Project Cars 2 Review – Sublime, but inconsistent racing

Project Cars 2 is definitely not a racer for the faint-hearted. Even going into this game knowing full well it’s a sim, there’s still quite a barrier of entry before you can really sink your teeth into the juicier bits of the game. This is partially due to the design and features of the game, which is completely fine, but controller users might find it a bit difficult getting into the swing of things.

Don’t get me wrong though, the controller experience has been greatly improved upon since the last game, but the default settings still felt a bit off. It took quite some time and experimentation to find a set of configurations that worked for me, but even then, I still found myself wishing I had a half decent steering wheel to play the game with. That said however, I have to commend Slightly Mad Studios for giving a pretty detailed in-game description for each and every adjustable setting which made this process much easier.

Once I was comfortable with the controller I decided to do a quick race and try out the game’s extensive weather system. Seriously, the dynamic weather options in Project Cars 2 put other titles to shame. You can configure up to 4 slots of different weather conditions, with each one progressing into the next at a configurable speed. So you could set up a sunny day, progressing into light fog and straight into a full on blizzard. It’s truly spectacular, but the weather also taught me an important creed about the game; preparation.

For all its splendour, the weather system can be truly treacherous. Rain forms little puddles all over the track that could easily cause your car to spin out, while the harsh snow can be downright blinding at times. It became important to understand the layout and flow of the track as well as how the car handles during these conditions. Hell, even during sunny races, you have to know how long it takes for the tyres to warm up, or how to efficiently manage your fuel to make the most of each event. The new engineer system allows you to easily adjust your car as well by answering a few simple questions, without getting into the finer, more nitty-gritty details, though, the option is obviously there for those who want the utmost control in fine-tuning their ride. I felt like I spent as much time preparing for races as I did in actual races, which, I rather enjoyed. It was daunting at first but the payoff felt phenomenal when all my hard work resulted in 1st place.

When I reached the point of feeling comfortable with the game’s core mechanics I jumped straight into the career mode. Here you can choose between various racing disciplines, from open wheel to touring and GT. You’re allowed to mostly jump in wherever you want or you could start all the way at the bottom. Once you’ve chosen your desired discipline, you sign a contract with a team and you start working your way through the ranks by competing in all kinds of races, invitationals, historic events as well as races to gain favour with certain manufacturers. There’s no superfluous mechanics in place dictating progression, and the only thing that matters is how well you do in races.

There’s a hell of a lot of content in the career mode but I never truly felt connected to my progression. You get emails (some of these mails contained typos too, which is always weird to find in full-priced retail games) from your team, as a means of making it seem more involved, but it felt tacked on at best and I wish there was a little more to make me feel attached to my career. In the end, while there’s plenty to sink your teeth into, it’s a standard affair.

While the core racing experience is undoubtedly one of this game’s biggest strengths, it’s unfortunately muddled with various issues. Firstly, the AI in this game is quite the mixed bag of oddities. There are times where they behave as you would expect, other times, they’ll randomly ram into one another or drive completely off course. It’s really distracting to see cars behave weirdly one moment then drive the perfect race the next. I also came across numerous bugs along the way, from odd clipping issues coming in and out of the pit stop, the racing line just completely disappearing randomly throughout the race, to debris floating in the air after a crash. There’s a certain lack of polish to the game overall, and the problem is only confounded by the fact that the presentation is as inconsistent as the AI.

There are times where the game looks absolutely stunning, but then you’re immediately greeted by horrible blocky shadows and reflections that pop in and out of the game coupled with some really rough looking environments at times. The car models are gorgeous, but the same couldn’t be said about the way they sound unfortunately. While the roar of the engine does sound authentic in most cases, there were times when the tyre screeching was just loud and absolutely horrendous and distracting. When the game hits its stride, and everything works, looks and sounds like it’s supposed to, it’s an absolute treat, but it only serves as a stark contrast when all the ugly inconsistencies rears its head.

Project Cars 2 is a fantastic racing sim, and one that has plenty to offer. With a wide variety of cars and tracks, a truly robust weather system, an extensive albeit by the numbers offline campaign, as well as a fantastic online experience, racing fans are sure to have a blast with the game. Unfortunately, there are far too many glaring inconsistencies right now which hold it back from being truly great. Still, if you can look past all of the issues, you’ll find a game that was clearly made with a deep love and passion for cars, and it’s one that you’ll ultimately enjoy, even with a controller.

Last Updated: October 2, 2017

Project Cars 2 delivers an outstanding racing experience, unfortunately, once the honeymoon period wears off, the by the numbers career mode does little to captivate in the long run, and the numerous bugs and inconsistent presentation and AI hamper an otherwise fantastic game. Project Cars 2 was reviewed on PlayStation 4

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