PROJECT CARS 2
Racing championship contender for the fast and the curious
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”