Project CARS 2, the review of the definitive “almost” racing game

Who I am
Alejandra Rangel
@alejandrarangel
Author and references

Few genres in the last decade have become as unpredictable as that of racing games: initially at the top of sales, these fast and spectacular video games have transformed over time, giving life to an inordinate number of sub-genres capable of breaking through only within specific niches of fans (with the exception of a few arcade titles and some very famous "mixed" series such as Forza and Gran Turismo). This strange whirlwind of upheavals and crises has hit, among others, Slightly Mad Studios, the team responsible for Need for Speed ​​Shift and the GTR series. In a difficult situation, however, our people did not lose heart and managed to raise a few million dollars on Kickstarter, in order to finance the development of the ambitious Project CARS. The gamble succeeded: CARS proved to be a great driving game - and found a reliable distributor in Bandai Namco - but either because of the team's initially limited resources, the difficulty of creating a similar project from scratch, or the simple need to respect not exactly elastic timelines, it arrived in homes with more than one annoying bug, a not superlative fleet of machines and revisable physics. Today, however, we will not talk about that title and its shortcomings, but about its sequel: a potentially excellent chapter since it is built around foundations that are already stable and can be dramatically improved. Will it be the great work of the British team, or is there still a lot to do?



Impossible ambitions?

The intentions of the developers of Project CARS 2 are very clear: to offer, in today's market, a valid alternative to Gran Turismo and Forza, but multiplatform and strongly simulative. You got it right, the Slighlty Mad title wants to contend with the best-selling and loved courses on the market, but to do so it does not intend to follow the same path as those two titles, and rather aims at a driving system closer to works like Assetto Corsa and rFactor 2. It should be a mission impossible, since while Forza and Polyphony's work are incredibly complex and layered games, much of their success lies in their accessibility to the general public and the gradual progression they manage to offer ... Project CARS 2 has therefore decided to open up to the masses by focusing on a clear factor: the personalization of the experience. In practice, the game starts with realistic aid settings, automatic change and a moderate difficulty; each element, however, can be modified: the driving aids can also be activated on cars that normally do not have modern electronics, curves and trajectories can be revealed both by symbols on the screen and by the typical colored indications on the track, and artificial intelligence can even be retouched in both track skills and aggression.



In other words, it can easily become attractive even for those who do not have a professional seat with a steering wheel and do not eat bread and petrol for breakfast, at the expense of realism. If in any case you decide to take the next step, limit the facilities, increase the level of challenge and dedicate yourself body and soul to learning the various disciplines, Project CARS 2 offers a cornucopia of experiences that are difficult to replicate from other titles in the same genre. We explain better: when we talked about simulation we were not joking, and the game is keen to clarify this by offering not only a monstrous diversification of the various types of cars (clearly perceptible even within the same categories when choosing cars from different manufacturers) but also a superlative tire physics and an atmospheric system of the highest level, which reach unexplored peaks thanks to the so-called Livetrack 3.0. In practice, it is a model that is based on scanning the slopes - obtained with a mixture of drones and lasers, according to the developers - and leads them to change according to rainfall. You will therefore see puddles forming after short showers, snow banks and ice sheets in freezing conditions, all in areas where they should actually form (again in the words of the team).

The importance of feedback

Returning to the tires, these react to these changes in the tracks as they are deformable, and give (even with the pad) sensations far from the flatness of a "mixed" title or an arcade. For obvious reasons, these features require a Force Feedback steering wheel to be best perceived, and the only weakness of the experience is right here: without a decent seat Project CARS 2 fails to exploit its full potential, despite the guidance system remains excellent. Ah, since we're talking about Force Feedback; if you are part of the group of players who cursed the previous chapter for a long time precisely for the problems related to this aspect, you can reassure yourself: the software house this time worked at its best to manage everything properly, and most of the steering wheels on the market seems to be responding great. A nice step forward, no doubt about it.



If driveability is promoted with flying colors, however, it does not mean that the system is perfect: The considerable number of cars has inevitably led the Slighly Mads to focus more on certain models, and there are some drops in style here and there. The Catherams (not to mention the super light ones in general) on a wet track seemed almost undriveable, for example, and there are categories that seem to respond quite senselessly on tracks battered by weather conditions. However, we are not necessarily talking about cars deliberately made difficult to manage: in general Project CARS 2 is a title that aims for "controlled" realism, so most of the cars are firmly planted on the ground, and losing control of a modern racing car is extremely difficult if you don't make big mistakes. (paradoxically, this approach is more real than the "hardcore" one of other simulations, where certain cars are absolutely unmanageable despite advanced technologies making them somewhat docile). For heaven's sake, we are talking about isolated cases if we consider how much good the game offers, whose roster of racing cars ranges from various Formula categories to classic power monsters, passing through supercars, go karts, Rallycross cars and common road vehicles. (we are talking about over 170 choices, not trifles).

