Feature Article

Project Cars 2 Is Striving To Be The Racing Simulation Fans Want, Again

Second gear.

In the genre dominated by Forza and Gran Turismo, Project Cars distinguishes itself by being progressive. It's multi-platform, all the game's content is unlocked from the start, and it's both crowdfunded and developed in conjunction with the community. Interested players can buy into the project and attend meetings, play weekly builds, and give feedback directly to developers in Slightly Mad Studios' no-nonsense forum. The team are as obsessed with involving the community in the development process as they are with capturing every minute detail in the vehicles. Now, Slightly Mad Studios are hoping that with its growing fan base, and by continuing the groundwork laid in the first game, Project Cars 2 will be an even stronger competitor to the long-standing rival simulators they admire. To help improve on the original, the game's co-directors Andy Tudor and Stephen Viljoen told GameSpot they took on board every ounce of criticism.

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"We've got a great big database of all the reviews and stuff that came in [for Project Cars] along with who did the review, the links, and the number out of ten," Tudor explained. "But the most important column is the 'notes' column which says things like, 'They thought the gamepad handling was too hard' or 'They wished they were more cars' and that is a great to-do list right there."

Viljoen continues: "More often than not, what they say is what we knew. We know we didn't have all the cars everybody wanted. We knew the gamepad control wasn't all it needed to be, but we needed to release the game at some point. So yeah, it's certainly a confirmation of what we felt, but there's always something that somebody picks up on that we missed out on and we go, 'Good point. We need to fix that.'"

The most ambitious new addition in Project Cars 2 is a geographically-accurate and dynamic solar and weather system. In the demo we played, this meant that a few laps around the Fuji Speedway in Japan were different each time. Clouds gathered, rain poured down on the track, and pools of water would form in different locations, before gradually evaporating as the sun came out again. This was visually impressive to witness, but the introduction of this technology isn't purely aesthetic. "All of the racers and manufacturers we talk to tell us that the key thing in racing is what the environment does," Viljoen explained. "It is the unpredictability of the environment that feeds into what makes you win a race or lose it, what happens when you get your strategy wrong or when you get it right, how you approach a race weekend that spans a long period of time. There's so much affected by what the weather is going to do, what time of the year it is, and all these things."

No Caption Provided

For the hardcore audience, the unpredictability of these effects have much deeper implications than simply needing to adjust your braking distance on a wet track, and that's why the team wanted to leave static conditions behind. Vilijoen spoke about the effects the the weather would have on the temperature of the track, and the tire adjustments necessary for those who obsessed over those intricacies. "If you go to a spot in the middle of summer in Project Cars 2, the sun moves at the correct archway for that time of year," he explains. "Most of the track will be covered in sunlight, and [because] it's a warmer time of year you have higher ambient temperature, [and] the track surface itself is being affected by the sunlight calculations, so you have a temperature for that track and it changes during the course of a race."

"Now if you go there again in winter, the sun is at a lower angle, more parts of the track are going to be in shade and others are going to be in sunlight, so now you have this part of the track warmer than that part of the track because it's accurately calculated with the sun there. This is how it is in real life, obviously, and that makes a big difference in how real-world race drivers approach a race weekend. And because this is at the heart of Project Cars--we simulate the experience of being a race driver--it's a critical aspect of it. You don't just get on there and it's always the same, where you can get the lap times every time. That's not authentic." Vilijoen affirms.

The developers and I joked that with all the painstaking work going into replicating true-to-life dynamic environments, most people wouldn't even be able to appreciate the subtleties unless they implemented a low performance racing mode with cars that couldn't break the speed limit so easily. "Funny you should say something like that," Tudor remarks. "We can't talk about it just yet."

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The other big, albeit less visibly dramatic change in Project Cars 2 is in how the game simulates tires. Not only how they're affected by the aforementioned weather conditions, but also the physics of how they come into contact with track surfaces. It's something the developer is determined to improve because of both feedback from the original Project Cars, and the sequel's inclusion of loose-surface racing with ice and dirt tracks.

Regarding the original simulations, Viljoen admitted: "There were areas that we knew needed improvement, and one of them was when you push the car beyond the limit. When you go over the edge, the way the slip curve of the tyre works made it a bit difficult for people to catch the car when it goes sideways. In Project Cars 2 we've added additional types of grip simulations, where we accurately simulate how it affects the handling of the car when the tire is moving across the track surface when it's not rolling. [Also] how the tarmac is ripping the tire itself, which effects, in a big way, that aspect of driving. So we got a full simulation of that implemented, and part of the fallout of that is that our cars are now far more controllable when they go over the limit: we have a far more progressive slip curve which determines how handleable you still are on the car when it is sideways."

