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Project CARS 2 Review (Xbox One)

September 23, 2017 | Posted by Stewart Lange
Project CARS 2
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Project CARS 2 Review (Xbox One)  

The follow up to the divisive 2015 racing sim Project CARS, the imaginatively titled Project CARS 2 has hit PS4, Xbox One and PC now and if you aren’t ready to put a huge amount of grind into an extremely challenging racing simulator, then I suggest that you just hold off for Gran Turismo or Forza 7. However, if you are dreading the “everyone welcome” vibe of either of those games, then this might just be the game for you.

Project CARS 2 is not a welcoming title. All familiarity that it presents through the menus and setup screens is merely aesthetic, which you will realise when you first start racing. You will spin out. You will crash. You will undoubtedly be punished for cutting a corner by being forced into the pit lane or disqualified. Have no doubts about it, CARS is for the most hardcore fans of the genre and no amount of tweaking the settings will make it as accessible as the other flagship racing games. Despite being able to use auto-breaking and even lower the opposition drivers race IQ in career mode, this is still as challenging a racing game as you’ll look for and probably the most frustratingly rewarding driving challenge since Dirt Rally.

That’s not to say it’s all plain sailing for everyone wanting a challenge either. After a few hours of swearing so loudly my neighbours must have wondered what I was doing, I started tweaking the settings and getting it comfortable for my own playing style. It was at this point I started winning a few races and I got a little bit over-confident. After at least 5 false starts on a snow level, where I couldn’t get as far as the starting grid without spinning out hopelessly as I accelerated, I went back to Destiny 2 to calm my nerves somewhat. The dynamic weather effects are something extremely exciting about this game and getting it released before Forza or GT is a big deal, but given they will both feature this mechanic does negate this a little as I actually experienced my two biggest issues with Project CARS 2 as a result. The first off was how hyper-realistic the snow began feeling under my wheels (and I’ve been driving in Scotland for over 8 years, it’s not THIS hard), while the second was the graphics.

I’m currently running on a high end Samsung 4K TV using an Xbox One S. This will soon be upgraded to an Xbox One X, but right now, the upscaling on CARS 2 should look fantastic and for the most part, it really does. The downside seems to be the wet weather effects. The spray from the tyres of surrounding cars in the wet weather is downright ugly, to the point I was actually relieved that I spun out and had to restart my race to find that it wasn’t quite as rainy. Aside from this issue, CARS 2 is extremely good to look at. All the cars are beautifully rendered and thankfully licensed, as this would have killed the game. A couple of the tracks aren’t given their licensed names and this isn’t a deal-breaker, but the cars are the stars and it would be unforgivable.

Using a controller and lying on your sofa is not the way anyone wants you to play CARS. This is meant to be played a few feet from your TV, with a full high end racing rig set up and ideally VR through the PC version as the PS4 just can’t handle the optimum settings. The controller just doesn’t give you the sensitivity required to really excel at CARS which is a shame as I feel like a lot of people are going to pick this game up without fully realising what they are letting themselves in for and as a result, needlessly hating on it. It’s not arcade friendly and even though you can mess around with the settings to make it as playable as possible, Project CARS 2 is an unapologetically realistic game. It’s just a shame that we live in a world where this will see it maligned for being too hard and potentially unplayable. Don’t get me wrong, I struggled- but I want to keep struggling to see how good I can be.

The final score: review Good
The 411
It's extremely hard to get to grips with Project CARS 2, but it's certainly satisfying. The score reflects the fact that with more accessible titles coming out, CARS 2 is just not going to have the edge over the competition. If you want something to really sink your teeth into, though, this is the game for you.

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Project CARS 2, Stewart Lange