Project Cars 2 is out now and reminds me that car games used to be my life.
Gran Turismo, and even before that, Ridge Racer was how I wasted away a fair chunk of my childhood. Sadly, as I grew older, I stopped religiously playing our high octane buddies. Originally, I thought this was because I was getting older but then, after many years of reflection, I realised that it was because racing games were getting worse. Recently I’ve tried a few but could never get a firm grip of the wheel. All of the Forza games have piqued my interest, but I normally steer away from playing my Xbox.
Forgive all my awful puns. So, to Project Cars 2, I applaud you – my love for a racer has certainly found something worthy of my time.
Over the last few years, I have played a few racing games and I have to admit, no matter how bad the game was (The Crew) they have always looked quite impressive. Project Cars 2 takes graphics to the next level. This is enhanced by playing on the PS4 Pro which runs the game at a beautiful 1440p (yes I know this isn’t native 4K) at close to a solid 60fps. Everything about the visuals amaze. Each car seems pristine like you have just taken your Vauxhall to the car wash and it has come back a McLaren. The colours present the crispness I often relate to Nintendo games and not those of PS or Xbox.
The game itself is more a racing simulator than an arcade game and simulation is the just word. The graphics are so lifelike that I found myself looking for my insurance documents every time I crashed – which was a lot. Visually, everything impressed me – each different weather environment, each and every track, a wide range of cars and all the pre-race menus oozed class and looked fantastic. I cannot think of enough superlatives to explain to you just how good the graphics are and implore you to have a look for yourself.
Although the amazing graphics didn’t exactly shock me, the sound certainly did. Racing games quite commonly have a good array of popular music which you can listen to via flicking through radio stations whilst driving. You don’t get this in Project Cars 2, mainly because if you were driving at 170mph round an 11-corner track you wouldn’t really want music on…
well, I wouldn’t anyway. But it is the music in the menus and pause screens which took me by surprise. A mix of opera and high tempo progressive sounds mellifluously greet you and I find myself right now, writing whilst listening to the said audio. I remember when you would quite often buy the soundtrack to a game (I only ever bought Final Fantasy VII‘s soundtrack) but Project Cars 2 is definitely a soundtrack I would purchase.
However, not only will you enjoy the soundtrack but the race sounds epitomise realism. Each slam of the brake, every over-accelerate, every skid of a tyre sounds like it should. Unfortunately, I have never had the pleasure of racing round a track in anything quicker than a go-kart, but I have seen racing on TV and this sounded the same, so I consider myself an expert. Being a PS4 player also provides you with one of the best elements of this game; your own race team keeping in constant contact with you through the speaker on the controller. I must admit it did scare the hell out of me the first time I heard him. Overall, the sound rings true with the graphics and is nothing short of sheer class.
Gameplay has recently been my biggest flaw with racing games. I’ve been annoyed with difficulty levels being too high and the game expecting the player to have a mechanics knowledge of cars. Project Cars 2 does a good job of making this title accessible for the general public (like myself), as well as technical enough for the car nerds. There are so many interchangeable settings that it took me about five retries before I finally found those settings which worked for me. Whilst racing, you must adhere to the rules of the road. If you drive too quickly into a turn, you will crash, and if you crash, you will fall behind the pack by a distance. I found myself missing the good old Ridge Racer-style game where you could drive hard into a turn, bounce off of both of the walls and still come out in first place.
PC2 has a healthy range of modes, which all offer you something different. Career mode means you can build your character and choose at which type of racing you want to start. You could choose go karting, rallying or a version of F1. Of course, I went straight for the junior races so I could rise to the top. The online mode works well, but you will find a lot of people dropping out of the race you’ve made. You can always go into your own private testing where you will really appreciate all the different cars available to you.
Not only does the weather affect the graphics, but it also massively changes how you will race and whether your tyres will stay on the track. The more you play and the further you get, you will find yourself making more pit stops when the weather sporadically changes. Although this annoyed me, I felt it added to the realism of the game.
I played this game using a controller but have read a lot about how good it is to play using a steering wheel. Sadly, I can’t afford one of those and have a bad knee injury, so pressing down on peddles was the last thing I wanted to do but it’s good to hear that the game runs smoothly with it.
Overall, the gameplay does well, offering you a varied experience where you can choose to play about with your car or just drive and keep it as normal. It’s not quite as easy as Forza Horizon, but you don’t have to be a race expert to win.
For a race fanatic, this game will be will be the best they have played in a while. For an average Joe like myself, this will also offer a great amount of fun. I found myself playing the career mode for hours and getting frustrated every time I was overtaken. All the different cars kept you going as well as the different tracks, and these were enjoyed more with the varied weather. You will find yourself spending countless hours playing and improving your motoring skills as well as technical knowledge.
Project Cars 2 has got me back into racing games but time will tell if it keeps me going. I have high hopes, though.
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Players: single player, multiplayer
I have been a video game player since 1993 and a music fan since I can remember. I studied Film and Journalism at university and ended up becoming a Primary School teacher. Video games changed my life and sent me on the right track and have stayed with me ever since.