Game On: ‘Project CARS’ puts you behind the wheel

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There are many racing games on the market — kart, arcade, and probably the most competitive, simulation. The most popular are the “Gran Turismo” and “Forza” series, but they now have a new competitor called “Project CARS” (Community Assisted Racing Simulator). It does have a silly and somewhat vague name but it is very much a racing game. “Project CARS” is more of a pure form of racing then most. There aren’t all the bells and whistles you find in a game like “Need for Speed.” There is no pounding sound track or police chases, just driving.

If you love driving games there is something for you in “Project CARS.” There are 16 different game modes which have you driving all sorts of vehicles such as karts, formula one, muscle, touring, rally and more. The graphics are what you would expect from a new generation racer. SIM racers always looked good but this game looks amazing. To me, the most impressive thing about the graphics are the little touches, like moving grass and leaves, and all the weather effects. A lot of the detail is not that noticeable when you are driving because you are concentrating on the action but they are definitely apparent when watching someone else play or during replays.

The attention to detail isn’t just graphical, there are a ton of different cars you can race and all feel as distinct as the real life counterparts. I played several races in different categories and could really tell the difference between the different types of cars. The formula cars and cars built for racing handle well but the standard road cars not as much. The go-karts feel like you are racing a toy and are very light. Even though there is a pretty good amount of cars to choose from, a lot of them are not licensed so they aren’t cars you are going to recognize in real life. Having a cool car to drive is only half the fun, “Project CARS” has some of the most famous race tracks in the world gorgeously recreated in digital form.

I am more of a casual racing fan and really don’t know a lot about mechanics but I do like toying around with the customization options and there are crazy amounts of things to tweak. If you just want to play casually you can use the minor settings but if you want some performance from your vehicle, tweak all the things under parts — tires, transmissions, exhaust, shocks. If you aren’t a great driver there is breaking and stability assists you can turn on. You can even control where the on-screen maps are located. If you’re having trouble in your races you can control the A.I of the computer drivers, there is a sliding scale so you can determine how hard it is. If you feel like you are winning too much you can raise it for a real challenge.

The real draw of the game is the career mode, which has you play all the different car types but you can choose your level. The progression isn’t as rigid as some other racers on the market, you can start with cars and work up to formula one or anywhere in between. You can have multiple careers if you want to concentrate on different game play modes. If you want a real challenge you could try racing online, all of the normal play modes and everything functioned reliably. I didn’t do too well online because I didn’t customize my car too much so I felt outclassed. I think with more practice I might win some races online.

I liked “Project CARS.” It was graphically impressive and did a good job making me feel like a real racer. This is the most user friendly racing SIM game I have played. If you are a big fan of SIM racers you will love this game but you will probably want more licensed cars. You will like all the customization options and game play tweaks. It doesn’t totally recreate the wheel but it does stand out as a quality racing game. I can’t wait to see more from this series.