Project Cars Preview: Under the Hood

Nearly 2 weeks after the release of Project Cars, and a handful of hours play time, I got to take a look at the game on PC and how it stacks up to the powerhouse racing games like Forza and Gran Tourismo. The "hyper-realistic" racing simulator developed by Slightly Mad Studios delivered us a game that has pleased the racing gaming fanatics of the land with outstanding reviews and raves about its high detail and life-like simulation feel. Here are my thoughts after some long nights of racing.

I've been a diehard Forza fan since the first game back on the original Xbox. It has been my go to racing game for a very long time. I've always loved the ability to be able to modify my car in the game to be competitive in different racing classes, lots of time on free racing doing time attack, and even drifting. The game has made me very loyal and very biased toward other games. I was never a big fan of Gran Tourismo because of how used to and comfortable I was with Forza. However, the last Forza game I played (Forza 5) left me feeling very bored. The lack of cars and tracks this time around was really disappointing. Still, a Forza fan I remained and played it for hours and hours. Recently I had gained interest in giving other racing games a shot. I had heard good things about Project Cars from Cameron here at BruisedThumbs, and decided I would give the game a shot.

Going inside of the helmet view gives me the real sense of being inside one of these monstrous sounding race machines.

I am not 14 hours of gameplay into the game. At first I was sort of "meh" feeling about the game. Granted, it looked great! The graphics were very well done, the cars and tracks looked spot on terrific. The weather effects are awesome and really affect all cars differently. However, the feel of the game just wasn't what I was used to. However, after some time trying different cars and different tracks the game began feeling more comfortable. Once I was able to get it out of my head that this wasn’t Forza, and the simulation feel of this game will be different, I was able to open up to the game a lot more.

I started working with the tuning options the game offered and I was blown away at how much more functionality this game has than I had thought. After some tweaks to the force feedback feel as I'm using a controller and not a racing wheel, I was able to make the car's handling feel much more smooth and easy to use. Once I got the tuning aspects dialed in to my liking, it was game time! Last I checked, I have a few record times on some tracks (if not number 1, top 5 at least) and have made it through my first GT3 Career mode as Champion on the season.

In terms of sound design, Project Cars absolutely dominates any other racing simulator I have had the chance to play. It’s so accurate that I can only imagine what it would be like with 7.1 headphones, a VR headset, steering wheel, gas, brakes, and a racing chair. This is the kind of game that would flourish in an adult arcade. Each of the six or so views I could access pressing the “X” button gave me a different sounding viewpoint. Outside of the car I hear the power an audience might hear and feel. Going inside of the helmet view gives me the real sense of being inside one of these monstrous sounding race machines. It is astonishing how accurate the audio quality is.

Some of the emails from the old team saying they’ll miss me and wishing me luck.... kind of tickled the feels a bit

Career mode has been an absolute blast. You start out by signing a contract with whatever racing class you choose with GT3 being my favorite racing series. Selecting your team will determine what kind of car they give you to race. You are then taken to your dashboard which you can view your calendar, car setup, "Fan Chat" which has a simulated twitter style feed of fans writing about you, your inbox where you receive messages from your team/management as well as other racing classes and teams inviting you to race in their series, your racing results, and an overview of your career. The menu is easy to maneuver and easy on the eyes with plenty of options available to play with.

Once you start racing there will be 2 practice rounds per race, 2 qualifying rounds per race, a sprint race and the main race. The racing itself has been great with fun interactions from your pit crew as they keep you informed during your race about times, cars around, and when you need to pit. I would, however, like more competitive opponents as the AI’s difficulty didn’t seem to be much of a challenge making it more of a race against myself. Once you race through and finish the season, you're then sent other contract offers for new teams as well as even other racing classes. I must admit, throughout the racing season you get mail from your team in your inbox and reading through some of those kind of makes you feel part of the team. It was oddly immersive and definitely not one I knew existed. When I signed a new contract with another team at the end of my season, some of the emails from the old team saying they'll miss me and wishing me luck.... kind of tickled the feels a bit. Again, it was odd, but great.

This game is definitely on par with those (GT/Forza), and hopefully we will see future expansions to extend its longevity.

So far this game has been an absolute blast and I look forward to racing a lot more in this game. If you're looking for a new racing game and have been wanting something other than the two standard mainstream favorites in Forza or Gran Tourismo, I would say this game is definitely on par with those, and hopefully we will see future expansions to extend its longevity. If you're on the fence, I will be streaming the game live on Twitch when I can, and we’ll have a full review for you in the coming days.

If my preview has you convinced and looking at getting it for PC, check out our affiliates at CDKeys.com for a great price on the game. 

Jeremy Howat

I'm Jeremy. I'm 27 years old from Northern California and I have played GW2 off and on (mostly on) since release. I have played Tera, Archeage, Shaiya, and Star Wars The Old Republic but GW2 has me set. Non-streamed games: Forza 5 and Battlefield 4 on Xbox One. I am new to streaming and have been loving it so far! I am always up for talking and playing along with viewers in game, so please don't be shy! The more talking, the more fun! Find me on Twitch @JHowat! Jeremy - Streamer/Editor/Guild Wars 2 Specialist GW2: JermyZ.3978 / XBL: The Jermy