Rac­ing cham­pi­onship con­tender for the fast and the cu­ri­ous

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Paul tay­lor

We’re for­ever bang­ing on about emer­gent game­play. The stuff that hap­pens in games when you least ex­pect it, events that go be­yond the cod­ing and what is ‘sup­posed’ to hap­pen and in­stead cre­ate sto­ries that are unique to you. Project Cars 2, an ex­act­ing, task­ing, rac­ing game, is one of the very best ex­am­ples.

It’s also a ter­rific se­quel. Any mis­giv­ings you had about the first game – no­tably its twitchy han­dling, and lack of per­son­al­ity – should be thrown out in the pits. Out of the box and on de­fault set­tings, Project

Cars 2 is far more ap­proach­able with a con­troller, and when you get to a point where you dare race in any­thing but blaz­ing sun­shine on a clear day, it shows off what it’s re­ally ca­pa­ble of.

In fact, you’re wast­ing your time if you don’t ex­per­i­ment with the weather and time set­tings. Noth­ing else comes close to show­ing off how rain and snow, and even the po­si­tion of the sun, can re­ally med­dle with your race plans, and im­pact the course of an ingame week­end, mak­ing a story that’s unique to you.

The car se­lec­tion, track­list and race types are as­tound­ing. Road rac­ing, cir­cuits, ut­terly as­ton­ish­ing ice tracks and ral­ly­cross are all here. Over 180 cars from karts to F1, and more than 190 cir­cuit lay­outs that span the globe. Only Turn 10’s Forza Mo­tor­sport

7 dares to come close on num­bers. Cars can be tweaked and tuned as much as you’d like, and while a de­gree in me­chan­ics would serve you well, a race en­gi­neer poses sim­ple ques­tions to help you mod­ify the car to how you want it to be.

Time can be ac­cel­er­ated or left to play out in real time. You could start a race in the pre-dawn light, then drive through the day un­til the stars come out and you’re left to look into the apex with your beams on full.

Hav­ing a blast

It’s im­por­tant to stress that this is a game about mo­tor­sport rather than sim­ply rac­ing, and while you can dip in and out for a one-off blast, you’re best served by de­vot­ing a good cou­ple of hours to sink into qual­i­fy­ing and rac­ing on your cho­sen dis­ci­pline. Each car is deeply nu­anced and de­mands not only pa­tience to pi­lot, but that you di­vorce fun from suc­cess.

Where other rac­ing games will shower you with re­wards to col­lect – new cars, more money, bet­ter parts, XP – Project Cars 2 is best when you re­alise you’re learn­ing some­thing new and that you’re im­prov­ing. All that mat­ters is your fi­nal po­si­tion, and there’s no pro­gres­sion with­out demon­strat­ing ap­ti­tude. Thank­fully it’s all mal­leable, and we turned the dif­fi­culty down and (slowly) back up through­out the course of our ca­reer to progress. What’s re­ally de­light­ful is that the lower-specced cars of­fer as much, if not more, tan­gi­ble fun and sense of ac­com­plish­ment than the higher-pow­ered ve­hi­cles.

All this cus­tomi­sa­tion comes at a cost of tech­ni­cal per­for­mance. While the fram­er­ate gen­er­ally hov­ers around 60fps, it does no­tice­ably dip, with frame-tear­ing thrown in too. All that came af­ter we down­loaded a weighty 11.2GB pre-re­lease patch, and so we’re won­der­ing if this’ll be fixed.

Any­one who wants a chal­lenge, to race and re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the way ve­hi­cles han­dle and re­spond in mixed mo­tor­sports, should look no fur­ther. De­void of gim­micks, Project Cars 2 is in­tim­i­dat­ingly deep but of­fers more than most rac­ing games pre­tend to.

“You’re wast­ing your time if you don’t ex­per­i­ment with weather”

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