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Project CARS is a new driving game in a field already packed full of serious contenders. Can this new IP zoom to the front of the pack and stay there until the checkered flag waves? Or is it destined to remain a back-marker, lapped time and again by the more able racers?

We put the game through its paces to see which area it qualifies in first place and which areas it needs a pit crew to work on. Read our review below to find out whether we think Project CARS is worth buying.

Project CARS

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Project CARS is a new racing game developed by Slightly Mad Studios and published by Bandai Namco. The “CARS” in the title is actually an acronym meaning “Community Assisted Racing Simulator”.

This is a rather fitting name, as Project CARS definitely veers towards the simulation side of things, and there is already a dedicated community thanks to the game being crowdfunded and openly developed.

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Project CARS is set to compete with the heavyweights of the racing genre The 9 Most Important Driving Games Of All Time The 9 Most Important Driving Games Of All Time Not all driving games are created equal and like with any art, someone creates something new every once in a while. So what are the most important racing titles in the history of video games? Read More , such as Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport. It shares some things in common with both, especially in terms of the handling and realism.

In an effort to differentiate itself, everything is open from the start, and you can dive into any race on any track using any car right from the off. Which is rather refreshing.

The one immediate issue is the distinct lack of instructions on offer, with you left to find your own way around the game. Again, this is refreshing when compared to the hand-holding approach adopted by other titles, but a few more pointers here and there would have been appreciated.

Stimulating Simulation

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Project CARS is very much a driving simulator 4 Of The Most Hardcore Racing Simulators You Can Play On PC Right Now 4 Of The Most Hardcore Racing Simulators You Can Play On PC Right Now On console, gamers will find a few fairly hardcore racing simulators like Forza and Gran Turismo, but over on the PC is where the truly crazy racing games dwell. Read More , with everything set up to appeal to those who take their driving games seriously. There is the option to turn Project CARS into something approaching an arcade racing game, but those who prefer to just put their foot down and hope for the best should look elsewhere for their thrills.

The old adage that, “Practice makes perfect,” has never been better applied than it is here.

The first time you head out to drive a new car on an unfamiliar track you’ll find things very difficult. Even with all of the driving aids switched on you may still find yourself parked on a grass verge or facing backwards in a gravel trap by the end of the first lap. But things do get easier, as you get used to the way the car handles and also more familiar with the track.

Visually Impressive

Project CARS is a very good looking game.

The user interface is best described as functional, with PC-style menus used instead of the flashy menus you may be more used to seeing. But you do get used to them very quickly, and actually, this makes them very easy to navigate. Still, just a little more pizzazz would have been nice.

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Once you get out onto the track things take a significant turn for the better. The cars are beautifully realized, catching the eye from whatever viewpoint you choose to drive them from. And there are plenty of views to choose from, adding variety above and beyond the standard two or three views available in most racing games.

The tracks look phenomenal, with each being lovingly crafted to match its real-world equivalent. The same is true of the cars, and choosing the cockpit view adds considerable atmosphere. The weather effects are gorgeous, whether the sun is in your eyes or the rain is falling heavily onto your windshield.

Playing The Long Game

Project CARS is an absolute behemoth of a game. If you’re so inclined, you could easily play it from now until this time next year without too much repetition. At least no more repetition than is standard in every driving game. There are dozens of tracks and cars to choose from, and several distinct modes to get lost in.

Career Mode

The career mode is the core of Project CARS. You create a driver, get offered a team to race for, and off you go. You get to decide which level you start at, ranging from karting Move Over Mario: You Need To Play These 3 Other Kart Racers Move Over Mario: You Need To Play These 3 Other Kart Racers There are great games waiting for you on a wide variety of platforms. Snag a power-up and put the pedal to the metal in these 3 great kart racing options. Read More and road cars to LMP1 and Formula A, with everything else in between.

Starting at the bottom means working your way up gradually, which could, if you want it to, take months of hard work and perseverance. This won’t feel like a chore though, as there is enough variety built in to prevent any feelings of grinding for no apparent reason 5 Life Skills That Video Games Can Help You Develop 5 Life Skills That Video Games Can Help You Develop Video games can help you succeed at life. It's an uncommon opinion, especially in mainstream media, but it's true. Read More .

Project CARS employs a calendar, with all of the various championships and race weekends penciled in. You’ll start off only being able to compete in some of these events, being invited to drive at more as you rack up wins and podium places. Which should keep you invested.

