Home Previews Project CARS 2 Preview: Pedal (carefully) to the metal

Project CARS 2 Preview: Pedal (carefully) to the metal


Bandai Namco and Slightly Mad Studios won’t let me capture gameplay from Project CARS 2 because I’m a terrible driver.

I honestly don’t blame them.

One of the first gameplay capture guidelines issued to those previewing the title is simple: “Be a pro racer.” After flying into four corners in a row, breaking way too late, over-steering and then spinning my high-performance vehicle 180 degrees, I knew for certain I was rubbish.

The thing is, the very nature of Project CARS 2 means it won’t be long until I could consider myself a master.

This sequel builds upon Slightly Mad Studios’ first racing simulator, and continued play – even within an hour or two – forced a definite increase in my skills. I very quickly (had to) learn to break ahead of corners, looking for proper indications – either break markers or thick tyre marks – ahead of time. Once past the corner, I picked up it was then – and only then – that I put the pedal to the metal.

Project CARS 2 is meant for serious racers – you won’t find the likes of Forza’s highlighted drive lines on the track. You can’t turn on driving assists and speed into corners, confident that controls will break and magically keep you on the right path. Even with all the AI-assisted help in the world, you’re going to have to learn when and how to break, how to pick the perfect drive line – essentially, how to become the best driver that career mode wants you to be. You are always responsible for the heavy lifting.

Three hours in, and I wouldn’t dream of highlighted driving paths or assisted cornering. I was essentially forced to figure it out. While I’ve a long way to go, I feel a sense of accomplishment that’s rare for a simple video game.

I want more.

Tackling career mode, I went to the lowest rung possible – though there’s full control over pathways depending on initial skill. Cups range from good ol’ go karts to powerful Indy Cars, and each of the mode’s six tiers do allow for one-discipline focus, though you’re able to branch out if so inclined. You can really feel the difference between the different tiers too – as evidenced by frequent spin-outs when you’re treating a high-performance car like something from the 1970s.

Progress slowly.

While confident of my evolving skills, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Project CARS 2 really is designed for a wheel & pedal setup rather than a traditional controller; after all, we received a control set alongside the original game for purposes of review. While either control mode is adequate, there’s a real sense you’ll be able to transition your wheel & pedal skills from video game into the real world.

Expert drivers will love the challenge and realism that the title will bring, while those interested in the genre will find a potential masterclass in the game — provided they’re willing to stick out initial frustrations. Hang in there, driver.

Project CARS 2 will be available from 22 September on Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4.