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Project CARS: Motorsport practice in a box

22.06.2015

RACING simulators have been around for as long as I can remember. I recall my initial experience on the first PlayStation console with the famous, Gran Turismo (1997), which played a big part in my development as an automotive enthusiast. Since then, I’ve had every version of the game as well as its counterpart in the Xbox arena, the Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon series.

Recently, I received a copy of a new type of racing simulator called, Project CARS. It’s available across the PlayStation, Xbox, Wii U and PC gaming platforms and as I discovered, it’s a very serious game, for serious motorsports fans. If you’re like me and can appreciate realistic driving physics, while still maintaining that soft spot for games as unrealistic as the iconic Need for Speed: Underground 2, or as violent as the Grand Theft Auto series, then you’ll be able to appreciate what the developers have done with this new game.

If you’re into Gran Turismo or Forza, expect something similar except, as I noted, Project CARS is a far more challenging prospect, which places more emphasis on motorsport and racing cars versus regular road cars, as seen in the other simulators. The career mode is quite entertaining as you work your way up the racing ladder from 125cc Karting all the way to the upper echelons of the Le Mans racing series.

The entire experience is pretty realistic, with you, as a racing driver being offered contracts from various teams with the option to join the team you prefer. You then have a racing calendar, which allows you to jump to each event throughout the season. There’s a practice, qualifying and obviously a race within the weekend. You also have a trusty pit mechanic, over the radio, spurring you on and providing you with vital information.

As for the racing itself, I approached the game with far too much confidence and picked the Pro driving level, which means there aren’t any driving aids; the cars accumulate damage, engine wear, fuel usage and tyre degradation. So, when it came to the racing weekends, I found myself struggling with car setup, tyre choices and, on one occasion, a clumsy pit crew member who fumbled a wheel nut during a pit stop, which meant that I slipped off the podium into fifth place for the day.

There are settings to change the difficulty via a dial that ranges from 0-100. I found myself cranking the dial up and in a very Gollum-like fashion, ashamedly spent more and more time in isolation trying to master the game.

This level of realism isn’t for everyone and I did on occasion find myself going into the free practice arena and attempting my best impersonation of a professional driver, drifting a McLaren P1 through The Corkscrew at Laguna Seca. That’s where the beauty lies in the game, much like modern performance cars, there are settings within the game that allow for beginner, intermediate and advanced drivers to enjoy and gain a sense of what real motorsport is like.

I had a chat with a few PC gamers and trolled around the Internet for a while and got the impression that Project CARS is well-liked and competes fiercely with games such as Assetto Corsa. The benefit of Project CARS though is the multi-platform availability/compatibility, which means that I can enjoy the same game on PlayStation 4, much the same as my friends who use other platforms without a build-up of serious Fomo (Fear of missing out).

Article written by Sean Nurse
22.06.2015
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