Project Cars was a racing game with quite a few strengths: visually, it was stunning, the handling was enjoyable there was a brilliant weather model and the career mode was expansive.
But there were also some gripes too, such as the over-aggressive AI, lack of car choice and a whole host of bugs and glitches.
The sequel to Project Cars was announced shortly after the original game’s launch but is it a big step forward, or more of an evolution? We got to play an early version of the game to find out.
The new Rallycross discipline in the game was confirmed in the initial announcement and more details were then revealed about its addition to PC2. Having tried out a few cars and scenarios in Rallycross, I can confirm it’s what you’d expect from this kind of racing.
The action is fast and frantic, the cars are tail-happy and great fun to chuck around the circuits and it all looks pretty realistic. The kerbs were lethal though and there were a few minor quirks with the visuals.
Rallycross is a lot of fun, but it takes some time to get used to the new style of driving. As someone who plays a lot of circuit racing games, it did take a while for me to get to grips with drifting the cars around turns, having confidence in the awesome-sounding machines and keeping up with what was going on around me.
It was pretty tough to begin with because the cars move around so much over jumps, kerbs, bumps and other things. But I eventually got used to it, and was able to log some clean (ish) and quick laps – you can push the car a lot more than you think, especially on the exits of slow corners.
I don’t have loads of Rally/Rallycross racing game experience so I won’t go comparing it to other motorsport releases, but to me, it felt pretty realistic and was enjoyable. It’s a good addition to the game and adds a fresh element to it.
A big negative from Project Cars was the lack of variety and choice of cars. It was pretty limited and that was disappointing. Slightly Mad Studios realised this. The team have been working hard to get new manufacturers in the game and there are some “exciting announcements” coming up – according to COO Rod Chong – about new and “quite obvious” brands joining PC2.
Obviously with Rallycross joining, PC2 needed a good number of cars to make up a grid – so there’s the Honda Civic Coupe, VW Polo WRX, Ford Focus RS WRX and Mini Countryman RX. Plus, the classic Ford Escort RS 1600 and the OMSE Supercar Lites machine feature. They’ve mixed some World Rallycross and Global Rallycross cars, which is a bit odd, but there’s enough diversity there.
It was also confirmed to us that the Slightly Mad crew worked with Renault and Mercedes to create two fictional Rallycross cars, which are included in the game.
Right now, there official word is “over 170 cars” in the game, but they say there might be a few more than that in the end.
Again, going on what we’ve been told by Slightly Mad, there will be “over 50 track locations” with multiple layouts – the most of any console game, apparently. Among them are some renowned Rallycross circuits such as Daytona, Lydden Hill, DirtFish, Knockhill, Lankebanen and a few more to be announced.
PC2 does look absolutely amazing, and the early build doesn’t seem like it was running at full pelt so we’re sure the finished product will be even more beautiful to look at. It’s a good step forward compared to the original game, that’s for sure.
The attention to detail is evident even at this stage of development – creative director Andy Tudor admitted they had extensive discussions while developing the game about things as minor as how long dust hangs in the air for.
Racing GT cars around the Red Bull Ring, it took me a few seconds to realise it was going from day to night, the transition was that seamless. Plus, watching some people drive around Long Beach in an IndyCar with VR looked damn cool.
Obviously, the game doesn’t come out until late 2017, so we’re still some way off the finished build. Bugs and little issues are to be expected from an early version. I noticed with one lap to go in a GT race the AI slowed quite a bit, and there were a few visual glitches, plus the AI doing some weird things.
But I played an early version of Project Cars some time before it was released and that had quite a few more bugs, so in that respect it’s a positive. There are still some issues to iron out with PC2 but it shouldn’t be much of a concern.
Hearing from the creative director and speaking to the COO of Slightly Mad, we got wind of quite a few extra details about the up-coming PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC game. Rallycross uses the same camera angles in replays as in real life, there’s a new rain simulator, light system and a special Rallycross track on snow.
The controller gameplay was criticised by players of the original game but that’s been reworked from the ground up. There’s also a new system for multiplayer that tracks what you do online to pair you with other gamers with similar skills and racing styles. You can also race historic cars in career mode alongside other new disciples.
I spent quite a bit of time playing the first game and still chuck it in the PS4 occasionally. Handling was decent but I found it a bit too twitchy and the AI were too boisterous. The cars definitely feel more planted to the ground and have a more authentic vibe in PC2, although I am not sure what settings we had for the early build. It felt a bit more accessible but still took skill to be quick (I spun, a lot).
The AI still had an aggressive streak but seemed more balanced - I wasn’t barged off track quite as much. I didn’t have a load of time playing the game but the overall racing aspect felt much more refined and enjoyable, which is a good sign of what’s to come with the finished game.
So, it’s certainly an encouraging start, especially compared to the original game. But there’s still things to be ironed out and a lot of expectation for a better overall package. It’s set for release in late 2017 – let’s see what the end product is like!