There’s a new player in the video game racing simulator world by the name of Project CARS and I’ve got to say it looks the fantastic. If you recall my previous article on Forza Motorsport 5, I specifically stated that the audio quality in a racing game will make or break it. No matter how good the graphics, no matter the track count, car count or whatever fancy gameplay options there might be, I need realistic audio. I want to hear the tires, the gears whining, the transmission shifting, the brakes squealing. And maybe I’m one to jump the gun, but judging from the in-game footage in their preview trailers, Project CARS delivers. See for yourself below.
According to their website, Project CARS is a racing simulator along the likes of Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo however what sets it apart are the advanced racing simulator features typically reserved for PC-Only titles such as iRacing and rFactor. Project CARS promises a wide variety of race cars and road cars (even karts), over sixty tracks, the ability to fine tune for each track, and implies track conditions may change throughout a race.
Most of this we’ve all seen before. High car and track counts, multiple race classes and types, etc. What I don’t recall seeing in the competitor’s games is a dynamic track that changes with weather, surface temperatures and debris. Another thing I noted while watching the trailer was how leaves on the track get blown in to the air as cars drive over or by them. It’s the audio and environmental details that do it for me.
Project CARS is 4K (UltraHD) compatible for absolutely life-like graphics and apparently will be ready out of the box to work with virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus. No need for a pricey 4K television if you can get over the motion sickness many people experience with a VR headset. Save that dough for the best steering wheel setup you can afford.
So is it possible that Project CARS takes the crown from console kings Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo? Absolutely not. I’m going to say it has about a snowball’s chance in hell of ever doing so and the reason is because the game will have to strike the perfect balance of physics between simulation and arcade. Too arcade’ish and you’re nothing but another Need For Speed title. Too simulation and the game won’t sell to the casual racing gamer on consoles unless they already own a nice steering wheel setup.
Because quality steering wheel setups are expensive and not yet readily available for the XBOX One and PS4, Project CARS has a much better chance of success on the PC because PCs have always been the home of simulator games. But competing on the PC has it’s own hurdles. Competing against established titles like iRacing and rFactor — even if these are never-finished games always in a phase of new development — is just the start. It’s rare to see big marketing spend for new PC-Only titles from a small developer not backed by a company like Electronic Arts.
Let’s first assume that the gameplay of Project CARS is brilliant. Then, if Project CARS can get in front of the their target audience with good reviews from the gaming and racing media outlets then it should sell just fine.
What I suspect, is that Project CARS will attract the more-than-casual racing gamers who A) don’t own a PC or B) own a PC and racing wheel but aren’t talented enough to podium finish in an online game of iRacing. It’s difficult to jump in to iRacing and be competitive when everyone else in the game is a semi-professional off-season racer who hasn’t yet stepped out of their fire-retardant Sparco onesie.
Project CARS must know their audience. As a long time gamer, XBOX One owner and Forza Motorsport franchise fan, I will tell you I can be steered in another direction if your game is good. All you have to do is offer a better experience than Forza Motorsport 5 and I will buy it and I will tell my friends about it and blog about it.