Available on PS4 (tested), Xbox One, Wii U and PC
Project Cars release date: March 17 2015
While there’s been a number of racing games launch on new gen consoles in the past year, Need for Speed: Rivals aside, there’s not one cross-platform driving game that has made us want to go back for more.
Project Cars, which launches in March for Xbox One, the PS4, PC and even the Wii U is hoping to change that with the aim of being the most realistic simulation racer you can get your hands on.
Project Cars is competing with the stunning racers like Forza Horizon 2 and DriveClub, and playing it on PS4 I can hands down say it will be the most realistic, and beautiful, racer on the market when it is released.
For my opening race, I found myself in the Dubai Autodrome, wrestling with an Audi R8 in the middle of a thunder storm, with rain pouring down the windscreen in gullies.
The large raindrops drip onto the screen in third person view, making visibility almost impossible for navigating the track.
It was only after I’d struggled around three laps of the GP circuit that it was recommended I avoided racing during the thunderstorms due to the handling not being quite right yet. It did feel like the car was trying to turn corners on a sheet of ice, even at painfully low speeds.
See also: Best Racing Games 2015
The same can be said for other weather types too. I particularly loved driving around the tracks by the light of the setting winter sun; the golden hues painting the sky and highlighting the beauty of the tracks.
Tracks are impressively accurate too. You’ll feel your car picking up some serious pace as you descend the mountain at Bathurst and the thrill of the high speed Curva Grande at Monza.
immense fun trying out the sheer amount of vehicles on offer and
experimenting with the weather and time of day to see how beautiful the
game could really get.
One particular highlight was racing
around Silverstone at night, lit by nothing other than the headlights of
our track day car and our rivals.
The realism is added to by the fact the game has been developed using the expertise of Ben Collins (a.k.a The Stig), Le Mans Series championship leader Oliver Webb and former European Touring Car Cup and Renault Clio Cup racer Nicolas Hamilton (brother of F1 Lewis Hamilton).
See also: Best Games 2015
That’s also reflected in the fact that pit stops are essential to winning a race. Unfortunately they weren’t functioning correcting in this build, but the race coach was constantly prompting me to consider changing my wheels before another rainstorm.
Despite the help of the race coach, Project Cars still feels like it has a major flaw – handling.
I can appreciate that it’s a game built around being the most realistic racing simulation game to date, but it feels like the look and sound of the game has been prioritised over the way the cars actually drive – or at least in this preview build and others I’ve sampled before it.
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Even when driving in completely clear weather conditions and keeping within the racing lines, cars flick out of control for no reason. A slight twitch even on a straight stretch would send my car spinning off the road.
Then there’s the issue that my car would often hit invisible bumpers or objects in the road, making my car leap suddenly as if I’d hit a wall at high speed.
If you are the kind of racing car gamer that finds keeping to the track hard at times, you can forget about getting back to the racing lines in time to keep your position. I found as soon as my tires even got a wiff of a grass verge I was out there in the rough, finding it nearly impossible to get back to the track even at a low speed.
The AI though have none of these issues whatsoever. They stick to the track like glue and if they do get forced on the verges, they spring back to the track with elegance and ease.
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If you steer towards other cars in the road, the AI will literally veer away from you like your vehicles all have opposing magnets attached to them. It seems very unrealistic that it’s near impossible to have a collision or a crash with another vehicle during a race and that the AI-controlled vehicles simply don’t behave the same as the one you’re driving.
We also noticed that the weighting of some vehicles is a little off. At one point in a race with 15 other Ford Escorts, I (finally) managed to drive into back of one of the cars. Instead of turning the back of his car into a crumpled mess, I just drove straight up his boot and plonked myself on the roof. This happened several times, with different vehicles too, to the point that some of the races were impossible to finish because I would get stuck underneath a competitor’s car.
It might just be a case that we need more time with Project Cars to make the most of the ultra realistic handling, but there are definitely issues that need to be fixed before launch. Cars shouldn’t be jumping after hitting thin air, or driving on top of one another.
Project Cars looks and sounds the part, it just needs to have the handling fixed before it can get the green light.