PROJECT CARS 2
Jumping in the front seat for this speedlicious sequel
PublisheR Bandai Namco Developer Slightly Mad Studios Format Xbox One ETA 2017
Videogames should be fun. It’s a controversial position, we know, but we just can’t help but go all gooey for the ones that want to show us a good time. That doesn’t mean we’re not up for being challenged along the way, of course, but it’s always more enjoyable when we’re not grimacing, shouting or, you know, miserable.
That awkward disconnect between challenge and enjoyment has long been an aspect of simulation games – and, indeed, many of the games that sit further from the sim end of the spectrum but still embrace the same ethos – and has ironically pushed some of the racing games which cherish authenticity furthest from the real experience of driving.
Tarmac circuits aren’t slicked in oil, after all, and for the most part real cars are surprisingly forgiving on track, even at speed. They’re fun to hustle, and most mistakes will just result in a slower lap time rather than an out-of-control spin into the nearest indestructible barrier. That sense of fun is what Slightly Mad is attempting to capture with Project Cars 2. Setting out in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 on Fuji Speedway, the difference is immediately obvious as we find ourselves ramping up the speed we take each corner after an initially nervous foray into some of the tighter
“It’s the largest track roster of any racing game, with 50 locations and 200 routes”
turns. Rather than pinwheel off the track, the car feeds back how much grip we have, the tyres individually squeal in protest depending on how much load they’re dealing with, and GT3 stays planted all the way around.
Traditionalists and hardcore racing sim fans may cry foul, but this isn’t a dumbing down. A new tyre physics model makes Projects Cars 2’ s approximation of rubber contact patches the most realistic yet, while Livetrack 3.0 brings similarly advanced surface deformation and changing driving conditions to the tarmac itself, allowing for dirt and gravel to be brought onto the track after excursions beyond the rumble strips. This in turn changes the grip conditions on the next time round.
And all of this is before you add in a dynamic weather system – allied to seasonal and time-of-day changes which mean you race on any track in any conditions – which can unleash enough rain to turn that dirt into mud. Better still, different surfaces will react realistically to heavy downfalls, with grass verges absorbing only so much water before saturation causes runoff and, subsequently, pooling on-track. Thanks to Slightly Mad’s obsessive track modelling, the resultant puddles occur exactly where they would in real life, and the studio has even created drainage systems.
Because this is a sequel, Slightly Mad have has to up its game from the original Project Cars, but the studio have gone above and beyond when it comes to expanding. The game features the largest track roster of any console racing game to date – more than 200 routes set in around 50 locations – and more than 200 cars to fling around them. Already confirmed are Daytona Speedway and the Circuit of the Americas. Another big addition is loose-surface racing, which includes dirt, gravel and ice along with a selection of new driving disciplines to showcase them, including a Rallycross mode that will go head-to-head with Dirt 4’ s offering. There’s an increased focus on online play and eSports, too, with drivers gaining licences that reflect their skill and behaviour on track. These will be
used for multiplayer matchmaking.
You won’t lose out if you’re playing on an Xbox One controller, either. The new game will include a revamped control system that the developers say will help players who don’t own an expensive steering wheel controller hit apexes and set record times.
This is a colossal project that looks set to offer substantially more than the first game. It keeps many of its predecessor’s best aspects while building on others. Project Cars 2 has a very real shot at leading the pack when it releases later this year.
“This colossal project looks set to offer substantially more than the first game”
right New racing classes are being added, including Rallycross and Indycar races.
Bottom With over 200 cars to try, you can test out your dream machines.
below There we were, observing the speed limit, when this dude undertook. Tsk.