Review

Project Cars 2 Review

  • First Released Sep 21, 2017
    released
  • PS4

A bumpy ride.

My first race in Project Cars 2 was a learning experience, to say the least. After a couple of years away from the wheel of Slightly Mad Studios' simulation racing series, getting reacquainted with its uncompromising style was no easy feat. The blind turns and fluctuating elevations of Scotland's Knockhill Racing Circuit played havoc with my rusty skills, as I spun out myriad times throughout my first practice session, making the trackside gravel my undesirable home. It was not the start I had envisioned, and I could have let it get to me--thwarted, as I was, by a quick sprint around the Scottish countryside. But this is where the tinkering began.

I started tuning my Formula Rookie car to adjust to the particularities of this charming British track, softening the anti-roll bar to limit oversteering, and adjusting gear ratios to get a tad more speed down the straights. With each passing lap I gradually became more accustomed to Knockhill's tricky corners, learning how to approach each one with guile and gusto. Before long I wasn't just completing laps without incident, but setting competitive times to rival the competition, and fondly recalling similar moments throughout my time with Slightly Mad's first game in the series. It's a singular, almost assuredly niche thrill; yet it was this focus on learning and adapting to the various intricacies of both car and track that made Project Cars so appealing--and which still rings true in its sequel.

Click image to view in full screen
Click image to view in full screen

For all its strengths, however, the first Project Cars was hindered by some notable flaws. Inconsistent handling, inadequate gamepad support, dim-witted AI, and numerous, disruptive bugs regularly plagued the experience. Thankfully, these issues have been mostly addressed in Project Cars 2. For one, the physics and driving model have been much improved, with less disconnect between your actions and those of your car. There's an increased weightiness to these fuel-guzzling beasts that firmly plants them on the road, and a pliability that makes pushing them up to and over the limit a viable strategy, resulting in some incredibly tense and exciting moments.

Gamepad support is also marginally better. Where playing with a pad was once perplexingly unapproachable, it's now manageable at least--albeit significantly lagging behind the fidelity and one-to-one feedback of a dedicated racing wheel. Out of the box, the handling is quite understeer heavy, too, so you'll probably want to fiddle with the settings until it feels more comfortable. And there are some difficulties communicating exactly what the car is doing without the advantages of force feedback, particularly when the back end starts to spin out from underneath you. There's a distant, almost loose feel to the handling, and this makes playing without stability control more difficult than it would otherwise be. Racing with a gamepad is still nowhere near perfect or even close to the likes of Forza, but these adjustments do enough to make it more playable than the first game. With this in mind, I would still hesitate to recommend Project Cars 2 to anyone without a racing wheel.

Despite the improvements made behind the wheel, Project Cars 2's most eye-catching aspect might just be the sheer breadth of cars, tracks, and motorsports on offer. With 180 cars to choose from, 60 tracks, and 29 motorsports, you can easily go from kicking up dirt and gravel in a Rallycross event in Hell, to careening around Imola in Enzo Ferrari's magnificent namesake. Maybe you'll race wheel-to-wheel in white-knuckle stock cars for the full 500 miles of the Indianapolis 500, usher a Formula X car around the twisting turns of Monaco's opulent street course, or precariously rip through the historic 8.75 miles of the original Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in an Aston Martin DBR1/300. The extensive variety on-hand is sumptuous, and almost every track and car is intricately detailed, with phenomenal audio design bringing each bottled-up rocket of horsepower to life with a delectable symphony of shifting gears, screeching tires, and roaring engines.

The weather effects in Project Cars 2 are best-in-class, and the palpable effect they have on each and every race proves they're not just for show either

Meanwhile, a dynamic weather system that encompasses everything from emphatic thunderstorms and blizzards, to a hazy summer's day--plus an impressive day/night cycle--complements the action, and turns an endurance race at Le Mans into a keen test of attrition and strategy. As the sky cracks open and unleashes a torrent of rain, puddles will gradually form on the track and must be avoided lest you aquaplane into the nearest wall. Survive this brush with death and the hot asphalt will dissipate any pools of water, yet your relief won't last for long as the sun begins to disappear behind the trees. Suddenly corners aren't quite as recognisable as they once were as shadows cast blind spots over the track; and before long you're driving in nothing but pitch black darkness, with only your headlights to guide you. The weather effects in Project Cars 2 are best-in-class, and the palpable effect they have on each and every race proves they're not just for show either.

