The Sports Desk – A Caution Flag For Project Cars 2
Slightly Mad Studios' Project Cars was a fresh sim-orientated racing title when the series debuted in 2015. I liked its customizability, from the HUD, to the race options, and the flexible career structure. The game had its problems, with the developer spending time having to fix and update the game post-launch, but I liked that it asked questions of how a sim-racer should be approached, considering we've been playing titles like Gran Turismo and Forza for years.
Project Cars 2 comes out on September 22, and the game still contains the customization angle that was the hallmark of the first, while expanding on the technical racing front to include things like track temperature and weather more affecting the racing experience. I got my hands on the game at E3 and talked with game director Stephen Viljoen, and am both excited to see how the game is expanding upon the premises of the first and cautious regarding the challenges ahead.
The game is adding on a variety of fronts, from multi-class racing for endurance racing (for up to 29 classes of vehicles), fully animated pit stops, multi-round online championships, and serious attention paid to how temperature and weather conditions affect the track and your driving experience.
Slightly Mad's ambition is high, so I would love it if Project Cars 2 nails all its goals. For instance, the September game is adding factory races with manufacturers to its career mode, along with a bevy of different motorsports classes to give you ample opportunities to choose from. You aren't locked into the racing for one manufacturer, but those races are there to give you new things to do.
I welcome this, but I also want Project Cars 2's career mode to include more carrots to entice me forward as well as a variety of goals to keep me interested in the short and long term. Games like Dirt 4 do this with their team structure. Forza does it with its driver level rewards. While Viljoen says that Project Cars is not about team management per se, and things like having to pay for the damage to your car isn't what the series is about, I hope that the game's career structure improves upon the career mode of the first Project Cars, which felt like just a calendar of races.
I played the game at E3 for a little bit (on a controller), and was a little disappointed in how it felt. I didn't feel like I was getting the full weight and traction of the car via the controller. It wasn't just a case of not feeling force feedback appropriately, I didn't feel any variance in traction when dipping my tires off the track, for instance. This worries me when it comes to a title that's advertising how important varying track conditions are going to be.
Of course, this experience was during a limited hands-on period, and Viljoen told me separately that the development team is working on making the controller experience just as good as the wheel, so I can't predict how the final game will feel. Hopefully it's tuned correctly and what I experienced at the time was an anomaly.
Project Cars 2 is in a good position to capitalize on the ideas and work the studio has put into the franchise – even in a year with new entries from Gran Turismo and Forza. Hopefully Slightly Mad Studios delivers a final product that makes use of the series' strengths and takes a sizable step forward in a sub-genre that already offers little room to maneuver.
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A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week
GT Sport Coming In October
Limited edition and digital deluxe versions available.
Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 2018 Announced For the Fall
This year's simulation title by Wolverine Studios includes coach hiring, a revamped free agency, and more. Check out this previous Sports Desk for some impressions on College Football 2017, as well as my conversation with the creators.
Full Ace 2017 Coming This Summer
The long-running PC tennis sim is gearing up for a new release this summer, and you can take a look at a gameplay trailer and get more info on the title's website.
Take a Look at the Trailer for Car Mechanic Simulator 2018
The game comes out on July 21. Here's some more info.