Online Mode

Heading online gives you a rundown of the sessions available to join, with most allowing up to 16 players at a time. You choose one, and get a little time to choose your car and prepare for the race. You also get to see who you’ll be racing against, but the absence of matchmaking means you’re never sure until the race begins how good or bad they are at the game.

One small annoyance is the need to keep an eye on the forced restrictions, which are easy to miss. The person in charge of the session could have disabled all driving aids, or require everyone to use manual gears. Both of which could be reason enough for you to quit and find another session.

The races themselves are bags of fun, with up to 16 real-life players trying to wrestle their cars around the track without (too much) incident. Project CARS is affected by the usual minority who, once they realize they’re not going to win, decide to ruin everyone else’s fun Good Griefing: The Funniest Gaming Trolls On YouTube Good Griefing: The Funniest Gaming Trolls On YouTube We have covered trolls extensively here on MakeUseOf, with a three-part toolkit designed to help you deal with these online ne'er-do-wells the best starting place. However, trolls don't limit their presence merely to forums, comments... Read More . But this is a problem shared by all multiplayer games, and not any fault of this title in particular.

Attention to Detail

If there’s one thing Project CARS does better than the competition it’s the attention to detail. The cars and tracks all look and feel like the real thing. You can feel the different gradients of track, and see bits of your car flying off when you hit a wall.

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There’s an accurate in-car view for every single vehicle. The handling differs depending on which car you’re driving. The weather conditions What Are The Best Weather Websites? What Are The Best Weather Websites? I'm rather obsessed with the weather. It's not my fault, it's just that I was born and brought up in the U.K., and all British people are obsessed with the weather. I think it's because... Read More actually affect your chances of getting around the track in one piece. And any changes you make to your car’s set-up are immediately noticeable. All of which should appeal to petrol-heads.

Even the AI, which some people appear to have found lacking, is very good, especially as the ability and aggressiveness can be dialed up or down depending on your skill level. If you’re consistently getting beaten by several seconds, you can quickly and easily change things up to level the playing field. Or vice versa.

Is Project CARS Worth Buying?

So, we come to the crunch. Is Project CARS worth buying? Yes, yes, and thrice yes. But with some rather important caveats thrown in.

As previously mentioned, if you prefer arcade-style handling then you should probably look elsewhere as you’ll find yourself constantly pushing against the tide with Project CARS. While some fun could be had after much fiddling with the settings, this game really isn’t aimed at casual racers.

This game should also be avoided by anyone unwilling to put in some time and effort. Project CARS rewards perseverance and hard work, with initial frustrations eventually giving way to addictive levels of fun. But those who are prone to giving up easily should save their money for an alternative title.

As long as these two elements haven’t put you off then Project CARS is a must-buy. It has a sleek and professional menu system, stunning visuals, enough cars, tracks, and modes to ensure you never get bored, and options aplenty to fiddle with settings until the game is geared specifically for you. And, with prices starting at $49.99, it offers great value.

Project CARS is out now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, with a Wii U edition due out later this year. This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version.

If you have bought Project CARS then please let us know in the comments below what you think of it. Do you agree with this review or not? What, if anything, would you change about the game?

  1. Mark Thomas
    November 15, 2016 at 1:30 am

    Hi, I've been looking for a racing game/sim for ages and when I found Project Cars and read some reviews plus seeing some of the game play on YouTube it was put simply a big "WoW" moment and went ahead and brought it as it was very well priced also. Now at first I was very let down by one aspect there was no split screen so I could race with my son or a friend but that being said and with more research Ive found there are so very few new racing games that have this feature anymore (apparently its the graphics that make this option difficult for game designers to keep this option available whilst also keeping the games half decent visually). Then there was the handling which was, well real (simulation 100%) but with all of the adjustments of a real race car and the customisation of the game itself can be brought back to a level you can enjoy from the get go until you have become familiar with the cars and tracks as stated in this review. I definitely agree that with the lack of a manual is a bit hard to get your head around to begin with, but with the help of the online community and others with a better understanding from experience plus reviews like this it is very managable. Ok so without covering anymore of whats already been said, I went out looking for a game that would bring me as close as possible to V8 Supercars 3 / Toca Raced river 3 with all the different tracks (including the mighty Aussie Bathurst) all the different types of racing and a good array of cars but with the stunning graphics available now. I definitely didnt find the exact game I was looking for as it simply doesnt exist which is a bloody shame as V8 Supercars 3 was the best I found and there has not been a remake for so many years as this was PS2 days and I cant understand how they haven't brought that back to life in 2 generations of consols (Get this game back to the fans developer's.!!) Although I didnt get what I was hoping for I am by NO means at all dissapointed as for a racing enthusiast and gamers with time this is an absolute must have.. after a couple of days am still working things out and from what I have heard, seen and am experiencing this is only going to get better and better with every race and bit of practice I put in. So on a whole if your not after an arcade optionless game then this is one of the absolute best out there for real. Hope this helps guys and this is my first ever reply to a review so I hope it also gives a helping hand to the guys who created this site and also my hats off to you on a very acaccurate review. Mark Thomas (horry7@gmail.com)

