Project Cars 2’s development is motoring along and, after last week’s announcement of Rallycross being a part of the game, we got to go hands on with it again. It’s shaping up rather nicely, as we sat down with not just Rallycross, but GT3 and IndyCar as well.
What surprised me was just how lively and demanding the handling was when I picked up the controller to race around the Long Beach street circuit in an Acura NSX GT3. Some of that will have been down to playing on a pad and not with a wheel, but it was only once I delved into the settings that I discovered that the demo had been set to default to minimal handling assists. The corner racing lines were turned on, as were automatic gear shifts, but there was no stability control, ABS and traction control were minimal, and so on. This was the game with as few layers of abstraction between me and the handling model as possible.
With that in mind, I greatly enjoyed my time getting to grips with each car I drove. The Acura NSX GT3 caught me unawares in particular, as I commonly think of GT3 cars in sim racers as being some of the easiest to handle, thanks to a healthy balance of weight and downforce to raw engine power. That wasn’t quite the case here, first at Long Beach and then racing round the Red Bull Ring in Austria. I felt like I had to correct myself through each and every corner, really paying attention to what the car was doing, as well as trying to remember braking points.
That’s much more what I’d expect from the IndyCar, and it’s exactly what I got. It’s a finicky beast to try and control at low speed, demanding that you treat it exactly right as you go through a corner, or risk losing the front, or the rear, or both. I’ll admit that racing IndyCar with no assists on a gamepad is probably beyond me.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the Rallycross in Project Cars 2, especially with that having been last week’s big announcement. Rallycross is a fascinating form of racing, taking rally cars around short tracks that cut back and forth between tarmac and gravel or dirt. Not only that, but the sprint races have a modicum of strategy in when you take the Joker Lap, a mandatory trip through an additional section of track. Whether you go early with the Joker, hoping that clean air can help you leapfrog the others, or wait until the last minute is a key aspect of the sport.
They’re feisty, full contact races – the work in progress AI taking this to a quite amusing extreme into the first corner, in my experience – and they’re also a lot of fun. It’s odd, but where I normally race with a bumper cam, here I found myself preferring to race with a follow camera, perhaps because visibility was so often very poor when trying to follow other cars as they kicked up reddish-brown dust through the off road sections. Through it all, I was actually able to reel the AI in over the course of several laps, something I struggled to do in GT3, and I quickly learned to live with the shifting grip levels and the vagaries of the two tracks I raced on.
All of this was running at 4K and 60 frames per second on top tier PCs, and the game looks simply fantastic at such a high resolution. With PlayStation 4 Pro out last year and Xbox Project Scorpio on the horizon, with both targeting 4K or near 4K resolutions themselves, this ought to equate roughly to what those consoles should be capable of. Needless to say that between Project Cars 2, GT Sport and the as yet unannounced Forza 7, racing fans are in for a feast of visual delights in sim racers this year.
Project Cars 2 is really looking pretty good right now, and you should be sure to check out our video above to see it in action – sorry, it’s me driving, as opposed to someone legitimately good at the game. I’m definitely eager to seeing more of it over the coming months, whether that’s simply demonstrating new tracks and more of the cars, or if it’s the announcement of further motorsports disciplines.
- Developer:Slightly Mad Studios
- Publisher:Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Platforms:PS4, XBO, PC
- Release Date:Late 2017