The best way to cycle through this plethora of motorsports is in the career mode, which takes you globetrotting from one racing discipline to another. You're still free to choose where you begin your driving adventure--whether it's in the lowly rungs of kart racing or maybe in the more potent brutes of GT4--but there's added structure this time around. The high-end championships are locked away until you've made at least some progress, and single-race invitationals mix up the pacing so it's less of a slog. The career mode is, however, surprisingly restrictive when it comes to competing in these various championships. If you finish outside of the top three, it's deemed a failure and you're asked to retry the entire championship again. This can be utterly demoralising when you've just completed ten races or so, and I'm not sure why leading the midfield pack comes with such a harsh punishment. It actively discouraged me from raising the AI difficulty until I knew I could consistently place in the top three, and it feels like a completely misguided decision. If you've started a championship and don't quite fancy it, it's also needlessly difficult to quit. The only way to do so is by starting each race and retiring to the pits, which is very time-consuming.

While these issues are disappointing, Project Cars 2's most glaring faults lie with the AI and the vast number of bugs that constantly crop up. The AI is slightly improved over the first game; it's less rigid, has more spatial awareness when racing wheel-to-wheel, and will make human-esque mistakes, particularly in adverse weather conditions. But for every moment of fair and balanced racing, there's another example where they'll nudge you off the road, shunt you in the backside, or cause an 18-car pileup on the first corner. I can't count the amount of times the AI has spoiled a race by mindlessly crashing into each other at the very first hint of a bend in the road. It's absurd.

The AI is also a constant nuisance in qualifying. It will set consistent lap times when you're out on the track, but as soon as you skip to the end of a session after a seemingly good job, it will inexplicably gain a good five seconds on your best lap time, even if there's not enough time left to do so. I've also encountered a few notable instances where I've qualified in first, only to get bumped into last place as soon as the race begins. The race director is inconsistent, too, dishing out penalties for no discernible reason. If you play in the rain at Monaco, the tunnel will flood with water and is almost impossible to drive on. And any cosmetic damage you sustain will remain after restarting a session, even if that includes missing wheels.

All of these issues, whether they're disruptive or comical, paint a picture of a game that wasn't quite ready to come out of the oven. Multiplayer races mitigate some of these flaws, and are arguably the best way to play, but the online servers are sparsely populated, resulting in a lot of waiting around to race maybe four or five other people, if you're lucky. I also suffered multiple crashes that only occurred during, or when trying to join, multiplayer sessions.

When it all works as intended, Project Cars 2 is a brilliant simulation racer--provided you're playing with a wheel. It's ambitious in scope and depth, and the sheer breadth of available motorsports almost guarantees there's something for everyone to sink their teeth into. It's a shame, then, that there's always this nagging feeling in the back of your mind that a bug or moment of AI madness will disrupt the whole thing--and more often than not, it will. These issues may be ironed out in the coming weeks and months, but with potentially stiff competition on the very-near horizon, Slightly Mad Studios might not have enough time to capture the hearts and minds of video game racing fans before they move on to pastures new.

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The Good

  • Comprehensive handling model and physics
  • Dynamic weather system is best-in-class
  • Mouth-watering collection of tracks and cars
  • An impressive variety of motorsports

The Bad

  • AI is a constant and disruptive nuisance
  • Numerous bugs
  • Career mode is surprisingly demanding
  • Gamepad support is still not quite up to snuff

About the Author

Richard spent over 15 hours on the hot asphalt of Project Cars 2's various motorsports. Stick him on an icy track and his Bambi impression is second to none. GameSpot was provided with a complimentary PS4 copy of the game for the purpose of this review.
249 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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streetmagik

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I just want Burnout.

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deactivated-5b2c8e0382c99

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@streetmagik: Yes! I've been thinking the same thing lately. Racing sims are fine and all, but I'm a much bigger fan of being rewarded for driving recklessly. Need for Speed is about as close as I can get right now, but even those aren't enough.

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streetmagik

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@frosty988: Yeah, I like the sims, but I never spend as much time playing as I plan to. I get bored quickly. Burnout is my favorite arcade racer of all time. Criterion worked on some of the Need for Speed games after Burnout, but they just didn't feel as good. I don't know, maybe this new one will be good though.

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airraidjet

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Edited By airraidjet

Project Cars 2 has a lot of potential, but it also needs A LOT of work. Performance on base PS4 and especially Xbox One is currently unacceptable, nowhere close to a nearly consistent 60fps. what happened to Slightly Mad's motto "60fps or death" ?

On the PS4Pro, the frame rate is mostly 60fps but that hardly matters since the vast majority own the base model or an Xbone.

