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How Project Cars 2's Improved Career Puts It In Pole Position

Out in front.

The race for the crown of console sim racing is hotting up in 2017. The endless series of Forza games continues with their most ambitious effort yet, Polyphony Digital are finally put the finishing touches on GT Sport, and then you have Slightly Mad Studios’ effort, following up on the breakout success of Project Cars earlier this generation.

Where the original was rather rough and ready in a lot of ways, Project Cars 2 feels like it’s now grown into the oversized clothes that its mum bought it. The career, for example, still has the same overall feeling and structure, but it’s been broadened with more racing categories, as well as refined so that players can avoid some of the grind, if they so wish. You can much more easily dip into tin tops, have a season long dalliance in the newly included rallycross, before looking to see out your career in single seaters like IndyCar or the peaks of endurance racing.

Just as before, you pick a starting point for your career driver from the lower half of the six tiers of racing on offer. You then take part in championships, looking to place well enough that you can move up a tier and unlock further categories. A blessing here is that you can shift from full championships to short championships, cutting an initial run in the Clio Cup from five races to three, for example. On a race-by-race basis, you can then tweak the event from a full weekend with practice, qualifying and a 100% race, down to just a quick sprint race, if you do wish. Ideal for the casual or short of time gamer (such as someone previewing the game!).

The rewards for doing well have also been improved. Where special events were part of the very literal racing calendar, opening up to you each season to be raced as and when they popped up, they now have their own separate section in the career, and each have very clear requirements to become eligible. Achieve 10 podium finishes, complete 50 laps, win specific championships, and so on. The same is true of working toward being a factory driver, where you have to try and race a particular brand’s cars, from Aston Martin through to Ferrari, doing so through your career in order to then unlock further races and challenges in their name.

It continues to put the overarching goals in your hands, with a number of ways to reach the Hall of Fame. You can simply be a consistently winning driver, work your way up from the lowest tier to the top or spread yourself across multiple disciplines, potentially aiming for Fernando Alonso’s dream of the Triple Crown.

Of course that includes winning the Le Mans 24 hours and one thing that I’ve always wanted to see in racing games is baked in support for multi-class racing, and Project Cars 2 delivers. In a custom quick race, you can pick up to four different classes to race alongside each other, letting you better recreate the World Endurance Championship – one of a handful of built-in race presets that you can trigger – or concoct your own more ridiculous creations, pairing different categories and classes together.

There’s greater depth to the authenticity of the racing as well, with more of the trappings of a race brought into the game. You can run through a formation lap prior to a race, for example, putting the onus on the player to get the tyres up to temperature for the start, and there’s now more realistic penalties, such as time added or drive through penalties, if you mess up.

All of this builds upon the evolved handling, tyre model and LiveTrack which are in the game. One of my bugbears from the first game was that you were constantly sent out onto track with freezing cold tyres to skate around corners as you try to warm them up. While that’s still often the case here, I find that it’s much more manageable from the perspective of someone who’s relatively middle of the road in terms of actual pace and race craft, and I can be cautious, but less likely to simply skate off the track, even in low downforce cars.

Of course, when it’s a track with huge long straights, that will still be a worry when you come up to the braking zone, and there’s more of these in the game. The classic Hockenheim and Silverstone layouts are fantastic additions, and I love being able to soak in the sights of these race tracks that have been redesigned and their old layouts permanently destroyed in reality. Certainly, with Project Cars 2’s wide roster of vehicles, you’ll be able to hop into a classic Lotus F1 car, for example, and race these tracks as they once felt.

While Project Cars 2’s gamepad support has been overhauled, this is still a game that’s going to be best enjoyed with a wheel in hand – and preferably on PC with a VR headset strapped to your head as well, for the most immersive experience. While obviously out of reach for many, racing with the CSL Elite Racing Wheel is great, and again, the game’s depth of customisation comes to the fore. You can pick from three different styles of force feedback, which might boost feedback from running over kerbs and tyre slipping, thought I found the default ‘Raw’ setting to be the most familiar feeling and strongest overall feedback for me.

This is a game that aims to cater to as many types of racing fan as possible. From the pick up and play nature of a quick sprint event and the shorter forms of the career’s championships through to the realistically recreated full weekends with deep vehicle set up customisation, warm up laps and rolling starts with the impressively changeable weather, it looks like it will do just that. It might face some stiff competition this year, but Project Cars 2 is well placed as it rolls up to the starting line.

  1. Avenger
    Since: Oct 2012

    This is all great, but if the AI is rubbish, none of it matters. First game had the worst AI of any racing game I have played. Slow, stupid and blind.

    Comment posted on 27/07/2017 at 17:16.
  2. camdaz
    Since: May 2009

    Sounds like it’s going to be miles better than the original game, which was pretty good anyway, and I’m liking all of the improvements I’ve seen so far.
    With this, GT Sport and F1 2017 it looks like the rest of my life will need to be put on hold from next month.

    There was a game out on PS3 (or even PS2) based around Le Mans that had multi-class racing for the full 24 hours which was rather good at the time but I can’t think what it was called.

    Comment posted on 27/07/2017 at 22:55.
    • camdaz
      Since: May 2009

      The game was Le Mans 24 Hours on the PS2 in 2001.

      Comment posted on 27/07/2017 at 23:00.
      • Stefan L
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        I remember always wanting that game on Dreamcast…

        Comment posted on 28/07/2017 at 00:45.
Project Cars 2
  • Developer:Slightly Mad Studios
  • Publisher:Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Platforms:PS4, XBO, PC
  • Release Date:Late 2017

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