When the game arrived, my first port of call was to start what turned out to be, a rather in-depth, career mode. Things start off simply enough as you create your driver, join a team and then work your way up from karts to cars. It’s quite deceptive in a way, because the karts at the beginning are pretty easy to drive, however once you move on and start to get behind the wheel of the 250cc karts, things get a lot more difficult and diverse.
What I like about the career mode is that you can choose to work your way up through the ranks and earn a contract offer to race in a higher series. This consists of taking part in a championship, which is made up of practice, qualifying and race sessions. If you are finding things hard you can simulate results or even skip races entirely and believe me, Project Cars is a punishing game, so unless you are really patient, then you’ll no doubt be making use of this option. If you aren’t one for starting at the bottom then you can always start at the top, although to me, the sense of achievement isn’t quite the same.
What you really want to know is how this game drives and I’m pleased to say that Project Cars does not disappoint. The A.I is punishingly harsh, although they are also prone to the mistakes that you’ll no doubt make. It certainly takes a while to get used to things, for instance, when I was karting I kept hitting the gravel when in first place (it must have been the pressure to win) and once on it the kart slowed completely, in fact ever other racer on the track generally passed me by the time I got back on the track. The A.I doesn’t make it easy to get past them, there were plenty of occasions when I ended up back-ending them and sending their karts onto the grass (serves them right really).
Not only do you have to contend with the A.I, but just as you think you are getting used to driving, along comes the weather and throws a spanner in the works. Be it fog or thunderstorms, not only does it look amazing, but it also makes handing your car a whole new ball game.
There really is a whole world of cars, classes and tracks in Project Cars, far too many to mention in fact, and certainly enough for even the most devout petrol head, yes even Jeremy Clarkson should have enough here to keep himself busy now that he has all that time on his hands; If he wants, he could even throw the controller at the TV screen, without fear of reprisal.
Saying that, the cars don't perhaps number as many as other titles. There’s no Italian cars and other notable vehicles are missing too, which is probably why the roster is filled with unlicensed cars. Whether this will be made up in the future remains to be seen, however this is just a small dent in Project Cars’ otherwise remarkable armour. Thankfully the tracks is where the game really shines. Tracks span Britain, the U.S, Australia, France and more, with plenty of famous names included such as Silverstone, the Circuit des 24 heures du Mans, Nordschleife being just a few. There’s also fictional venues for people to master, should they know the real tracks in their sleep - yes I’m looking at you Jeremy.
I’m not a racing game expert, as you may know if you have watched me (trying) to play DriveClub, but even I can tell that the handing in Project Cars is up there with the best. It’s pure simulation and while I find the steering to be a little on the sensitive side while using a controller, I imagine those who are more proficient at driving games will find that it handles perfectly. I’d love to try the game out with a wheel, an area where the game also shines thanks to its huge support for various models.
There are so many features and options to tweak in the game, that I got completely lost in the menus and stuck with the defaults. Not only can you tweak fuel use, tyre wear, weather and cosmetic damage, but you can also customisation other options in the game such as passage of time, the number of opponents on the tracks and a whole lot more.
If you fancy an online race again real opponents then Project Cars caters for you here too. There’s no real matchmaking, with the game instead relying on you creating your own race or jumping into one from a custom list. It seems to me that online will likely improve over time, as it is not ideal trying to find a match with the settings you desire, especially since the search options aren’t up to much. Still, on the bright side, there’s always the community events which take place using specific cars and tracks via the guise of Time Trial mode.
Project Cars is a racer's game, of that there is no doubt. If you love a good piece of metal with four wheels, then you’ll go starry eyed for Slightly Mad Studios' new racer. It looks fantastic on PS4 and it plays wonderfully too. There’s so much more I could tell you about how much fun I’ve had crashing into walls and A.I racers, but you really should experience Project Cars for yourself.
Words by Joe Anderson
Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/Xbox LIVE: wotta
(Version Tested: PS4)
+ Very authentic
+ Looks wonderful
+ Plays amazingly well
+ Lots of tracks
- Could have a better selection of cars
- Online options need improvement