In the annuals of gaming, autoracing titles have come usually in the veins of arcade racers and light simulators. Project CARS is carving a new path as a realistic auto racing simulator funded via community crowdsource funding that encompasses multiple motorsport paths and track types. Howevver, does the title shift into top gear or does it get stuck in the garage?
Project CARS is described by developer Slightly Mad Studios as a "Sandbox" racer, which allows the player to join in at any level, which is something that is both surprising and refreshing in the genre. When this reviewer first loaded up the title, the first thing noticed is the ability to select your level of simulation, which ranged from a more-friendly system controlled experience to a true open simulation which allows near unlimited tweaking of your vehicle. This comes into play in the multiple game modes available, which includes expansive career and online modes besides the normal freeplay option offered by many titles in the genre. In addition, you can select from 74 real-world vehicles(with 60 at launch) from companies such as BMW, Ford, Lotus and McLaren. Another aspect is the tracks provided, including many world-famous places including Le Mans, Watkins Glen and Nurburgring, which adds a legitimacy to the game itself and puts it above and beyond other comparable titles in the genre.
One of the surprising features in this title is the aforementioned career mode, which allows the player to choose which level to start from, be it karting, open wheel F1 or supercars. I spent several hours building up the career of my racer from a lowly fictitious kart racer to a F1 champion. However, this game opens up in online mode, where everything from one-off races to multi-day events take place. The online community of the title is a bright spot in this title, however this reviewer had a couple of challenges when accessing races upon his first attempt, which more than likely can be contributed to popularity of the mode more than technical issues. However, when I was able to access an online race, it was a competitive experience that encompassed similar flexibility on races and cars that are contained in the offline modes of play.
When it comes to the graphics aspects of the game, the tracks and vehicles look well presented and framerates were comparable to other titles in the genre. However, there do show clipping bugs at times, including vehicles wedging onto your car, which occurred to this reviewer during a vital race in my career mode. In addition, some of the tracks sidelines look blurry and muddled, which drew away from some of the races at hand. However, this more than likely will be corrected with future updates, which wiill include support for Oculus and Sony PS4 VR. When it comes to audio, car and track sounds were great, but nothing revolutionary or genre-defining. Finally, when it comes to control, it can be challenging depending on the device used. As we reviewed the title on PS4, the dualshock controller presented some challenge when this reviewer made the first attempt to race, but improved with practice. However, for those who will be dedicating more time into the game, a steering wheel/peddle setup might be more beneficial for those gamers.
Project CARS is a genre-changing title for racing fans, that strives to be a true autoracing simulator and succeeds at nearly every point. With both solid off and online modes, as well the flexibility for user customization for cars and races, this game shows amazing possibility to push the genre into new directions with its sandbox design and presentation. However, miinor graphics bugs may deter some from playing. However, those who are willing to get into the title, they wll be rewarded with an amazing experience.