  2. Jon Stevens
    May 17, 2015 at 1:22 am

    I feel as if I've wasted my money.. And buying it on psn was a mistake as now I cant trade it in, I didnt want a boring old fashioned simulator arcade, I wanted a motivational granturismo feelalike, it's like Im just racing for Trophies.. BORING! The game needs updating ao I can buy cars, do them up, and win money to buy more cars.. Sorry, not to my liking. Long live GranTurismo

    • Dave Parrack
      May 20, 2015 at 9:51 am

      Each to their own. I'm a huge fan of Gran Turismo, and this feels like an evolution on from that. I actually found the lack of needing to buy a crappy car and do it up refreshing. Of course I would like a new GT game every two years, but that's never going to happen. In the meantime, Project CARS is one hell of a good stopgap.

  3. Suleiman
    May 14, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    oh sorry I forgot to mention:
    GREEN! GREEN! GREEN! :)

  4. Suleiman
    May 14, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Dave just came up with an article that answers a car racing gamer's questions. Great writing and now I know what CARS stand for. I love car racing games, I got The Crew and NFS Rivals. They are ok. The best car racing game I have ever played were Top Rally Gear1 on N64 and NFS Drift 1 on PS3.
    I saw project car streaming game play on ps4 stream and I was glued to my screen for more than one hour, no kidding. Then I knew that this is the game I should have. I will definitely get it once summer is over and this is because I pack and shelf all gaming consoles in my home so the kids and I can make great use of the beautiful summer weather.
    Thanks for the article Dave, you rock as usual.

    This is off topic, I am just curious, what would happen if we answer "NO" to this question we get when we are finalizing out comment :)
    Spam check: Do you speak English? (yes or no)

    • Dave Parrack
      May 20, 2015 at 9:52 am

      Try it and see! I don't think it'll make any difference, to be honest, as the mere fact you're filling it in means you're not a bot, which is the point :)

      I'm glad you liked the review. Let me know what you think when you eventually get around to playing it. The advantage of waiting is it'll be nice and cheap by the time you buy it.

  5. andre wood
    May 14, 2015 at 6:59 am

    Ive got it on the x box one and its the most satisfying enjoyable driving game ive ever played , im a 40 year old gamer so ive played every driving game going from out run to colin mcrae , toca, gran turismo , every forza , pgr etc etc . Do have a £900 thrustmaster wheel and rig set up which makes a difference , agree with the review it takes time and effort but its very rewarding , currently working my way through gt4 class all driving aids off attending every practice session, qualification and full race and enjoying evey second .

    • Dave Parrack
      May 20, 2015 at 9:53 am

      Nice! I can imagine this is phenomenal fun with a steering wheel, but I'm willing to splash out that sort of cash on one.

  6. Dr.Gerry
    May 14, 2015 at 2:58 am

    It seems to have the occasional bug......like driving through another team's pit-guy, or sometimes, at the start-of-race screen, where you see the cars lined up on the grid, and they are all about 3 feet off the ground, but apart from that, it is pretty good. Had to experiment to find the view I was most comfortable with - normally in racing sims I would use the in-car view, but for some reason in Project cars I found the rooftop view much easier to drive with.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 20, 2015 at 9:54 am

      I'll be honest, I haven't experienced any bugs up to now, hence I couldn't mention them in my review. But I have seen other people talking about them online, so there obviously are some issues. Hopefully nothing an update won't fix.

  7. Brady
    May 13, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Really wish they would release games like this for Mac. Maybe I'll have to install Boot Camp w/ Windows, just to play this. Looks great!

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