One thing that isn't changing, despite some criticisms, is the team's approach in having every car and track available to players from the beginning. It's staunchly different to other titles in the racing genre, where earning currency for vehicle and track unlocks are typical to create a sense of progression. "We're not going to gate cars and tracks because that's the fun thing you actually play with," Tudor said. Vilijoen added: "If you want to step straight into Tier One, you can go for it. There are still things you can unlock, but that's bonus stuff, they're not core to the game. We're not saying, 'You're not allowed to play this.' We understand that there are some game designs where that fits, but largely that's a bit of a bygone era."

But there's an ulterior motive, too: Slightly Mad Studios wants Project Cars 2 to be an entry point into the world of motorsport, for any kind of player, but especially those who aren't as fanatical about it as their core audience. The model is a way to mimic the flexible careers of racecar drivers, and they hope it will organically teach people the language of the sport. "We want to encourage a way of thinking that's like a driver, as opposed to 'Oh, I can't wait to level up and unlock the next car.'" Tudor said. "It's about that way of thinking, the terminology, and what you go to the watercooler with the next day and talk about with your friend. You get a contract with a team, and then you've got a season of races, and you kinda work through there and you're thinking in your head, 'Oh I wish I could race for this team' or 'I'm going to sidestep my career and go from GT racing to Touring instead.' We want you to come out with that kind of vocabulary as opposed to, 'Oh, I unlocked something' or 'I did a huge drift the other day and got 500 points.'"

No Caption Provided

The other thing that Slightly Mad Studios isn't changing is its openness with the community and encouraging feedback on its forums, which is as important as feedback from real-world racecar drivers, it seems. The studio receives more requests than is practical, of course, and though Tudor and Vilijoen did lament a vocal minority of naysayers who get frustrated when they don't get their way, by-and-large the developer is hoping people appreciate its transparency and optimism, but understand the need for intervention.

"We honestly go into every single title full-bore," Viljoen said. "We constantly get to the end of a project and go, 'Okay guys, we overshot a little bit here. Let's pull this back.' But as the old saying goes, we'd rather aim for the moon and eat an eagle than aim for an eagle and eat a rock". Tudor laughed, "I've never heard that ever before."

"We aim high, and we accomplish most of it. It's important for us right from the outset that whatever we agree is going to be included in the game adds depth and not noise. Because it is so easy to just lose yourself in the details."

With all their technological improvements, I asked the directors what they hoped most to achieve in developing the sequel. Tudor reaffirmed: "More than anything I hope people can trust that the game that you eventually pick up has been made by people who listen to you, who are all as passionate as you are. I don't think we would make the game any other way."

Project Cars 2 is slated for a late 2017 release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Edmond Tran

Editor / Senior Video Producer for GameSpot in Australia. Token Asian.

Project CARS 2

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chillgreg1

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Seeing it's made by a lying scumbag many like me will avoid it.

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nini200

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So it will have 2 player split screen local multiplayer then right? Because I can't find 1 racing game on PS4 that has 2 player local split screen on it except trackmania...

DriveClub, Need For Speed, Asseto Corsa, The Crew, Project Cars, ALL SINGLE PLAYER.

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hystavito

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I always plan to get into these kinds of games, even got a G27 way back, but then I never really put in the effort, can't keep the wheel handy cuz it takes up too much space, etc. I'm just a casual wannabe I guess :), but anyway I love that these more serious simulation type driving games exist and are able to make money and stick around.

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leblnk

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Edited By leblnk

I wasn't impressed with the original on console. To me it felt like they needed more time balancing things for the controller.

Never spent any time with it on PC. Didn't have the extra cash to thrown down on a decent wheel setup, so I'm not going to say it was awful.

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leblnk

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@lonesamurai1: I'll definitely give this one a go on PC. Especially if they release a demo or have it discounted at some point.

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Lightingbeal

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For me only thing lacking in the last one was tournaments for online play.

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J-007

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Not sure if I should only get Gran Turismo sport being an old fan of that. I want more memorable gaming days before the end of times yet I'm grateful for the lifespan of games I've had every year up to now

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Pac1Man

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If it performs as poorly with a pad as the first one did, I won't be touching this.

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Lightingbeal

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@Pac1Man: This game wasnt really designed for pads. Anyone that actually wants to race(sims) wouldn't be using a pad anyway.

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leblnk

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Edited By leblnk

@lightingbeal: Seems you're under the assumption that everyone wants to race competitively. If thats the case, then your statement is true and carries a lot of weight.

Not disrespecting this game at all, by the way.

If you're a serious, dedicated online racing enthusiast, then owning a nice wheel, having a nice setup is a must.

If you're a casual racer that don't have the time, plays a lot of other games, or isn't as invested as some, then gamepads are a great tool--if integrated properly.

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leblnk

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Edited By leblnk

@lightingbeal: Then don't make it for consoles if you're not going to bother fine tuning it for a controller/gamepad.