Watch out for the spin

Outside of tire physics and driveability, things aren't quite as exciting. There have also been significant improvements in impacts, damage system, and artificial intelligence in this sequel, yet these are not resolutive improvements. Let's take for example the challenge offered by the CPU, which is certainly more awake, active and inclined to more realistic behaviors than in the past, but at the same time is extremely fluctuating from specialty to specialty. Pumping up the skill of artificial intelligence offers a challenge only for super experts, of course; It is a pity that in certain categories (on certain icy tracks this is evident) the opponents struggle very much to run with worthy times, making it very easy to beat. Not only that, it is advisable to keep the level of aggression low, since while on tracks with good room for maneuver you will hardly see other riders ramming you, the same cannot be said of their behavior on tracks with narrow roads, where you sometimes risk being hit. treacherously even at the start. Similar situation also for the impacts, which are far from the realism of the guide, and would hardly create problems in most cases if it were not for the penalties and the damage system. A little more could be done.



No protest instead for the contents, to say the least monstrous. Project CARS 2 does not offer a progression to the Gran Turismo, as we have already specified at the beginning of the article, it does not have "licenses", and all cars are immediately unlocked for single races. However, the same cannot be said of the career mode, which divides numerous tournaments into skill levels, and allows you to start from the smaller categories to move from time to time to increasingly faster and more spectacular competitions, in turn customizable in detail (most part of the cups allows you to choose the number of laps, and whether or not to perform qualifying and free practice). It is a good way to get the player to test every type of car available - the competitions of the minor categories remain unlocked and passable even as you level up - and the only real flaw of all lies in having to complete an entire cup. once selected, with no chance of abandoning everything and starting again in another stable. Indeed, to say it all there is also another lack: the decorations are missing.

Pure racing

No, we are not talking about the technical sector, we are talking about frills, side dishes, elements capable of embellishing the experience. The career is very rich and varied, true, but once you have won a tournament the "prize" offered by the game is nothing more than a short movie with a three-dimensional cup, accompanied by the unlocking of special events separate from the typical competitions. No visual personalization of the driver or movies capable of making you feel really in the thick of the action, and even the emails received from your team's managers are cold, impersonal, and often repeated (seriously: string a series of victories and your boss will will congratulate you with an equal series of copy-pasted emails). The only thing that makes you feel part of a real team is the presence of a track engineer, who automatically changes the set-up of the car based on a series of questions related to individual aspects of the player's experience (a clever way of bypass the enormous complexity of the car's tuning options, which can however be changed manually separately). F1 2017 and Forza are still far from this point of view.

The situation with regards to online is quite different. It is clear that Slighlty Mad want to focus on the thriving world of e-sports with their latest addition, therefore - among classic multiplayer options such as time trials and custom races - you will also find a menu dedicated to online streaming and official events, and community challenges that will see you compete with the times of countless riders around the world. It's a nice package, capable of making an already gigantic title practically infinite for an enthusiast. The technical sector is also excellent, boasting over sixty tracks of commendable quality and wonderful cars: the visual quality of the Forza tracks and the maniacal care of the Polyphony series cars are another thing, but Project CARS 2 defends itself very well, it travels at 60 FPS even on consoles (not perfectly stable, but still feel) and its dynamic weather makes it make a decent leap in quality. For heaven's sake, on PlayStation 4, where we tried it, obvious sacrifices were made in terms of detail, yet there is no need to complain in front of such a glance. We close with the sound, which has divided us: on the one hand the sound of the engines is very respectable, and the roar of certain monsters gives great satisfaction; on the other hand, the soundtrack is forgettable to say the least, and we haven't noticed any options to customize it.

Comment

Tested version PlayStation 4 Resources4Gaming.com

8.8

Readers (59)

7.9

Your vote

Project CARS 2 represents a significant evolution compared to the previous chapter, capable of perfecting the driving system at the base of the series and offering a completely customizable experience, which with the necessary modifications is able to exalt both lovers of hard and pure simulation titles than the less passionate user. The leap forward was not flawless, true: some shortcomings of the predecessor are still felt, some secondary bug annoys, and the absence of a side dish leaves a little bitterness in the mouth. For those who love driving games, however, this is certainly one of the best titles out there, and there is very little else to say.

PRO

  • Large number of tracks and cars, all extremely well cared for
  • Highly customizable driving system, more realistic and simulation than in the past
  • Extreme variety and large amount of content
  • Dynamic weather and tracks that change according to rainfall
AGAINST
  • Some minor bugs annoy
  • There is still work to be done on artificial intelligence and physics
  • Little "outline" makes the career impersonal
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