Initially, even though I’m late to the party, I wanted to do a straight forward review of Project Cars 2. That was until I got down to playing it and realised just how terrible it actually was. As I was sat playing it, I started to think just how much in this day and age driving games can actually differ.
I have always been a fan of driving games for as long as I can remember, owning every single version of Gran Turismo that was released (and still have them all now), but it goes further back than that to the likes of Continental Circus and Microprose Grand Prix.
I seem to remember that I liked the first Project Cars. It came across as a fun arcade style racer which did feature a lot of tracks from around the world. My memory of it may not be amazing, but I was looking forward to getting hands on with its follow up game. The first thing I noticed before I even started on my career path was playing the one race I was allowed to try as the game installed. I was thrown into the seat of a McLaren driving around the Long Beach Street Circuit and oh god was I in for a shock. The handling was awful, if I strayed even the slightest bit off the racing line, the engine died, auto brakes kicked in and the car started to twitch all over the place. Then I realised that both steering assist and brake assist were active so I turned them off in the options. That alleviated the dying power at least and the handling felt a little better for me. The biggest annoyance however was the sound. The car sounded horrendous, like a diesel that seriously needed an oil change. The only other way I could describe it was the noises you inadvertently make the day after a curry from a take away.
I hoped that this was just a one off, but after the game had fully installed I started my career in an open wheel season and the cars sounded exactly the same. In fact most of the cars throughout the entire game sound exactly the same; awful.
So, this game is billed as a ‘Hyper-realistic driving game’? I think not!
A few weeks prior to playing this I got my hands on Dirt 4. Now this has always been a great franchise, let down by some releases in my opinion, but generally a sure fun buy. Obviously there is Rally Cross races thrown into the mix of the various rallying genres. PC2 has also incorporated the Rally Cross into its career mode, and the same tracks which feature in Dirt 4. Great, I thought, I’ve played them in Dirt 4 so I have experience driving them. Its just a pity both games are poles apart.
Dirt 4 is amazing. There’s no other way to describe it. The engine sounds and the handling physics are out of this world. The only way you could probably beat it is to get into a car and do it for yourself. PC2 however, to put it politely is erm, shit. It is nearly impossible to drift a car properly around the track which is achieved with ease in Dirt 4. Again, the engines sound terrible and nothing like they should and the tracks look awful. In fact, comparing the tracks you find within PC2 with the likes of Dirt 4 and also Gran Turismo Sport, not to mention previous releases, they fall very short of the mark.
According to the PC2 website, the tracks are all scanned meticulously. What exactly they have been scanned from escapes me. I have raced the various tracks on offer in plenty of other games, not to mention actually driving the real life Silverstone myself and these are some of the worst ones I have found within a game. Plus if you have the view set to the rear of the car there is ghosting around the rear wheels which makes it feel like the car isn’t even in contact with the road. The only other game I have ever found this in was the ill-fated Driveclub and it put me off that game as well.
Now, there is a point to my complaining and also comparing. As I said earlier, in this day and age, why do games like this vary so much? Yes, we all know that the likes of Gran Turismo has always pushed the boundaries in what you can do with the latest hardware. The photo realistic graphics, handling and engine sounds have always amazed me, even though I look back on the first game now and wonder how at the time I ever thought it looked real. Now, I know there will also be Xbox fans out there that say Project Gotham Racing beats GT. I have played the games on Xbox, and I personally wasn’t a fan, however, that being said, the graphics were nice and the cars sounded like they should. It was just a little to arcade styled for my liking, but still a hell of a lot better than what is offered in PC2. The Dirt franchise has always been one where even if the graphics let it down slightly, which it rarely did, the handling physics were always on point.
Then you get into the technicalities of front wheel drive, rear wheel drive and 4 wheel drive cars. There is a world of difference in the handling of these vehicles which becomes seriously apparent in the license tests for Gran Turismo. Put a little too much power down round a corner in a rear wheel drive car and the back end skids out and you end up facing the wrong way looking head on at a field of cars coming straight for you. Not in PC2, all cars no matter what you are driving act the same way as the others. There’s no difference at all and I find it highly frustrating that I want my back end to step out a little so I can initiate a little drifting in some instances, but it doesn’t happen. So what’s the point in having the different drive trains? It makes no sense at all as it does not add to the game.
I struggle to see what they were aiming for in PC2. If they want to label the game as a Hyper-Realistic driving game then there needs to be so much more attention to detail both in handling physics with each individual car and the engine sounds. Then the same can be said for the details of the tracks. Yes, they look nice, but surely that’s what you come to expect from your lovely console now anyway? They are just not quite realistic enough for them to be in a so-called realistic driving sim. At least you know where you stand with Dirt 4, its an arcade blast. The tracks can self generate themselves and don’t claim to be courses that you find on the World Rally Tour, but then I go back to the Rally Cross again. Both games have used the same tracks yet Dirt 4 looks 100 times better and throwing your car into massive drifts to corner is second nature and so much fun. In PC2 you struggle to even get the car to turn how you want it to, let alone drift a corner.
I look at the average reviews for PC2 and wonder just how much some of these sites were paid to give a glowing review. It does happen unfortunately. You read a glowing review and rush out to buy the game. That’s how the developers make their money after all. I personally pride myself on being completely skint and dont make money from my reviews. My reviews are from an honest point of view. If I think a game is crap, I’ll say so, and in this instance, although I’m late to deliver my points on the game I will still tell you to avoid it like the plague. In a market place which is saturated with so many games in the same genre, there are many better options for you to spend your money on. Project Cars 2 is a total waste of money, even if you pick it up cheap second hand.
I guess this has turned out to be a review of a terrible game when I wanted to try and find out just why there is so much difference between racing games, not to mention those that class themselves as simulators. I guess I had better give PC2 a score out of 10 in that case.
2/10 and that’s being generous. There will be people out there that will like it, but I’m sure there’s more ‘hard core racing fans’ that will hate it as much as I have. Seriously, spend your money on a curry and you too can recreate the engine sounds the morning after for yourself.