Unlike the majority of the AAA titles, Project Cars was funded by developers themselves with a sizable, $5 million dollar support of the community. Crowd-funding took place on World of Mass Development portal and attracted over 80,000 backers, or ‘dedicated members’ as Slightly Mad Studios likes to call them.
The first screens and gameplay materials of the title showcased the spectacular graphical capabilities of Slightly Mad’s new creation, and as the time went on the studio slowly released more details on their game. Following on from their previous creations, Need for Speed: Shift and SHIFT 2: Unleashed, the British studio has decided to build on their success and create another title concentrating on track day racing. Initially the game was supposed to compete with ‘the big boys’, Gran Turismo and Forza, however, as the game is finally released, this seems not to be the case.
Alike the other two, Project Cars allows you to live the life of a race car driver. With time you’ll gain access to numerous splendorous vehicles, however, the game’s poor sense of progression and limited catalogue of available cars puts it to shame.
Gran Turismo gained its popularity through an engaging and rewarding campaign. A campaign which would have you start with insignificant amount of money and climb your way to international glory and financial success. Every completed race in Gran Turismo rewarded you with either monetary benefits, vehicle, prize ticket, or an invitation to further stages of a tournament. And personally, I expected something similar from Project Cars, but as I play through it, disappointment is the only thing i’ve experienced thus far.
The Campaign feels trivial and inconsequential
Everything you accomplish in Project Cars feels trivial and inconsequential. At the start of the game you are able to sign a deal with any sponsorship of your liking, and throughout the season you only compete in events in which the company of your choice participates. Upon completion of your first season you’ll be rewarded with a trophy depending on your performance, and a few event invitations if you’ve been good enough. Once the season comes to a close your contract expires and you can either sign up with another firm or continue with the one that you have just worked for, unless they decide not to extend your contract.
In my first two seasons I’ve completely wiped the floor with all my opponents. Winning race after race, and championship after championship, in my trusty Renault Clio. I expected to finally get a chance to compete with the best, but no. After I have achieved all this, the only thing that was offered to me was 125cc Karting Championship. Disappointed with my offer, I had to take it as I was sick and tired of driving the same car over and over again. Three seasons later, and with dozens of trophies, I’ve decided to retire, as minor league offers, which were only available to me at the time were simply an insult. The single player endeavour is rather abysmal, as boredom takes over within hours. Slowly I found myself begging for the season to finish.
The driving mechanic is simply spectacular. No matter how good or how bad you are at these type of games, you’ll surely find a setting that will suit you. If you’re a seasoned veteran like myself you’ll automatically turn down all the assists, but if you’re unsure about your skills there is plenty for you to tinker with. And no matter what setting you end up with, you will always feel like you’re on the edge of your seat, as a simple mistake will throw you off the track on any difficulty.
Besides the usual ABS assist or automatic breaking, there is also an option that allows you to increase the difficulty of your opponents. However, no matter what you do with it, the AI drivers will always remain incompetent. On many occasions I witnessed my opponents drive off the track and straight into a wall for no apparent reason. I would simply drive past everyone as the start of the race usually ends in a pileup as all the computer controlled vehicles act like punks in a mosh pit.
Project Cars is a much more interesting and engaging game when it’s played in short bursts within a single racing weekend. Track weekends allow you to alter even the smallest aspects of the game. Everything from a track to tire pressure can be adjusted to your liking. You can either play a challenging, 24 hour race around the Nürburgring against 30 glory thirsty competitors; or go on a relaxing drive through the Azure coast of the French Riviera just on your own. Various trophies and achievements encourage such endeavors, but as always they have their own little intricacies that can turn a simple drive into a maddening bother, and a competitive, nerve-racking race into a sleeping pill substitute.
A rather small and unrewarding experience
Project Cars is a racing simulator that’s hampered by a poor campaign and rather lackluster multiplayer, and both those negatives overshadow everything that is good about it. Even if you find yourself playing for hours, you’ll soon come to realize how small and unrewarding it really is. It’s flawed graphical display only further drags it down and the constant frame rate fluctuations, screen tearing, and in some cases poor car models simply take away from the overall fun.