer­rari’s 1585kg kerb

It’s amaz­ing how lit­tle ef­fect Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres have on a largely fric­tion­less sur­face

weight to swing us through the cor­ners af­ter each brief con­tact with dry-ish ground. The “CON­TACT Lap Time in­val­i­dated (sic)” sigil is lit up pretty much per­ma­nently now, so it hardly both­ers me any­more.

Two thirds of the way through the race, right on sched­ule, the bliz­zard gives way to a late sum­mer haze. Sun­light comes blast­ing in at a low an­gle, light­ing up ev­ery scratch on the wind­shield, daz­zling me into a few more lap time in­val­i­da­tions. It’s not the weather ef­fect it­self that’s so im­pres­sive, it’s the tran­si­tion. The snow doesn’t mag­i­cally stop, the grey clouds break up into patches of flick­er­ing sun­light first. Sleet melts and beads on the car, and shin­ing pud­dles span the road in treach­er­ous bands.

We hit a sec­tion of proper free­way, five lanes each way (I think, it’s hard to count at 300km/h). I make up se­ri­ous time, and spin out that prick in the sil­ver car with a quick touch to a rear fen­der. In­cred­i­bly, af­ter spend­ing most of the race in the mid­dle of the pack, I’m mere mil­lisec­onds from plac­ing…

The fi­nal mo­ments hap­pen so fast. We’re scream­ing to­ward the fin­ish, six cars in a tight group. There’s a fi­nal crest and I hit it well over 220. The LaFer­rari flies like a bird, I’ve never had air like this be­fore, it feels like the car will just keep go­ing up.

It doesn’t of course. It hits hard, and if the game mod­elled dam­age prop­erly, I’d prob­a­bly be wear­ing the front shocks as eye­brow pierc­ings. But this IS a game, so I’m able to bounce, and I bounce right over the top of the sec­ond place car to steal his sil­ver at the last pos­si­ble mo­ment.

I miss the top of the podium by just 0.3 of a sec­ond. But as I climb out of the car in tri­umph, a white-faced mar­shal is strid­ing to­ward me shak­ing his fin­ger. “It doesn’t count!” he screams. “You hit the bar­rier! No score for you!”

Be­hind us, some­thing like $40 mil­lion of the pin­na­cle of au­to­mo­tive art hisses and wheezes and col­lapses on shat­tered struts and splin­tered driv­e­trains. I should prob­a­bly have men­tioned at the be­gin­ning that we’re all VERY drunk.

And they call it a bor­ing sim.

Yel­low bas­tard stole my num­ber plate!

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