STAFF REVIEW of Project Cars 2 (Xbox One)


Monday, October 2, 2017.
by Brent Roberts

Project Cars 2 Box art We have heard over the years from various game developers that they are "listening to the fan feedback" to improve their games. Well, most of the time that is a bold face lie given the same games can make the same mistakes repeatedly. However, that seems to not be the case at Slightly Mad Studios, as they have released their next installment in the Project Cars racing series, aptly titled Project Cars 2. The original game was a spectacular launching pad for the company, as it showed other racing game developers that a new kid was on the block and its time they took notice. Despite the flaws and shortcomings, Project Cars was a wake-up call. So, with the battle for racing supremacy well underway, how did Slightly Mad Studios listen to their fans? It's simple really, they have delivered one of, if not the best, simulation racing experience ever to be found on a console to date.

First off, this is simulation racing at its most pure essence. This was paramount for Slightly Mad Studios to perfect given that it is the soul of the entire game, and if the handling was imperfect or the delivery of the racing physics were off, then every mode would be affected and therefore suffer. This is not your instant rewind type of racing. Project Cars 2 is your apex hunting experience, and your sniper rifle are the cars found within. It's a game where driving errors are tolerated, but not rewarded. You have the option of turning on driver assists, and after a few hours of slamming constantly into the tire walls and spinning wildly off track, I did exactly that. I cannot express my admiration enough towards the developers for their painstakingly tiresome work of making some of the best driving physics I've ever experienced. Driving with no assists is truly for the hardcore.

Your car's handling is dependent on numerous factors such as tire temperature, track temperature, track design, weather and car damage to name a few, and all of these factors are calculated in real time. As these variables change so does your racing experience. In the beginning your tires are going to be cold, so you can expect to endure some slipping and sliding until they become warm enough to stick.


One setting that I must admit helped me a lot was the racing engineer, and it's a feature that is pretty well implemented. Activating this setting will allow the game to monitor how you drive during races and will suggest to you the type of tuning modifications you should consider to help your racing style. The amount of processing that happens in real time is mindboggling intense, and when you include the fact that Slightly Mad Studios allows you to tweak the gameplay input, what you have before you is one of the most advanced driving mechanics available in a game, period.

Now, in the original Project Cars game the number of cars and tracks seemed very thin. While some could argue that having over 700 cars is pointless since you'll only be driving less than a handful of them, it still has to be said that Slightly Mad Studios has increased the number of both tracks and cars in this game. Boasting over 150 cars over 120 tracks spread across 60 venues, Project Cars 2 seems to be loaded with tons of firepower.

You'll get behind the wheel of a lot of the cars too as you progress through Project Cars 2's career mode. The selection is wide from Indy Cars, touring cars, street cars, rally cars, LMP cars and vintage cars, there is a lot of selection of 4-wheeled beasts. This time around the career mode is incredibly deep. You'll be able to start almost wherever you wish, but if you want to make it into the top tiers you have to earn it. I found that starting off in the beginning tiers helped get me used to the gameplay mechanics, and after that I was like a kid in a candy store.


The sessions are broken up into three events. There is a beginning session, where you get to go out onto the track and learn the course. After that comes the qualifying session, where your fastest lap will determine your starting position, finally culminating with the race itself. While these sessions ranged between 15 and 30 minutes, I found myself spending the time racing in the qualifying sessions just to get pole position on races. As you progress throughout the game, and drive the various cars, you will start to earn affinity with the specific car companies, opening up new racing options for you, which you'll find in the Manufacturer Drivers racing list. The depth to which you can handle your career is quite extensive, but ultimately your best goal is going to be striving for racing performance on and off-road.

You'll need to become one with your car because you're about to experience one of the most incredible weather systems ever created for a racing game. While doing an actual event such as the 24 hour of Le Mans, you will see a plethora of varying environmental shifts that showcase just how incredible the game truly is. Rain can come in varying forms from a slight mist to sheets of hurricane force rain blowing sideways across the track. Water will collect on the track in real time too, but the track will dry itself after the storm passes due to the heat and friction from the cars driving on the track. While having day and night systems is almost mandatory now, having a full evolving weather system that dynamically impacts the experience is just one more reason why Project Cars 2 is a fantastic simulation racer.

While career mode is extensive, there are other modes for you to enjoy, which also include a custom race mode that allows you to pick any track you want and make any day/night/weather combination as well. If you want desert conditions in the mountains, or snow in the Middle East, the race tracks are your playground. To put this over the top, Slightly Mad Studios developed a multiplayer system for Project Cars 2 that plays right into the racing simulation as well, with the online championships and dedicated race announcer to help immerse you even more behind the wheel. While this is a fantastic addition to the game, and goes a long way to help establish Project Cars 2 as a serious simulation racing contender, I can't help but to say one thing: Project Cars 2 is a masterpiece of automotive artwork.


The car modeling, both on the outside and the inside, are done with jaw dropping beauty, but that isn't all; all the little details of your car and its interaction with the track and weather environment is spectacular. For example, you'll see the sun in the sky and the clouds above but you'll also notice the heat waves that rise from a blistering hot track. In contrast, on a wet and rainy day you will see the spray of water as it gets channeled through your tire treads. These are just a few examples of how Project Cars 2 delivers a graphical performance that is second to none, and should you pick up an Xbox One X later this year you will be able to run Project Cars 2 and experience all its wonderment in 4k resolution at 60FPS natively.

While Project Cars 2 looks heavenly, I'm pleased to say that the sounds of the game are some of the best I've ever heard. Have you ever accidentally turned your wipers on during a dry day and hear the rubber squeal against your window? You can hear that in Project Cars 2. Have you ever missed an apex and wildly slid into the gravel sections? You can hear the individual stones being kicked around, and if you're behind the person who went off the course, you can hear even if a stone flies your way and hits your car. Audible elements such as engines roaring, tires screeching, your race manager clamoring in your ear and the rain hitting your car are pieces of the score of the game itself. Sure, the menu music and the musical score of the game is good, but the real mastery of audio comes in the fine details that go overlooked when you're trying to hit the corner at 80 Mph while trying not to get overtaken.

A true racing masterpiece, Project Cars 2 takes a lot of the negatives from the first game and actually improves upon them in such a drastic and dynamic way that the transition is as different as night and day. Slightly Mad Studios has set themselves a lofty goal of making Project Cars 2 the best simulation racing game available on the Xbox platform, and I think that they have succeeded triumphantly. In fact, Project Cars 2 doesn't set the bar to a new standard, it single handedly renders any other simulation racing game obsolete. Slightly Mad Studios developed a colossal racing game, and that everything about it became bigger and better and more dynamic, and that game is called Project Cars 2.




Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.3 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10

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