Ever since early this year, a debate has raged as to whether Gran Turismo Sport or Forza Motorsport 7 will rise to claim the title of best racing game around. In the meantime, Konami have quietly been working on Project CARS 2.
The original Project CARS released to “eh…” reviews from critics around the time the PS4 originally came out. While certain aspects of the graphics were lauded, the game’s AI and handling characteristics were widely criticised, particularly as it was the only game on PlayStation that had a major answer to Forza 6 at the time.
It was also buggy at launch, felt unfinished, and relied on constant updates to improve its catalogue of cars and game modes, meaning Project CARS was effectively a dying project before it ever really became the game it was supposed to be.
As such, Project CARS largely faded into obscurity. Now though, with the release of Project CARS 2, its developers have made a major statement – putting their rivals at Microsoft and Polyphonics well and truly on notice.
Critics have heralded Project CARS 2 as perhaps one of the greatest comeback stories in recent gaming history – such a marked improvement on the first that it makes the original look positively obsolete.
New features in PC2 include an updated weather system, entirely retuned handling for both gamepads and steering wheels, as well as a host of new content throughout both the newly restructured career modes and online multiplayer. The former now features things like a licensed IndyCar Series, and a restructured progresssion through to the upper-tiers of motorsport, while the latter has been revamped to cater to the eSport crowd, which is important considering what Gran Turismo Sport is planning with it’s FIA Online World Championship.
PC2 also seems to feature far more visual elements to make the racing world seem a step more realistic than it did in Project CARS 1. The cars have more licensed branding, there are a host of new broadcast viewing modes, and the cars themselves clunk, squeal, shudder and shake in a far more natural way as you tackle each track.
It’s safe to say that all these changes have made the critics sit up and take notice. On Metacritic right now the PS4 version has a rounded score of 87/100 from 17 critics, which is pretty bloody impressive. Here’s what some of the leading voices in gaming had to say.
“The handling has been tuned to a T, the content is excellently curated, and the amount of variety and racing available in it is delightfully daunting… when I’m out on track wringing ten-tenths out of my car against just the right AI level – one eye on the car ahead and the other on the clouds above – this is about as good as real racing gets right now.” – Luke Reilly, IGN (9.2/10)
“Project CARS returns to the shelves with a much improved second installment that places special emphasis on simulation and a sick obsession with detail.” – Ricardo Fernandez, Meristation (9/10)
“This unprecedented level of simulation is, as you’d expect really, Project CARS 2’s crown jewel. Driving is its own intrinsic joy, more so than in its 2015 ancestor and to these hands better than rivals rFactor 2 and iRacing.” – Phil Iwaniuk, PC Gamer (8.9/10)
“Project CARS 2 addresses most of the flaws of its predecessor while expanding its scope, and in doing so has carved out a new niche for the series. It might not be the absolute best in any of its classes, but if you want to race and have fun in a bunch of ways without buying a bunch of expensive games, this might be your golden ticket.” – Stirling Matheson, Rock Paper Shotgun
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