Project CARS Hands-On Preview – Coming Up in Your Rearview Mirror (PS4)
I have always been a fan of racing games, whether they were arcade, sims, or a combination of both. As a PlayStation fan, anytime I wanted to jump into a real racing simulation game, Gran Turismo has always been my game of choice. There just wasn’t another racer on the PlayStation platform that could match up to the combination of graphics, real world feel, and track line-up that the GT world had to offer. After spending some time playing Project CARS on the PS4, that may be about to change.
The PS4 is a powerful beast and developer Slightly Mad Studios looks to have used it to the fullest. This is a stunning game to look at, with an attention to detail in the cockpit that makes you feel like you are really sitting in the driver’s seat. Happily for me a race was already set to go at Laguna Seca, and since I have real world experience there, I was able to see how well they replicated the track in-game. As I was cruising around the track getting a feel for the car, I noticed simple things like flags flowing in the breeze, cars tossing layers of rubber off of their tires, and collisions that were ripping cars to shreds. These weren’t hastily created 3D cars, but cars that looked so real their destruction made me want to shed a tear. My car was getting a little banged up, but some of these other cars were being totaled. Project Cars is a damn good looking game, whether it’s watching a car blow by you, or watching a car blown to pieces when it slams into a wall.
The different views for driving are your usual fare with the exception of a view through the eyes of the driver that can actually lead you through the course if you pay attention. As you approach a corner, your gaze will shift towards the apex of the turn, and can help guide you through the best racing line as you progress through that turn, and onto the next section of the course. Racing lines are always important in a simulator type of racing game, but Project Cars can take that up a notch by creating soft spots away from that line by using the rubber that beads up as it peels away from the tires as they wear down. The first few laps can be forgiving away from the standard racing line, but drifting away from that line in later laps can be a recipe for disaster.
The handling of the car was a little off, but mainly due to the sled set-up in use and its lack of force feedback. I couldn’t really get the feel for the corners using the sled, and probably would have been better off using just the controller, but I made due. My lap times got better the more laps I completed, so the handling was there, it just took a little longer than I expected. Laguna Seca was replicated nicely and the corkscrew was almost as fun in-game as it is in real life. It’s not an easy section to master, but when you nail it just right, and blast out of it like a rocket, it’s a great feeling and the game duplicated that perfectly.
I didn’t get to spend as much time as I really wanted to with Project CARS, but the track time I did spend tells me that PlayStation fans should prepare for some true competition to the Gran Turismo series. Others have tried to match it, but none have risen to the task. With no GT announced for the PS4 as of yet, Project CARS looks to fill that void nicely, and could very well be the simulator of choice for this generation of PlayStation fans. I’m really looking forward to the massive track list, dynamic weather, and an impressive stable of cars.
Project CARS is set to hit the retail race tracks on March 17, 2015.