So recently, between bouts of Monster Hunter World, I’ve been playing a bit of Project Cars 2 on the side. No wait, that’s not right, I’ve been trying to play Project Cars 2. Okay, no, I have made several attempts to play Project Cars 2. And I’ve failed miserably, but I don’t understand why. I love my racing games and tend to reach for the simulation-oriented games like Forza Motorsport/Horizon, Gran Turismo Sport (which sucked), and Grid Autosport. Basically, it has to have “sport” somewhere in the title in order to be a simulation game. I love these games and always have a blast. Unless I’m playing Project Cars 2.
To call PC2 the Dark Souls or racing games isn’t quite right. It’s not that it’s just hard and requires you to ‘git gud.’ Its demands are far higher than that. From the very moment you start the game, it’s strongly suggested you begin at the rookie section of the game which consists of… go karts and average cars. “Oh, you played Forza? That’s cute. Learn to drive for real, dumbass.” I got schooled in the way of racing as crash after crash, restart after restart, I failed to even finish one race in anything other than last place. That’s if I manage to finish a race at all, which was also infrequent.
The legitimacy of the game’s mechanics can be seen right there in the settings when you decide how much help you want/need from the game. Back when I played Gran Turismo Sport, I had to set the game’s assists to ‘Expert’ because the ‘Intermediate’ car practically drove itself. By the end of Forza Horizon 3, I had almost all assists turned off and had the car’s AI set to Pro. In Forza Motorsport, it’s the same but I leave traction control on and race against ‘Highly Skilled’ drivatars. I’m great at these games, I had fun and I loved them. Project Cars 2? Almost all of the assists are on and I still can’t catch a break. And the number of settings there are to adjust are mind-numbing, just look at the general settings screens: [Click here for HQ]
You see that? I can’t catch a break even with all of the help the game is willing to give me. It doesn’t help that the cars you’re up against don’t seem to have any difficulty slider, and in many cases, they don’t feel like they have to obey the rules of the road as much as you do. I’ve had to restart a race 8 times because I accidentally clipped a corner or bumped into a car. These infractions can sometimes force you into the pit lane as punishment.
Another problem seems to be the controls. It appears that the game was on showcase frequently with a full steering wheel and pedal set. Driving wheels cost quite a bit, usually in the $400 range unless they are on sale. Playing the game on a regular controller doesn’t always feel right, as if it wasn’t optimized to play on it. I’m sure Project Cars 2 is a spectacular one-to-one recreation of real driving if you have a wheel. But for that price, you can also get a PSVR. Funny enough, this game has VR support on PC but not on the PS4. Not that it matters, as I’m playing it on my Xbox One.
Again, the game can get rather infuriating. You can race again and again and again and never improve. At some point, you may think that I may be being spoiled by Forza’s rewind mechanic. While I do admit it improves the racing experience, I still play plenty other racing games and fare just fine without being able to rewind. Rewind is merely an evolution of the game. It’s not cheating at the game, but instead is the game telling you that you did something wrong and that you have to do it over and over to get it right. But that’s just it. When you screw up in Forza, you hit the rewind button repeatedly until you fix it. With Project Cars 2, you end up pressing the ‘Restart Race’ button many times because in most cases, crashing will leave you so far behind there’s no point in attempting to catch up. Honestly, one of my best friends is a bonafide gearhead and racing game aficionado and even he says that this game is too hard to be enjoyed.
The game is kind of boring too. It flaunts its rules and pinpoint precision in racing mechanics, but that doesn’t make the game fun, it just makes it realistic. And that’s not always fun, especially when it’s to the extent that this game has implemented. The game doesn’t give you a whole lot in terms of motivation to keep racing, you just fail and that’s the end of it. So, having played around 5 hours of this game, I just don’t really want to play it anymore unless I’m feeling particularly masochistic. This game might be perfect for many people out there, but as a person who is more of a gaming enthusiast than a racing enthusiast, this doesn’t quite work out. Here’s the basic rating the game gets, based on our scoring system.
Doesn’t look as good as the average racing game lately. If your racing game doesn’t look absolutely gorgeous, something terribly wrong has happened.
I have no idea if the game offers more encouragement down the line, but as of right now, it’s practically nonexistent. The game feels empty despite everything it has to offer.
Car sounds are as true to life as is expected from a racing sim. But the soundtrack is dismal, with annoying and overly dramatic movie score music playing on the main menu and nothing else.
This game truly is about as non-fictional as a racing game can get, if that hasn’t been made apparent in the rest of this article.
Imagine being so annoyed by a game that you go off on a rant about it instead of doing a proper review. That’s what just happened here.
Gran Turismo Sport worked really hard to make sure that their game would be taken super seriously. They had an official racing aggregator schedule and maintain all instances of online races. You are forced to watch an orientation video before participating. This game really wants you to make sure you know the rules of real world racing. It’s too bad that only the rules were the most “realistic” part of this “driving sim”.