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Lightingbeal

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@leblnk: No wheels for consoles now? Jeez I thought things were bad...

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leblnk

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Edited By leblnk

@lightingbeal: When you have an XB1, PC and a PS4 that you play a variety of games on, owning a 'rig' isn't at the top of my priority list when to comes games.

If I solely played racing/driving sims, it would be. Absolutely.

If I need that sim feel, I own an STi that I can hit some country roads with in real life. Dirt roads. It's not about simulating reality, it's comfort *for me*.

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leblnk

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Edited By leblnk

@lonesamurai1: You're right.

For it to be a success on console, they need to spend the time making sure it's--not flawless because of the input limitations--but make sure it's more comfortable for those who are using a gamepad.

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LoganGTA5

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I still play the first one. A lot.

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jyml8582

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That's very nice and all, but no modding + no progression = not interested. I drive my 435i every freaking day, if I want to "drive" I'll just go to my garage and take my baby out for a spin. What I want for a racing game is a simulation to the whole experience, being able to tune to mod to compete and to win stuff and to provide a sense of accomplishment on top of enjoyment, that's what's called a "game".

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silv3rst0rm

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@jyml8582: You probably couldn't take your 435i to Laguna Seca neither would you dare to push its limits to the very end neither...

(Well I wouldn't push my personnal car the way I'm pushing cars in games for sure! For my safety and to avoid having it totaled!)

xD

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pez2k_

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@jyml8582: There are no modifications allowed in race classes like GT3 or single-seaters, hence why they aren't in the game. If you had an M6 GT3 and an empty track I could understand, but a 4-series is a pretty different thing to a 600hp GT racer.

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Chubby170

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Edited By Chubby170

@pez2k_: But this is simply a game to amuse the masses, and they wont get it done by not adding modding or progression and will only be for the small minority who are purists.

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pez2k_

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@chubby170: The purists are exactly who it's for. If you want lots of roadcars and fictional upgrades the Forza and Gran Turismo series are for you, but if you want genuine racecars and accurate physics it's pCARS 2 or Assetto Corsa.

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Chubby170

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@pez2k_: I wouldnt call performance upgrades to cars fictional at all...

All in all, its just a game and unfortunately a very boring one at that...

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pez2k_

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Edited By pez2k_

@chubby170: What I mean by fictional is that all of these racing games have upgrades that are just a linear bonus to torque and have no relation to real parts either in exact physics values or in the way that they work. An upgraded fuel system in Forza is exactly the same behind the scenes as an upgraded intake, it just has a different menu icon. You can apply 25psi of boost to a random stock engine and make 700hp with a stock fuel system and stock pistons, which is completely unlike real-world upgrades for the vast majority of cars. Upgrades just make racers less realistic.

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Chubby170

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@pez2k_: The thing is, other than professional racecar drivers, nobody knows the difference. And at the end of the day, its just a game.

So with that, I want the one that is going to keep me coming back to play it. And Project Cars definitely isnt it. Like I said, I played 2 hours and ill probably never play it again. Just so damn boring.

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Chubby170

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@lonesamurai1: Yes, grinding to unlock. Ya know, the things that make you want to keep playing a game... Racing around a track with no goals (sure, winning but what am I getting from that win?), is just boring.

And upgrading and modding is far from unrealistic. Not sure why you would say that unless you dont have any real world experience with them.

Also, I wouldnt call them borderline arcade at all. It may not be as hard core "sim" as PC, but definitely not arcady.

Either way, at the end of the day they are all just games and I want the one that makes me want to keep playing it. PC is just so boring, after 2 hours I didnt even want to play again. Big mistake buying as a digital download...

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Chubby170

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@lonesamurai1: Lol professional online sim racing hahaha.

Listen, its just a game, and a very boring one at that. If you are content with just doing laps with no goal or purpose, be my guest but to me and many others, its the definition of BORING!

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Chubby170

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@lonesamurai1: Lol. If you are foolish to think that the "sim" racing is as you would experience in real life, then ok. But in reality, its nothing the same and at the end of the day, its just a video game.

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Chubby170

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@lonesamurai1: Lol, to warn people about not wasting their money on this game because of how boring it is!

These are video games that are made for entertainment and Project Cars is just not very fun....

Its funny that you think PC is so "real" when in reality, its not and its just a game and 99% of people want to buy something that they will want to play over and over, and not something they will be bored with after a couple hours.

But hey, have fun stroking it in your "realistic" video game car lol muahhahahahahah

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Chubby170

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@lonesamurai1: Lol learn to race on a track, please. Stop being so naive.
Ok, we get it. You really really like this game. You bash consoles, yet, this game is on consoles, so that makes no sense.

Also, I never said sim racers shouldnt exist, again, just warning people that when they think they might be fun, might not be all its cracked up to be. You do realize that this game being boring is the #1 complaint, right?. But hey, if your 2 brain cells are content with doing laps for no goal or purpose, then good for you. The rest of us typically like to have a goal.

