I've been using racing sims like Forza and Project Cars for almost half my life now, and (as you may be able to tell from some of my previous articles) I think that they have a profound impact on the car community. Kids of my generation can and do learn to love cars through these games. They learn to appreciate the aesthetics, the sounds, and most importantly, the feel, of a huge range of different cars. That being said, choosing a game these days can be difficult. The fierce competition between the big names of console racing (Forza, Project Cars, and Gran Turismo) means that each of the three are constantly trying to outdo one another in graphics, physics, car and track selection, and specialization. Unfortunately, I haven't yet had the chance to try out the latest installments from Forza and GT, but I have been driving in Project Cars 2 for a couple months now.
The offerings for sim racing have been very rich this year, introducing new titles from all three big names. So, needless to say, a great deal of research went into choosing which one to buy. Unfortunately, I don't own a PS4, which eliminated GT Sport from the running right away. However, my main three considerations for the other two were price, graphics, and car/track selection. And honestly, there's not too terribly much separating them on the price and graphics front; each will run smoothly in hd quality on the standard Xbox One, and the standard edition of each checks in at as near as makes no difference $60. The car/track choice is what really differentiates the two, then. And, right off the bat, it seems like Forza 7 has Project Cars 2 beat. With over 700 cars at release, Forza dwarfs the selection of Project Cars 2. However, Forza is missing some key cars, as far as I'm concerned; among those few not present on the car list are all of the 2016/17 GT3 cars. In addition, the presence of WRX cars and tracks in PC2 makes it an appealing prospect. Not to beat around the bush any longer, I chose Project Cars 2. Although it has fewer cars at release, I just liked the ones that are present a bit more.
Now, some of you remember the semi-disaster that was the original Project Cars. It had a plethora of issues, among which were glitchy menus, near impossible controls (even with a wheel,) and a frankly pathetic car list. I'm pleased to report that all of these issues have been fixed in the latest installment. The menus are now pleasantly simple and intuitive, with a much more cohesive cool blue color scheme. The car list, although still small, now includes the latest GT3 cars, WRX monsters, a reasonable selection of street cars, and a number of awesome older racers that, although difficult to drive, provide an experience unlike any other. Most importantly, though, the controls are now downright playable. On a gamepad, most any car you choose will be drivable, and, with some practice, you can get pretty good with it. However, the game was definitely designed for use with a wheel. The force feedback is strong and accurate (although weirdly choppy for certain cars on certain tracks) and each car feels unique and special .According to Slightly Mad Studios, the definite improvement in handling is down to a new and much more accurate tire model. Whatever it is they did, I applaud it. Happily, the issues the past game had with unrecoverable slides are a thing of the past, as is the iffy weather system.
Talking of which, the weather in the new installment is part of what really sets it apart in the field. Clear weather now morphs seamlessly into rain, snow, clouds or fog without a drop in frame-rate, and day slides into night smoothly and with the corresponding change in temperature. The cars respond realistically to the weather and temperature, which, in the case of heavy rain or snow, can be unfortunate for your odds of winning.
The track selection is also excellent, with 60 plus circuits and several different ribbons for most of those. Making its debut in a circuit racing game is Rallycross, a feature that formed a large part of my decision to buy. There are several different tracks (all of which share the multi-surface, high intensity nature of the sport) and around ten RX cars at launch with more promised to come. The cars are difficult to control by nature, but with a little practice, you can have them sliding around any of the tracks like a pro.
There are relatively few issues I have with this game, but there are a couple. If you play for a long period of time, your frame rate in and around the pits will begin to drop. It's not by much, but enough to notice if you fancy using the outside viewpoint. In addition, the menus are slightly too difficult to navigate using a wheel, and there aren't really enough buttons on a standard controller to make full use of the ICM (In Car Management) system that's been implemented. These, however, are fairly minor issues that are unlikely to make much of an impact on your gaming experience.
Now, since I haven't played Either Forza 7 or GT Sport, I can't offer a direct comparison between the three. However, I can tell you that PC2 offers a more challenging (but far more rewarding) driving experience than Forza 6 with tougher force-feedback, and a more realistic system of assists. In addition, the career mode that first appeared in the original Project Cars survives in this version with a few much needed improvements that, in my view, make the game progression more rewarding than that of Forza 6 as well. And with the addition of future car/track packs, the breadth of content is sure to improve. While it might not rival the massive 700+ cars of Forza 7, the selection is respectable and fun.
Now, in terms of which you should buy, it comes down very much to personal preference. If what's important to you is a massive, highly varied selection of cars, then go for Forza 7. However, if what you really want is a fantastic driving experience or the chance to feel like a real life racing driver, then Project Cars 2 is the game for you.