There's a ton of content in PC2 but the bugs prevent the game from being enjoyable in its current state. Hopefully between now and Xbox One X's release on November 7th, Slightly Mad will have had several major patches in place, in addition to the enhancements for X1X which is what I'm personally waiting for.

p.s. the force feedback needs to be overhauled and online is yet to really work.

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RSM-HQ

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Seems shallow, Slightly Mad Studios must be Crytek in disguise.

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stuff238

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Project Cars was one of the worst games I ever played.

These 2 games are highly overrated/overhyped by reviewers. IGN was paid to score it really high. All month they hyped it up.

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mpl911

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@stuff238: Either you're completely drunk / stoned or it seems you might be being paid by someone just to troll. In my opinion and the opinions of many, many gamers, PC was the best circuit racer on the One. 83 score on Metacritic for the PS and PC versions and 81 for the xbox. In what way was it overhyped? You must have played only 2 or 3 games if it's really one of the "worst games" you've ever played. Or you're a kid that just wants to hate for the sake of hating. I'll assume it's the latter.

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deactivated-59cbc02f7b9dc

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@mpl911: okay and what exactly was that good about the first project cars? Broken save games, unplayable with a controller and a AI from for 10 years. Seriously if you can't even fix your freaking skybox month after the games release i don't even think there are qualified as a game developer. The only good thing about project cars is the weather system. After the first need for speed shift, slightly mad didn't make one good game anymore and i really hope they are soon get bankrupt.

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mpl911

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Edited By mpl911

@rexpowerc0lt: Wow. There was a lot great about the first game; the weather, the way the cars handled, they had the best in-game viewpoint (the helmet-cam) I've ever seen in a game and the audio and graphics were superb. Forza may look prettier but it drives much worse imo plus I don't care about "decals" and painting your car and all that rubbish. The only things that people complained about, as far as I'm aware, was the controller problem and some people thought the number of cars wasn't large enough. Frankly, it's a sim so I suspect SMS designed the game primarily for wheel users. Also - it had 70+ cars...how can that not be enough? Not enough for what??

And seriously - "go bankrupt"?? You want 150+ people to lose their jobs because you didn't like a game they made once but that they didn't force you to buy? What are you, 10? Just don't buy the second one. That's how grown-ups show their discontent.

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deactivated-59cbc02f7b9dc

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@mpl911: do you insult everyone as a child? seriously you need some grown up to do.

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mpl911

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@deactivated-59cbc02f7b9dc: I only call people children when they do really childish things. Seriously - hoping a company goes bankrupt just because you don't like one of the games they made is truly childish.

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spiddyman007

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Edited By spiddyman007

I just want them to make another me vs atv game that's open world and not like supercross with all its dlc.

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silv3rst0rm

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I don't know who to trust about it being awesome or just "okay" but I know one thing's for sure, I'll trust myself and my experience with Project Cars 1 and wait a couple weeks/months, their last title price dropped rather fast.

If I remember correctly it went from full price (79,99$ canadian) to 59,99$ canadian whithin 3 months and it fell even lower (at 39,99$ canadian) within 6 months and ended up in bargain bins at 19.99$ since a while!

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topgun182

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Edited By topgun182

@silv3rst0rm: As long as you don't race the AI, it's a pretty good sim. Handles better than PC1 or the Forza 7 Demo. Looks wonderful. But the racing is pretty awful. Just start in the back and stay wide to avoid the turn 1 carnage and you win.

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silv3rst0rm

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@topgun182: Hahaha sounds fun!

(But hey that's sometime what happens in F1 racing too...)

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gamingdevil800

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Well apparently their next game is going to be Fast and Furious lmao.

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jinzo9988

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Edited By jinzo9988

Project Cars suffers from the same problem that every other sim racing game has for me. It's like "Hey, the game is decently fun with these lower powered cars.", and then as soon as they put you in a supercar it's like "Yeah, **** this game" because it's no longer any fun at all to play. It may be accurate, it may be a really good sim of what it's like to actually drive those cars... but it's a video game and games should be fun.

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topgun182

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@jinzo9988: Then you don't want a sim, you want an arcade/simcade racer. NFS or Forza Horizon are good "fun" games. They are not racing sims, but there is more to do then just racing. I've owned most of the major racing/driving games that have ever been on the PC, and all of the Gran Turismo games. Fun is what you make it. Sometimes I want to hotlap, sometimes I want to progress through a career, others I want to buy a lot of cars and customize them or get points for skills. If all of the games you race are lacking fun factor, you are buying the wrong games.

