by William Thompson
previewed on PC
Get your motor running
Right from the opening cinematic the awe-inspiring music and breathtaking visuals on display in Project Cars 2 convey a sense of grandeur. More importantly, that sense flows through most of the gameplay as well. As with its predecessor it is clear from the outset that the game has been developed with a more serious racing tone, rather than an arcade style racer, that aims for gamers to immerse themselves into realism.
Probably the best place to start Project Cars 2 is its Career mode. There are other modes that allow you to jump straight into a race, but enthusiasts should really not pass by the Career mode. You can begin your career in any area but starting at the bottom - racing in Karts - and moving on up through the ranks is what racing is all about. For rookies such as myself (my skills with Mario Kart are rarely matched), starting at the bottom really helps find your feet. You get to know each vehicle and, as you move through the ranks, realise that each of the cars you control handles rather differently. After playing through the Kart championship, I thought I would try out a quick race with the manlier V8 Ford Falcon. Let’s just say it didn’t start off well. It took me a few laps to come to grips with the steering on the beefier car. With well over 100 fully licensed vehicles in Project Cars 2 - including some iconic racing vehicles - it could indeed take some time to master them all.
But it is not just the varied vehicles that gamers will need to come to terms with, but the multitude of racing tracks that Project Cars 2 also brings to the table. Learning the layout of each and then working out the optimal turning points and when to brake for each corner is just as important as putting your foot to the accelerator. Speed is great, but when you turn too late and crash into a barrier it tends to end your race.
There are just so many vehicles to choose from and tracks to race on, that fans of any style of racing will be satisfied. Whether you want to race with a Ford V8 Supercar on the undulating circuit of Mt Panorama, a Chevy Indy car on the oval but steeped banked Daytona Speedway, or a Ferrari through the streets of Monaco, Project Cars provides something for everyone. Even if you prefer the dusty circuits in a WRX class car, Project Cars 2 has you covered. And they all look splendid in the showroom, as you get to look at every shiny metal rim and polished mirror.
Being a racing simulator rather than an arcade racing game, Project Cars 2 has heaps of customisations to make the game as realistic a driving experience as possible. I’m not much of a rev-head, but there are a multitude of settings that add to the realism. Everything from vehicle damage, to tyre wear, and even fuel usage can be configured to your specifications.
Visually, Project Cars 2 looks amazing. The developers, Slightly Mad Studios, have seemed to have taken a lot of time to make the tracks seem as authentic as possible. The Bathurst track at Mt. Panorama has a wonderful country aesthetic with rolling hills and trees, whilst the grandstands at Indianapolis hold cheering spectators. Weather effects also play a part in the racing, with rain and even snow falling at times. Vehicle animations are generally smooth as well, although I did have a couple of issues with the screen pausing early on in a race causing me to spin out around a corner or crash into the back of another vehicle.
I mentioned at the start how the music of the introductory cinematic set the tone for Project Cars 2, giving it a more serious ambiance. But the in-game sound effects do the same thing. I love how each of the vehicles in the game has a particular sound. The Kart vehicles have the sound of an overpowered lawn mower, whilst the Indy cars and Formula vehicles have that famous whine as they hit top speed. And although I disliked getting myself into the position every time, the rumble of the vehicles as they drive into the gravel pits sound and feel (with a rumble controller) authentic.
Project Cars 2 is looking great, and with so many vehicles to choose from and tracks to race on, it is a game that will keep race fans occupied for countless hours. I wasn't able to test it but Project Cars 2 offers full VR support and I can only imagine how cool it will be to drive around in some of the famous circuits as if you’re actually there. With only the slight issue I had with the game pausing on me early on in a race, I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product. As it is, Project Cars 2 fits the bill nicely as the racing simulator it is aiming to be.