Project Cars 2 Review: Bloody brilliant but not perfect
There was huge anticipation within the car gaming community when Project Cars 2 was launched and we couldn't wait to get our hands on the game in the DriveTribe office. After the initial Project Cars game made for a decent driving simulator, physics had been somewhat questionable and other rival games had trounced it in terms of visuals.
With the second album came promises of the most realistic sim racing experience on the market and a much improved online experience that would separate the serious racers from the first corner lunatics. And lo and behold, they've only gone and done it (sort of).
With a bit of work, the physics and dynamics can be honed
Fresh out of the box, Project Cars 2 was a bit of a nightmare. Brakes would lock with the slightest of pedal inputs, no car could turn in at anything over 30mph and weight transfer was virtually impossible to predict. It therefore took a serious amount of time within the game's settings to sort out braking strength, stability control settings and messing around with the authenticity levels to get it anywhere near driveable.
Once we'd trawled the forums and had some help from experienced gaming friends (@simracingphotography), we finally had the dynamics and controls nailed down. And my god, is it an engaging sim to race in. Learning each car from race to race is properly rewarding, especially when you build up to the Le Mans monsters, but more of that later...
Once the settings allow for the steering, braking and throttle inputs to work in harmony, you quickly get into a rhythm that allows you to learn each and every component to a car's behaviour. The turn-in response still isn't 100% there (maybe some more fiddling with the settings is needed) but otherwise the experience is fantastically realistic.
The online community area is great but has its limits
DriveTribe has been holding weekly time trials since the game came out, picking a track and car combination for the PS4 community to try and better our lap times. Some spectacular lap times have been submitted (many by semi-professional gamers) and it has been a great way to try out the different vehicle and track combinations within the game.
An annoying aspect of the online timing tables however is that it only shows the fastest car that you have ever used around that specific track. This means that if, for example, if you fancy timing yourself around Knockhill in a Sauber C9 Group C car, you won't be able to then set a time in a Toyota GT86 and press some form of 'sort' function to then compare your times with other users.
The community events however are well laid out by the developers and provide nice little scenarios to dive into whenever you feel like making a name for yourself. The game is also fully supported by online communities like ESL that allow entire leagues to be formed, something that DriveTribe is definitely looking to establish in future...stay tuned on that one.
The driver rating system is the best yet
When you start playing online, your driver rating sits at 'U1500'. The letter and number is then adjusted depending on your driving ability and cleanliness while racing, a clever way of keeping the gaming experience relevant to those that are in it for some serious racing.
It also means that first corner banzai attempts will be kept to the lower rated races/lobbies, meaning that if you fancy a bit of LaFerrari demolition derbying, you'll be able to find like-minded 'racers'.
The tracks are unbelievably accurate
DriveTribe's first time trial was at Knockhill International Circuit in Scotland, a track that I'm particularly familiar with. And the PC2 developers have built the track to its exact specifications, to the point where each billboard is exactly where it should be, with precisely the advertisements that are sitting trackside as you read this article.
Every gradient, gravel trap and rumble strip is where it should be, down to the millimetre. I can't vouch for every other track in the game but - from many hours of watching real life onboard footage of the world's tracks - it seems like the attention to detail poured into the track designs has been second to none.
It's not the best looking game but that's not the point
I initially thought the graphics and visuals of PC2 were pretty on point, although that might have been simply because I was falling in love with the looks of such cars as the Ferrari F50 GT, Bentley Speed 8 and Jaguar XJR-9. But Gran Turismo Sport has come along and has put Project Cars to shame with its smoothness and accuracy of the cars in-game.
We love the photo mode on both games, especially for editorial content and Instagrammable material, but it sadly unearths the slightly spiky and haggard graphics of Project Cars 2 once you really get up close. Then again, this game is centred much more around the driving experience rather than how pretty it looks, but us gamers will forever demand the best from every aspect of a game as highly acclaimed as Project Cars.
Once you've got the settings where they need to be for your respective setup, Project Cars 2 is as close to a full driving simulator as you can get. It isn't a game for people who just fancy a fun bit of arcade gaming, as rage quits will quickly follow, and have done frequently with the less experienced gamers in the office.
Being a huge Group C fan, I have spent endless hours tackling Le Mans, Monza, Spa and all the other old endurance circuits on the game and I personally couldn't ask for a much more immersive experience, especially when using a full Logitech racing wheel, pedal and seat setup.
Turn-in may still be slightly unrealistic across the board but all-in-all, the second edition of Project Cars is the best sim racing game on the market. Asseto Corsa, the ball is now firmly in your court...
Project cars 2