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BassMan

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Edited By BassMan

@jinzo9988: I can't speak for Project Cars 2's physics and handling as I have not played it yet, but with sim games, the higher powered cars require more skill and restraint to drive just like in real life. You can not be going all out all the time. You have to respect the laws of physics. Tires only have so much grip and you have to factor in the weight transfer in your decisions on how much braking/acceleration/steering input is needed for each situation.

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rodoxthedark

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@jinzo9988: If supercars spun off like they do in the games the roads would be littered with piles of pagani and Lamborghini shrapnel, I don’t think they are as hard to drive, iv driven a caterham and I didn’t end up in a hedge

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gamingdevil800

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@rodoxthedark: Were you going at 100 to 240 miles per hour in real life (km per hour) ? Unless you have a race track you'd rarely go over the national speed limit which is a safe speed in a sports car.

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rodoxthedark

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@gamingdevil800: been round a track with my brothers caterham went pretty fast and it was easier than this game, but obviously without decent vr you will never get a true sense of speed and control, but still I am talking about fun factor. I think gt is still my favourite, so holding out to see how sport is

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SavageEvil

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@gamingdevil800: I think you guys missed what he said, while it may be realistic it's not fun. These are still games and this game if it isn't fun barely any one will buy it. This is a business and businesses need to make money.

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deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

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@rodoxthedark: Very true. That's been my biggest issue with the game so far. It is such an unforgiving game. It is so easy to screw up and when you do, it's borderline impossible to recover.

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fraga500

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You only spent 15 hours with it? C'mon...

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topgun182

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@fraga500: How much time have you spent with it?

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Edited By Xristophoros

another disappointing project cars game. to be fair, the review average is 85 on meta so this game is being slighted on gamespot. that said, gt sport is the one to wait for. While it is missing a proper single player campaign which definitely hurts it, the driving mechanics are second to none and it has the most fleshed out online modes ever seen in a racing game.

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topgun182

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@Xristophoros: I had the beta. I don't know about second to none. It felt like GT6 to me. And GT6 doesn't feel as good as Assetto Corsa.

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deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

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I think it's a solid 8 at least. Granted, the AI has its issues, the controller playability is still a ways off even with hours of adjustments and tuning, lighting/shadow effects can be flickery and sometimes just hilariously bad, especially with heavy fog in the replays, and there are quite a few sloppy framerate dips. There are a few other rather nitpicky "issues," but otherwise, it's a solid sim racer that sets out to do exactly what they said it would.

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topgun182

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@jayskoon93: The AI is a HUGE problem. I don't race online, so that is my only option. I will be waiting for a patch before racing again.

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sealionact

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@jayskoon93: The way you describe the flaws, sounds like a 7 is generous....

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deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

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@sealionact: To me, none of those issues are necessarily "game-breaking." They're a slight annoyance, sure, but looking at the big picture and comparing the pros to the cons, the pros heavily outweigh the cons making the package as a whole a definite win for me. Plus, I expect majority of those issues will be addressed through future updates, alleviating some of the worry.

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unrealnoise

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Ridiculous review and the score is absolutely wtf...

+ largest track list ever
+ livetrack
+ seasons
+ better UI / HUD
+ better sound
+ better career
+ multiplayer system
+ better handling / physics
+ animated pit crew

- some bugs
- AI is better too, _but_ I know that it's sometimes little stupid.

However I know that it's a very complex game. 60 tracks x 180 cars x 4 seasons x day and night x weather. A lot of content. And that's the price. So I'm happy with that.

And this is 7/10? No, no way...

Gamepad support is good, just we need to find a good settings. Example: "Project Cars 2 | Controller Settings Turorial" on youtube.

Gamespot is a big joke...

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topgun182

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@unrealnoise: Not being able to race in a racing games is just a "little" stupid? I have 15 year old sims with better AI.

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jakesnakeel

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@unrealnoise: You need to watch a Youtube tutorial to make the gamepad work well? That sounds like a big joke..

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unrealnoise

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@jakesnakeel: I can drive the car well with default settings of controller. but this is pcars. It has so many options. you can find better and better setting if you need. yes, I don't think it'sna problem. It's a sim. I think that the people aren't so stupid that they didn't find the settings in the menu. Only if needes.

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SavageEvil

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@unrealnoise: For a casual audience you think this is a selling point? This will cause this game to fail, no one wants a game they need a guide to show them how to setup the control to actual feel in control when they pilot a car. That's absurd at any stretch of thought.

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deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

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@SavageEvil: Casual? There's nothing casual about a proper sim. If you want casual, the new NFS comes out soon! This game and games like it are built for a very specific audience that want a realistic experience. Chances are if you're not too knowledgeable with cars to begin with, this game is not for you.

