Jump into the driver’s seat in a racing game that will test you in all conditions…
Developer: Slightly Mad Studios
Format: XBO, PS4, PC
Release: September 22
You’re an Aussie bloke, right? Aussie blokes consider themselves pretty handy behind the wheel. We are a country of vast distances and big engines after all. Who can honestly say they haven’t mind-raced Mt Panorama a million times, or nailed every apex perfectly between their home and the local pizza joint? So it comes as no surprise that Aussie blokes want their racing games to feel like the real deal, and unfold in environments that behave like the real world. These are the exact conditions in which Project Cars 2 excels.
The original game, believe it or not, was a Kickstarted indie title. It did incredibly well for itself, punching above its weight against genre heavyweights like Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo. However, it was also overly challenging, and lacked finesse in the areas that are critical in making an accurate simulation consistently fun to play.
With Project Cars 2, the developer was not only starting from the strong foundation that was the original game, but received genuine funding and support from a big time publisher in Bandai Namco. It’s allowed Slightly Mad Studios to really make the most of the title. The team devoted plenty of development time to narrowing the gap between simulation and fun, reworking all the tyre physics, the weather system, the AI and more with the help of professional race drivers to get the feeling just right. In addition, a new LiveTrack 3.0 engine allows all the individual elements the define the interaction of a car with a circuit to fluidly move as conditions — such as puddling rain, or blistering sun — impact a race. This is a game where seasons and time of day really matter.
All this effort converts to genuinely incredible gameplay. As a yard stick, Mount Panorama — one of 46 circuits in the game, remixed into 121 layouts — has never played better. Racing a V8 Falcon around the circuit just feels right! The thrill of coming down the hill at 300 km/h and breaking into that sharp left-hander leaves you on the edge of your seat every lap. The circuits are laser-scanned to ensure every bump is captured, the off-track detail — like the new hotel just past the aforementioned corner in Bathurst — is in place, and there are 182 cars from 38 manufacturers to try out. This includes new ones like Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Jaguar, KTM, Honda and Nissan.
What we love most about Project Cars 2, however, is all the depth around the excellent driving experience. As well as online play, including support for eSports championships, and new disciplines like ice racing and rallies, the customisation options are insane. You can have up to 32 cars on track, provide a mixed-class field, change the season, alter the time of day, set out how conditions change at intervals through a single race, and plenty more. There is VR support, too, for those with Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
Project Cars 2 looks gorgeous, greatly improves the already fantastic driving experience of the original, and offers an unrivalled suite of customisation options. If you love your racing games, you will love this.