Project CARS 3 looks a bit controversial doesn’t it? It started life back in 2015 with aspirations to be a relatively serious racing game with simulation values at its core. The first game was a bit of a damp squib, but the second in 2017 was a huge, huge improvement. It still had its problems in mind, but had a rough diamond to work with. Now, Slightly Mad Studios, who back in 2018 was acquired by Codemasters, and they’ve now decided that the next in the series, Project CARS 3 should leave its sim beginnings, and now make a new home as an Arcade Racer. So, a silver bullet, or a misdirection? Let’s find out.
Let’s get the headline numbers out of the way. 211 cars on offer covering a wide spectrum of cars from hatchbacks, sports cars, and supercars. All the way up to 1200 HP future F1 cars, and also some Indy Cars and current-gen Formula E cars – which I’ve been asking for a long time. Some cars are missing like F1 and F3 cars, and the tracks however which has been a strong point for the series has had some additions notably the F1 track in Interlagos, Jerez, and street tracks in Havana, Shanghai and Tuscany. On the other hand, it also has removed Rallycross and some big names like Spa – so some good but some bad here. Overall, enough to get your teeth sunk into, but given that it has the current Formula E cars on hand, I would have at least expected a few tracks taken from Formula E to be used, however, with the grid size increased up to 30 cars on track does make it much more hectic and fun.
Now, how does it all handle out on the track? Well as I’ve previously mentioned there is a more of an emphasis on arcade handling, and it’s way easier to play than its predecessors. Still have to brake and turn like before, but considerably easier than before. One of my complaints is that it doesn’t feel nice, feels more like driving pendulums around the track, or in some cases shopping trolleys. Which brings me onto nicely the other changes to the gameplay – so there is no tyre wear, fuel, or damage at all, and even the setup options are scaled back considerably. So, no more seeing if you have the cajones trying to manage an 80s turbo F1 car with the boost up to the max, this makes me sad. For certain cars, there is a silver lining (more on that later), and the AI is aggressive, veering on overly aggressive in parts, and has the spatial awareness of a dog when food is about.
In the end it’s easy to adjust to though and fun enough, and unlike its predecessors, it’s constant across the board and doesn’t have odd cars that just feel like shit to drive. However, call me a conservative, but the handling in Project CARS 2 was more enjoyable, and had more feel to them. Nothing against accessibility and opening it up to new audiences at all, but the changes are too much. It doesn’t feel much like an accessible version of Project CARS more like a return to way back when Slightly Mad Studios made Need for Speed Shift.
Okay, so what do we have on offer. Well, career mode has also had a raft of changes. Gone is the choose your own motorsport adventure career mode, and now in its place is a straightforward affair. Working your way through a series of races starting out in sports cars and working up towards fully-fledged racing cars. And there are some invitations to real-world racing series like IndyCar and Formula E, but the catch is that you have to earn the cash first to buy the cars and then compete in them, which does bring it in line with the likes of Forza and Gran Turismo.
To progress, you can either earn enough cash to buy out, or complete the challenges in the races. Which doesn’t always translate to winning the race. With pedantic ones like “stay 10 seconds drafting and then overtaking them”, and honestly it’s just tedious to do them. There are other types of events from hotlapping to stringing together a series of laps to get a good average, and a billiard smashing one, which does break it up and it’s nice to see the variety. However, it’s a bit too generic overall and boring. Project CARS had a good angle with choosing your own motorsport adventure career it had before. Starting from karts and working your way up, and this just feels too Forza 7. There is a normal race mode where you can try out different cars and track them at your leisure, and online is just about okay but not very populated at all. Even after a few days after it was released, other than that, there are timed events, but other than that it’s just unspectacular.
You can customize your cars as well by adding performance upgrades that aren’t that dramatic. But can save cash and hassle in buying new cars constantly, baring events that require you to buy a car from the 1970s from France – as an example. Also, visual changes as well with vinyl’s and also sponsorship, tyres, and rims, and more which I do very much like. Also, the UI is way, way better.
Graphically, and pardon my francais, but what the fuck happened here? It looks horrible. Start menu looks alright but in the races it looks worse, like 5 years ago – bad. Environments look fuzzy, in the sense that it’s doused in flies that you would find around skips, and just basically it looks outdated, and the lighting is just as bad. PC3 didn’t have major bugs and glitches to report, but still doesn’t take away the fact it looks unpolished.
Now, the last thing I want to talk about is where does the series go from here? The game isn’t bad like Aliens Colonial Marines bad, there is fun to be had albeit I wouldn’t personally have paid full price for it, but you can extract some good times out of it, it’s a decent enough game.
The majority of the problem I have with the game is what the name meant. If the game was called “Project CARS: Shift”, it would have made more sense in hindsight. I would be much more positive and would have seen it as a suitable alternative to GRID last year which was dull, and ideas that were executed not brilliantly. In the end, it’s a Sequel. It took away some of its traits that made it stand out, and it’s like a redemption arc is like when the hero falls back into old habits. Now, the question is do they stay in those habits? Or return to what was working well for them and continue? Or in the most basic terms, what is it you actually want?
Project CARS 3
In its own right is a decent enough game: career mode, good amount of tracks and cars and very accessible gameplay, however, the problem is it’s thrown away what made it stand out. If this game was called anything different, this wouldn’t be a problem, but it’s called Project CARS 3. God-awful graphics, and equivalents of the likes Forza and Gran Turisimo do this so much better.
- Most accessible game in the series
- Decent enough career mode
- Fun enough to race in
- Looks about 5 years old
- Middle of the road generic
- Thrown away majority of what made it and up and coming racer with potential
- Graphics 0
- Gameplay 0
- Narrative 0
- Audio 0
- Technical 0