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SavageEvil

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@jayskoon93: You're not too bright in the head are you? What are videogames if not entertainment hobbies and the reason it's so large is due to "casuals", you think a bunch of hardcore sim players can support a market of this size? Keep dreaming cupcake, if it wasn't for the huge casual market and their sizeable wallets of spending cash this whole games market would be far smaller than it is. This game is too hard for the casual to get into right off the bat due to controller issues and it not being very intuitive for a casual. So you fail to bring in enough casuals into the fold you will lose at retail. Being knowledgeable about cars has little to do with having to go online and hunt for a setup to make the game playable, it should be playable the moment you fire it up. This is why I dislike these pseudo hardcore players, they think too highly of their sect in gaming. How well did Assetto Corsa do with all it's proper sim qualities? Only people that stayed with it are hardcore types, all others didn't bother. Don't know what you might be thinking but if a game isn't fun, no one will pass on that it's a good idea to buy it. It's like a lot of you cannot put two and two together, games are supposed to be fun, Project Cars is a fkn game, case end point.

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deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

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@SavageEvil: Well, what do you expect me to say when the first thing you hit me with is a weak insult followed by calling me "cupcake?" All I could do was laugh at how irritated you were by my comment on a videogame. If that actually upset you, then I truly feel sorry for you. But, if it's a proper reply you want, then here you go... First off, Project CARS is fully funded by the community and the developers themselves without the need of a publisher, so yes, us hardcore folks donated a total of 5 million to create the first game. The sales were more than enough to cover the relatively low production costs when comparing to AAA titles like Destiny that cost half a billion to make. No, these games do not sell like Destiny and they're not meant to. As I stated earlier, they're built for a very specific audience, not for everyone. The game works perfectly fine out of the box, but you have to remember, the game is built around a proper racing wheel first and foremost, yet the controller playability is actually okay and with a bit of practice, you should be fine. The game is a lot of fun for those of us that enjoy a true challenge that requires massive amounts of focus and those of you that dislike us and our choices in gaming should butt out and just go on your own merry way!

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@SavageEvil: Thanks for the laugh pal! I hadn't had a kid give me shit for months! Lol!

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SavageEvil

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Edited By SavageEvil

@jayskoon93: Not sure if you are serious speaking to someone saying "kid" does that make you feel like an adult? Go and refute what I replied to you with instead of acting like a child.

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aross2004

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Edited By aross2004

@unrealnoise: Actually, I think their score is right on. As much as I am actually enjoying the game, there are still way too many bugs that need to be hammered out.

GS is not a joke for refusing to acknowledge these issues like a lot of other websites did. And if you can't understand that someone else's opinion does not = your opinion, then the joke is on you.

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unrealnoise

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@aross2004: So many bugs, but the Skyrim is 9/10. Nice to see that. Skyrim was often _unplayable_.

And my opinon isn't just my opinon. They are the fackts.

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topgun182

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@unrealnoise: Those maybe YOUR facts, but not mine. I never had a problem playing Skyrim and I only use wheels for racing sims. I didn't think PC1 was as bad as people say until I started trying other less mainstream sims. Assetto Corsa and Raceroom have some of the best physics I've ever felt, but Raceroom has bad AI as well.

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aross2004

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@unrealnoise: Your opinion does not = "fackts".

Are you also ignoring all the obvious bugs with this game?

I think if SMS can hammer out all the current issues with patches, then we could be looking at a solid 9 here, but as it stands, it has to be rated as is for now.

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Daian

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@unrealnoise: if it helps I think Skyrim is grossly overrated and Bethesda fans let them get away with a lot of issues they normal don't stop complaining about, so they both should get taxed for technical issues.

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deactivated-5ebc942967df5

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"Career mode is surprisingly demanding"

Games journalism folks.

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PrpleTrtleBuBum

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@Prats1993: Yeah they should hire a pacifist to review all the FPS games

- Violent

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STR8TeK

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IGN Gave it a 9.2 in this state lol

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Bot101101

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I agree about most points in this review except the remarks about the gamepad controls. The game handles like a dream, especially compared to PC1 which i have been playing recently before the release of PC2. The cars, even the difficult ones, are much more stable this time around and are awesome to push to their limits.

The dualshock DOES give feedback when you're slipping/spinning or when the car bumps around. So catching spins is waaay easier now. Also, there are many options to set the controls just right.

I would surely recommend this game even if you don't have a wheel and are willing to put some time into it to learn how to drive.

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Project CARS 2

First Released Sep 21, 2017
released
  • PC
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One

7
Good

Average Rating

52 Rating(s)

7.1
Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Everyone
Mild Language