I’ll admit it — when I first heard aboutProject CARS, I didn’t give it much thought. It doesn’t help that the name is fairly ho hum, and it’s been ages since developer Slightly Mad Studios worked onNeed for Speed: Shift. But once I took notice of what CARSactually stood for (Community Assisted Racing Simulator) and realized that it was slowly becoming more of a simulator enthusiast’s dream, it flew onto my radar.
Since Bandai Namco is distributing the game, it was playable at the company’s recent Global Gamers Day event, and I came away fairly impressed.
Project CARS(PC, PS4 [tested], Wii U, Xbox One)Developer:Slightly Mad StudiosPublisher: Slightly Mad StudiosRelease: May 2015 (PC, PS4, Xbox One) / TBA (Wii U)
From the first moment I played the game, it was clear Project CARSis a faithful simulator, not just your average arcade racer. After trying to take the first turn in Laguna Seca without braking, my car flew directly into the wall with reckless abandon. On the second turn, I landed off course and learned my lesson — always wipe your windshield with the dedicated button before committing to a turn. I’ll definitely need more time with it before I make a final judgment on the ins and outs of every facet of its driving mechanics, but I’m happy so far.
Flipping through the available tracks and cars, I think people are going to have a lot to mess around with. There’s over 50 tracks, as well as a host of different vehicles like karts, Formula One, traditional racing cars, and the standard sports variety. I toyed around extensively with the free play mode, and you can basically just test things out to your heart’s content. I was happy to see that most of the courses were real and painstakingly crafted to represent the actual location.
In terms of what bothered me about CARS, it was probably the distinct lack of identity — this is going to be a tough sell outside of dedicated fans. It attempts to do everything, and based on my experience so far it does it all fairly well, but it would be tough to pick this out of a lineup of similar racing games if a bunch of screens were all placed near each other.
Once the honeymoon of playing a wide variety of vehicles is over, there may be a sense of fatigue involved. Slightly Mad is combating this by offering constant living races and challenges, which should far exceed the typical post-launch paid DLC and leaderboard updates that most publishers provide.
The build I played though is near final, and I don’t see any real glaring issues so far. Let’s hope it will have enough variation come May.