Jeff Markiewicz On May 21, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Project Cars LogoProject CARS is a racing simulator from developer Slightly Mad Studios. Since the inception of this studio, they have been completely focused on racers, bringing you such games as Need for Speed: Shift and Shift 2: Unleashed, which were both well received. Since then, they have worked on a couple more games and have just released Project CARS. The title is actually a crowdfunding success story through their very own development portal called World of Mass Development. When backers bought into the game, they were buying access into the development cycle. They were able to offer feedback on builds and drive the game into what is has become today. This has even fed into the very name of the game, CARS, which is an acronym for Community Assisted Racing Simulator. While this is really cool, the more voices, the more chaotic something tends to become. Project CARS is one of the first games to be driven by the community but can the voice of the many steer this one true?

Project CARS is a racer focused on realism. It offers a comprehensive list of cars from numerous different motorsports and a variety of ways to drive. There is a Career mode, quick race, and online modes. Since the game is a simulator, the actual racing can become quite technical really quick. If you want, you can keep an eye on your tire temperature, manage your fuel, and tune your car for optimal performance. Or you can turn on and off whichever assists you require to make the game fun, yet challenging for you. The game offers fantastic accessibility across all skill types. Once you decide how you want to play, you can then dig into the various ways to drive.

The career mode has you creating a driver and choosing a motorsport to compete within. Once chosen, the game switches to a calendar-based season system. Drive and compete throughout the year to get to the championship and victory. Once the season is up, you will review the contract offers and choose to move on or stay. Surrounding your journey are emails from your teammates to media and twitter posts about your progress. The biggest downside is that it’s easy to see the charade. The posts and emails are quite basic and they repeat themselves often, even within the same season. The races are broken up into weekend events that offer practice, qualifying, and racing events. They vary somewhat based upon the motorsport but overall adhere roughly to the same structure. The biggest problem is once you choose your motorsport, the only way to change is to wait for contracts and hope you get the once you want. A cool aspect of each season is sometimes you’ll get invited to another style of driving but overall you’re pigeon-holed for a while. The other thing to note is that the game does not offer a rewind system. This means the game can get quite punishing really quick.

Quick race is just as it sounds, a quick way to just do a simple race or to simulate an entire weekend. The options here allow you to recreate anything and everything you want. This system extends to the online play which offers the same great customization. It’s as involved or uninvolved as you want. If you want to play a quick game, you can get quickly tossed into a game. If you want to play a specific game type, you can find a game that offers that in the lobby. If they want to play in a very specific manner, they can create their own lobby and customize everything to their hearts content just like within the solo quick race. This is all supported by the nicely polished user interface. As a player in a game you have a few nice options as well. In between matches you can vote for the next map and if you join too early, you can play matches already in-progress. The game doesn’t particularly have a ranking system which may please some people. This means everything is unlocked to you and you are not locked out of certain races. If you don’t want to face other drivers in real-time, there community challenges and leaderboards as well.

When you step back and look at the entire gameplay package, there is not much that is special or new. Just like every other racer on the market, it ticks the right boxes. What differentiates this one from a lot of the others though is when it comes to the feel of the game. Many get close to capturing the right feel but do not get it perfect. Project CARS comes the closest yet but unfortunately it’s not an out-of-the-box perfect experience. Part of the magic comes from the vast amount of options that can be customized. You can tweak almost every facet of the controls and it took me some minor tweaking to capitalize on the great foundation from the creators. Overall, Project CARS is a racing simulator at its heart that can be customized and molded an incredible amount. The modes and ways to play are quite basic but the feel and options elevate it above most of the competition.

Racers in the past decade have become quite a battleground in terms of graphics. The leading consoles have each launched their own exclusive franchises and both battle it out with the third-party titles each year. Project CARS does a good job in this category despite this though. The cars are beautifully designed. Each one has a well-crafted interior complete with animating hands on the wheels and can be realistically damaged. The biggest quarrel here is that you cannot paint your cars to give them a personal flair but that’s a minor quibble. The tracks look pretty good as well and the game does a good job of creating a compelling backdrop. The trees next to the tracks are fully three-dimensional and the view distance gives the tracks some nice depth. Another impressive feat of the game is the dynamic weather and time. If the race starts sunny and midday, you can watch rain clouds roll in so by nightfall, the sky is dark and the rain is plentiful. Considering a lot of racers are completely static, this is a fantastic addition for both the visual treat but also the challenge the various conditions can provide. Overall, Project CARS has a lot to like when it comes to graphics. It’s commitment to realism, highly-detailed cars, and immersive environments makes for a pleasant ride.

Fast cars typically have big, loud engines and you’ll get that here. The cars sound absolutely fantastic. The sound realistically reacts to your environment, most noticeably within tunnels. The game offers some music to keep your mind occupied within the user interface while you set up your next race but within it, you’ll have to look elsewhere. This is a simulator and that is to be expected so you cannot be too disappointed. Luckily, the developers have included an official Spotify playlist to get you started. I do not know if there is any offerings for those on console. While you won’t get music on the track, you will get some smattering of voice over work, pushing you to achieve something greater. While it isn’t special, it tends to stay in the background and not get annoying. Overall, if you want to hear some great, loud engines racing around a track, you’ll get it here but remember it’s a simulator and not an arcade game.

Project CARS is a simulation racer that has a fantastic feel and tons of customizability. You can customize your races, your cars, and your controls with an amazing amount of depth. I believe it was Cliff Bleszinski that once talked about the difference between good games and great games. He said that it comes down to feel. Does the game feel good to play? I can say with ease that Project CARS is such a game. I won’t say it was absolutely flawless from the get-go but it had a solid foundation that only took a couple control tweaks to perfect. And this does not appear to be by chance. The game is called Project CARS, where CARS is an acronym for Community Assisted Racing Simulator. Slightly Mad Studios should be commended for working with the community while keeping everything focused on making a great game.

The package as a whole is great but the career mode is pretty basic but gets you right to where you want to be, racing. The greatest issue is that once you pick a racing style, you are pigeonholed into playing until the end of a calendar season and then hope you get invited to play one of the other types. The online mode is quick and efficient. The graphics are great, especially the dynamic weather and time-of-day. The audio packs a punch but lacks a soundtrack for racing. Luckily this is easily remedied on the PC by playing music outside of the game. Since it is a simulation racing game, it won’t appeal to everyone but you can mold it into something everyone can like and then you can take those options online to play with others. On top of this, the controls and feel. The different classes of cars all feel different and unique but unlike many other racers, the general feel elevates it above the others. When you learn that this was a collaborative project with the community, it is just mind-boggling that it achieved that and remained so focused. Overall, if you’re looking for racing simulator with a great feel, this is a great option.


The entire package of offerings does not do anything surprising. It’s the feel that makes this one special. Then on top of this are deep, intricate options to customize your entire experience.


Highly detailed cars, good levels, and fast loading. Some may wish there was custom paint-jobs for their cars or a stronger differentiating style. Dynamic clouds, weather, and time-of-day is amazing.


Deep realistic simulation of the entire experience except for the radio. You’ll get some okay music in-between the matches but during, you’ll have to rely on outside help.


Simulation racer that has a fantastic feel and tons of customizability. Customize your races, your cars, your controls. The amount and depth of customizations allows this game to be truly yours and different from the competition.

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