2017 is going to be a huge year for sim racing, with GTR 3, DiRT 4, Project CARS 2, and more in development! Slightly Mad Studios’ Project CARS 2 is the title we know the most about so I wanted to spend a little time talking about that.
The original Project CARS was released in 2015, and was rather polarizing in the sim racing world. While it was by far the most jam packed racing title available (in terms of modes, features, tracks, etc), it left a sour taste in a lot of racers’ mouths (myself included). Glitches, broken promises, and things like that led to what I’d want to call squandered potential.
Now, two years later, we’re preparing for the launch of Project CARS 2. The title looks promising: PCARS 2 is getting dynamic weather, “loose surface racing”, and more content, but is that enough to redeem itself?
Relying on More Than Eye Candy
Project CARS, upon release, was being marketed as one of the best looking racing titles on the market, but that may not be something they can carry on their shoulders in 2017. This year, we are seeing many titles that will likely be very easy on the eyes:
- Forza Motorsport 7 will likely come out later this year
- GTR 3 is going to be a multi-platform release, and will be running Unreal Engine 4
- rFactor 2 will be migrating over to a DirectX 11-based graphics engine this year
- Gran Turismo Sport will likely see release this year
- Reiza Studios has a DX11 title planned for 2017
With these titles planned for 2017 graphics, Project CARS will need to have more than just the “eye-candy” elements. Focus does need to shift (no pun intended) over to the physics, how the car drives, and how the car interacts with the track.
LiveTrack 3.0 – Dynamic or Gimmick?
One of the main features teased in the Project CARS 2 announcement was the LiveTrack 3.0 functionality. The main focus of the title was the simulation of seasons, and water flowing on a race track. That’s nice and all, but my fear is that could be seen as a gimmick, if this is not done right. I don’t see many people chomping at the bit to race on Brands Hatch in December, but correct me if I’m wrong.
What I AM hoping is that Slightly Mad Studios focuses on the rubbering in of a track as well. That is an important element of racing, because the rubber build-up off the racing groove can affect a driver’s ability to pass.
If PCARS 2 is looking to have a stronger online presence, this would be a great way to simulate more real-world racing elements.
Behind The Scenes Does Matter
While Project CARS was a visual gem, and seemed to have all the makings of a great racing title, a lot of behinds-the-scenes gremlins caused chaos. The Artificial Intelligence left a LOT to be desired, with some cars not being able to compete a clean lap.
When I drove PCARS 2, the AI seemed a lot more competent. It could still benefit from further refining (sometimes they would make minor corner cuts), but it seemed a lot better than what I would see at times in PCARS 1.
In addition, the physics could benefit from some fine tuning. I had some weird issues at times, where I would hit “Land Mines”, and that would ruin a race. I even had that when I was driving Project CARS in January, 19 months after the initial release of Project CARS! I’m hoping Project CARS 2 will be able to iron out those issues, and provide a more complete solution.
We’ll Find Out Soon!
From what little I’ve driven of Project CARS 2, the report seems promising! It felt like a more refined package (think of “What Project CARS should have been”?), and seems like it could have more potential. I don’t think it will be the end-all-be-all racing simulation, but I don’t feel it was ever intended to be.
Come September (barring any delays), we’ll see what Project CARS 2 will shape up to be. I’m excited to see what happens. What are your thoughts? Let us know!