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Project CARS 2 - Everything You Need To Know

Project CARS 2 is finally here, building up on the original game and improving on most aspects. But before you put your money down for a copy, here’s what you need to know about the latest installment.
Project CARS 2 36 photos
Photo: screenshot by autoevolution
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First of all, and probably the most important if you ask me, this game is a true racing simulator. So, if you’re an expert driver in Need for Speed, in Project CARS 2 you have to unlearn everything you are familiar with regarding virtual driving and learn the proper way of doing it.

There will be a lot of crashing at first simply because you can’t really throw a car into a tight corner at over 60 miles per hour and expect to get away with it like in an arcade game. The rule here is “slow in fast out, ” and you should make a mantra out of that.

Speaking of cornering, although Slightly Mad Studios have improved a lot on the gamepad control over the first title, I strongly suggest you get yourself a decent steering wheel and pedals set to enjoy the game at its full potential.

The new game comes with tons of gameplay customization options and, with some tweaks, you can definitely play it with a standard gamepad, but it will be harder to keep the car under control, especially during high speed and tricky elevation-varying corners. All those micro-adjustments you can do with a steering wheel and foot controls are simply unobtainable on a gamepad.

Visually, the developer has made some important tweaks to the graphic engine, with light now working even closer to reality. Attention to detail is great, and I can truly say I enjoyed looking at an old Lotus F1 car’s suspension and drivetrain doing their thing on the circuit.

The sound is improved as well, and you can almost feel a racecar’s visceral engine trembling and backfiring as if it was near you in reality. A decent 5.1 sound system helps a lot with the overall experience and so is a VR system if you want full immersion.

Project CARS 2
Photo: screenshot by autoevolution
Other than that, don’t expect any form of music while playing. The menus are accompanied by some form of it, but during a race, the only thing you’ll hear is engine noise, gear shifting, tires screetching, and the occasional pit crew voice through your in-car comm.

The game supports both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive devices, but you’ll need a monster computer to take up the task. The recommended PC specifications ask for you to have an Intel i7 6700k processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a NVidia GTX 1080 or AMD Radeon RX480 graphics card. We played the PS4 version.

Hop in the game and you’ll be amazed by all the new content. For starters, there are 189 cars to try out, which is over double the amount in the first game. Same goes with track locations, which have gone up from 30 to 63 and totaling 146 layouts.

Everything is unlocked (except for some classes in career mode), and you don’t have to mindlessly grind your way through credit points or other in-game currency to drive your dream car on track. Yes, I’m looking at you Gran Turismo...

Among the circuits, you’ll also find some oldschool ones like the Spa-Francoshamps Historic, Silverstone Classic, and Monza Classic. Chose the right period car and you’re instantly taken to the glory days of racing in full HD or 4K if your rig supports it.

Game modes are more diversified now with the addition of Motorsport Presets, Favourites, Esports, and Region Community Events to the already present Career, Quick Race, Free Practice, Multiplayer, and Time Trial.

And yes, you can finally have a taste of loose-surface racing as Slightly Mad Studios added a few rallycross and icy circuits to the track roster. Day-night cycle is still present and so is the dynamic weather, which can be further tweaked to your preference.

Another important addition to the gameplay is the LiveTrack 3.0 system, which allows for dynamic road surface transitions that affect vehicle performance, grip, and handling in real-time. In simple words, rain falls on the track, puddles are forming in some areas, the sun comes up, and the water will start to dry up.

Project CARS 2
Photo: screenshot by autoevolution
When you get bored with playing by yourself you can go and check out the new online mode. The developer announced it has enhanced it to remove toxicity between players. It made this possible by introducing two new elements that allow for a better opponent selection.

A driver’s reputation is key to this as it will “score” players for their safety in online racing. A lower rating means you race recklessly and you will not be able to join certain events. The other aspect refers to the driver’s strength, which assesses your skills and racecraft to pair with similar driving players.

I tested the game on a PS4 and it ran perfectly with all graphical tweaks ON. Nags? Well, I found some as well. Right from the beginning, I found some menu buttons hard to see when they are selected as they only get a slightly darker shade of blue.

Other than that, I stumbled on some pit events where the crew was completely missing or disappeared during service, and driver AI that is kinda wonky during the start of the race. However, keep in mind that I tested the game before its official release, so the final game will most likely be fixed.

The final verdict? Well, Project CARS 2 is currently the only new game of its type that has been released and is hard to compare it with something else. Is it good? It’s amazing and simply stomps on previous racing simulators.

Should you wait for Gran Turismo Sport and decide later which one to buy? Definitely no. With or without a strong opponent, Project CARS 2 is a milestone in racing simulation games and should find its way into every enthusiast’s library.

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