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Posted July 21, 2017 by Daniel Kizana in Feature
 
 

Project Cars 2 Hands-On Preview


2015’s Project CARS, or Community Assisted Racing Simulator, stands as an example of what can happen when a passionate, well organised community comes together behind a project. Largely crowdfunded, and developed with constant community feedback, Project CARS became a breath of fresh air for the largely stagnant racing genre, and has been lauded for it’s visual fidelity and accuracy in simulation.

It may be time, though, to shift our perception of Slightly Mad Studios from that of an independent, community-assisted developer to a full blown, AAA company, because Project CARS 2 is shaping up to be the most significant racing title in years. Andrew previewed an early build back in February, so I was keen to get my hands on a near-complete build of the game with every car, track and option unlocked for testing.

 

 

Full Disclosure: I am not a ‘car guy’. One time, I forgot that manual cars have a clutch, and almost slammed my mate’s Mazda into a wall because ‘THE BRAKES AREN’T WORKING!’ So, when sat behind the wheel of a racing simulator, I felt completely out of my depth, like one of those monkeys they sent into space.

As such, my first lap in Project CARS 2 was absolutely abysmal, and I sent the heavily modified Porsche 911 spinning more than once. The helpful Race Engineer AI radioed in, politely (but firmly) letting me know to take it easy because the tyres and brakes were cold. By the time I had acclimatised to the sensitivity of steering at high speeds, my tyres were too flat, prompting the AI to suggest a pit stop at the end of the lap. At this point, I was glad I’d set the weather to ‘Sunny’; I wouldn’t have handled the wet.

After browsing an exhaustive list of the most admired race tracks in the world, I settled into somewhat of a groove racing at Daytona International Speedway, which I picked for its simplicity and lack of tight corners. The roster of vehicles on offer is also enormous and, although not an expert, I was unable to think of a major manufacturer that hadn’t been represented, with the exception of Holden. I chose a Ford V8 Supercar and immediately felt at home as the huge engine growled and rumbled in my ears. I’m not going to lie and say I won the race, but I felt like I was competing well, and I had so much fun with the paddle-shifters that I really didn’t care what I placed. From L-Plater to Competitor in under thirty minutes; no one can argue that Project Cars 2 is inaccessible, even for all it’s depth.

 

 

My experience is proof that Project CARS 2 is not just an arcade racing game; it is a meticulously designed and incredibly complex motor-sport simulator that demands your full attention just to complete your first lap, let alone the dedication that would be required to master the more difficult tracks and powerful cars. To aid in the learning process, Project Cars 2 will also include a detailed career mode, affording fans of the sport an opportunity to rise from local Go Karting hero all the way to Le Mans.

I haven’t even touched on the graphics yet, which, as you can already tell from the screenshots, are bordering on photo-realism. Project Cars 2 looks so good, I’d wager that a side by side comparison with actual racing footage would fool the majority of non-gamers. I was lucky to preview the title on a mind-blowing 12k, 3-monitor setup. The experience was so immersive that my stomach would sink and my arms would tense up whenever I crashed, like the feeling you get just before a real car accident. Slightly Mad Studios have set a new standard of realism in gaming. I urge you to see it in motion, when you get a chance.

 

Let me tell you, racing fan or not, it is an absolute thrill to belt a Ferrari around Bathurst, with the snow and rain slamming into your windscreen and near blinding you before the wipers make another pass. I have a feeling that if you aren’t already a racing enthusiast, Project CARS 2 will turn you into one when it releases on the 22nd of September.


Daniel Kizana

 


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