So, when you think you are really learning how to drive on that special sim racer, just remember... its not real life, you arent learning anything and its just a game. Now go have fun with your pretend race car and when the power goes out, just remember you dont actually have one :)

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Chubby170

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@lonesamurai1: hahahha, oh yes, Im sure all their training came from video games. And also, you do realize that youtube video is just a marketing ploy for Project Cars....

You need to get out of your moms basement once in a while. But have fun with your racing fantasies....

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Chubby170

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@lonesamurai1: Are you still going on about your boner for this game? We get it, you like it and you dont like the other games.

And others dont like this as they find it boring as hell.

Now stop your whining jeez lol.

And I havent played all of the games out there, but I havent played any racers with microtransactions on the consoles. But how would you know, you only have sex with computer racers... And you are complaining about Gran Turismo Sport and its not even out yet! Talk about just blatantly being a fanboy, lol hahaha.

At the end of the day, just remember, its only a video game. Settle down snowflake...

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Chubby170

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@lonesamurai1: hahahhaha, trust me, you are the one making themselves look like an idiot.

Again, we get it. You have a boner for this stupid game. You love it more than anything. You sit at home in your moms basement and play countless hours, blah blah blah

Nobody cares about the guy who learned to race real race cars and plays simulation games. Big whoopidy doo! lol ahhahah

Again, my only point was to warn others that this game is really boring. And you cant seem to deal with the difference of opinion.


Time to grow up a bit, dont you think?

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Chubby170

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Edited By Chubby170

@lonesamurai1: Wow you are completely ignorant. You think you havent made any nasty comments towards me? Wow! You even did it in this above quote. Talk about ignorance at its finest. And you keep saying you are making me look like an ass. How exactly? lol hahah. Becuase you keep spewing stuff and I dont reply about them? Not really sure what your delusional mind is thinking.

And you dont know what a fanboy is? Ok, that just shows you are probably 12 years old and know nothing about nothing. Also, you dont understand what the saying "living in your mothers basement" means? You really need to do some growing up.

You keep ranting about stuff that is completely irrelevant to anything that I have said and you keep going on and on, all because you are the biggest fanboy of this game and you cant see past that.

When you do learn to grow up, you will realize that your opinion isnt the only one and you should be able to deal with those who dont agree with you. Otherwise you just sound like a whiny little b*tch...

PS. Project Cars really sucks big time! Its not a full sim racer, nor is it fun to play. That equals garbage all around! lol hahaha

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Chubby170

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Edited By Chubby170

I recently bought Project Cars and I must say, it is one of THE most boring games ever!! I mean, talk about a game that leaves you with no motivation to keep playing. What it does, it does well but like I said, there is just no purpose of playing this unless you just feel like driving.

Secondly, there is no modding of cars, which I always enjoyed to see the differences of how they affect your performance.

Myself, I need progression in a game at the very least and this is not what you get with Project Cars...

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silv3rst0rm

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@chubby170: Progression in this game is more about the skill you develop more than the number of cars you can gather.

You see progression as you get better by doing better times more than you feel progression by upgrading cars.
This game isn't meant to be a trophy library where you get a garage with 2000 uber cars and earn credits by the millions.

People that are good at Project Cars are not good for getting a Buggati Veyron or a McLaren P1 or whatever, they're good cause they're lapping under 1:40:00 with a certain car in Laguna Seca for example.

This game is for those of us who have and assume an OCD.
Those who could hammer on the very same lap 200 times to do the best that can be done!

I could see myself having a lot of fun in a group of friends beating their laps over and over again! xD

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Chubby170

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@silv3rst0rm: Yes, I completely agree with you on all of this.

For myself, I game alone most of the time so I like progression in the form of earning something or unlocking something. Even with beating track times, I do like that with games and I like the challenge of redoing over and over to try and achieve that goal, but it also needs to have a payoff, and just gaining skill isnt enough for me. To me, that happens with any game with practice.

I just want others to realize what this is. I was very disappointed with my purchase recently due to the aspects I mentioned.

Just to clarify, the game plays fantastic and graphics are great, and that is something that cannot be argued.

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silv3rst0rm

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@chubby170: Well at least if you said you've been "...disappointed with my purchase RECENTLY..." that must mean you got it at a bargain price?

(I think the game is now 20$ or something so you didn't lose too much, that could've been worse)

I get your point and you're right on yours as well.
For someone playing by himself, games like Forza and GT feel more rewarding indeed and you can set some goals/expectations, you can "aim" for something more.

(I actually have both Forza and P.C.)

I wouldn't "compare" them as I think they're not aiming for the same "Market".
(Of course both are racers but it's like saying Arma III and Serious Sam are both shooters... xD)

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