2017 is a magical year for fans of virtual motor racing, with the largest amount of racing game releases in history. It has everything to do, from remastered and classic games like BAJA - success on PS3 and Xbox 360, until the return of one of the most beloved racing franchises, Gran Turismo.
The crucial question is that there are games for all types of audience: those who like arcades, just to have fun with friends; those who like something a little more challenging, and, of course, those who love a real challenge and even participate in virtual championships.
In a week when the competition said something else, with the releases of Forza MotorSport 7 and Project CARS 2, and then Gran Turismo Sport, the players were the ones who won. For now I will focus on Project CARS 2 for Playstation 4, which promised many new things about the first game. It remains to be seen whether he has fulfilled them.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about racing games is its gameplay, or rather "drivability." Project CARS 2 has changed a lot in this respect. There is the good side and the bad side, for the sadness of many. No, do not think the game is bad! On the contrary, it is much more challenging, and although it is not yet a complete simulator - old GTR times !, it comes quite close. The point is that because it is much more difficult, the probability of casual players moving away is gigantic.
Many people who play racing games on the consoles do not even have a good set of steering wheel and pedal, and that's the biggest problem. The first Project CARS was easy to run with the normal control of both Playstation 4 and Xbox One consoles. It was easy to win races, keep cars on track, tune curves. Of course with flywheel the experience was much higher, but the fact is that this second edition prioritized the steering wheel sets.
It's definitely much harder to play with just the standard control. I tried all kinds of controls, but I could not even complete a lap without running or knocking, and even with all the aids enabled. I confess that I found it strange and made it a point to put the two editions together and compare every detail of the gameplay, and in fact it is much more difficult to play Project CARS 2 with control.
The vehicles are more clumsy, more unpredictable and harder to tame. Even with a steering wheel, I took about 5 laps in order to understand and control a simple BMW GT3, the car I used to run in Project CARS 1, so I figured it would be easy in this sequence. Ledo mistake. It was necessary to relearn how to fly. This happened with all the cars I used, even with the simple Formula R.
One of the new features that contributed to this more difficult difficulty is an option that makes the cockpit camera shudder more realistically at high speeds. It's called "High Speed Swing," and with it on the race becomes more frantic, and you have the distinct feeling that you're losing control of the car.
There are still some unrealistic details that hinder more than they help. For example, in a training with GT5 cars the behavior of the vehicle was normal and it was possible to make good times back without much difficulty, including the stability of the car was notorious. Perfect. I finished fourth, I went straight to the race and to my surprise the car just looked like another. Very far from the performance and maneuverability of the training. It was literally another car. I restarted dozens of times and there was no point: every time I went to race, the car behaved strangely, it did not even look like a GT5.
After several tests in both race mode and fast racing mode, I discovered that the problem was the "climate" of the race. The workouts were under the sun with clear skies where the car was great and stable, and the race was in cloudy weather where the vehicle looked different. It is a bit strange this radical change of behavior just because the weather was cloudy, even without it having rained. And the worst, there is nothing to do. I changed the tire to test and it did not work. The way was to run anyway.
Problematic Artificial Intelligence
What good is the gameplay to be improved, if it looks more like a simulator, if opponents behave if robotic and repetitive? Well, this is the Artificial Intelligence of Project CARS 2. Of course in the first version of the game AI was not a thousand wonders, but you could play normally any race without many problems, and even with the crowded grid. Both in fast races and in career mode.
This second version in many moments the IA did not allow the progress of the race, as for example in Bathrust, where in the start half of the grid hit, and this was repeated by 5 times and in all the same thing happened. The solution was to halve the number of cars in the race, but still crashed but this time the race continued. A similar case happened with cars of Formula A and X, where in a normal line some cars began to fly, generating several collisions.
The difficulty level of Artificial Intelligence also has serious problems. In order to have no doubts, I compared the two editions of Project CARS with the same cars, same circuit and same difficulty. The cars of the second summer of the game run a barbarity. Much faster than the first. At a level of 55% the difference reaches 5 seconds faster in Project CARS 2. Even reducing the difficulty, there were still differences ranging from 2 to 5 seconds. Even with level at 10% only.
Taking advantage of the tests with the difficulty of Artificial Intelligence, I decided to test the level of aggressiveness of the cars, after all could be the problem of the constant collisions quoted above. Well, it did not help, I tested both extremes: 0 and 100, and both cars hit the same way in the start.
Obviously the problems of Artificial Intelligence do not happen in Multiplayer, which turns out to be the most fun part of the game. The highlight is the Community Events that consist of race with date marked. There is plenty of evidence already scheduled until literally Christmas, December 25th.
The Online Browsing area is the classic place where dozens of racing rooms are created by players, each with its own characteristics such as fixed camera requirement, or limitation of aids, and the varied rules defined by the player who created them.
The interesting thing is that a complete championship can be created based on real rules of each category and with the right to narrator and transmitter, if it wants to be transmitted live.
In addition there is a specific e-Sports area with complete and up-to-date information and information from the Project Cars 2 Virtual Championships.
Although the look is beautiful at many times and normal in others, the big question is: will inventing both visual and gameplay a good idea in a racing game? I ask this because Project Cars 2 brings something totally surreal that is its gigantic climatic variation. This is because the variation goes from a sunny day, through a huge fog, a very strong storm and even a huge snowfall where the player does not see anything.
Okay. There are circuits where these climatic variations even occur in real life, but imagine a huge blizzard in the Spa circuit? Or a haze followed by snow in Monaco? In total there are 17 variations and valid for almost all tracks.
During career mode, I did not see anything abnormal in races. That is, the climatic part was according to reality in all the circuits in which I ran. Madness begins at fast races, because in that case it is all customizable and this parallel reality of having a surreal blizzard is possible. It's curious.
Beautiful graphics, but expensive
The circuits are all well detailed. More than in the previous game. The cars are idem. From improved textures to lighting and HDR effects, with a larger audience - though most are static - to the effects of wind and weather, everything is beautiful, but there is a high price to pay: performance.
The version tested was that of the Playstation 4, and while the first game in most of the time the game ran at 60 frames per second, in the second version this happens only a few times, usually when there is no rain or less drastic climatic variation. Even at times when running at 60 frames, the game does not look as smooth as the first. This happens because of the amount of detail in the circuits.
The vehicles are all ultra detailed both internally and externally. What is most striking are the cockpits, which as well as the competitor of the Forza franchise, are the highlights. It's amazing the level of detail of each display, each panel, steering wheel, even the riders glove seem real with textures in high definition. An interesting detail is that the producer has maintained the function of "bench", that is, the player can raise, lower, approach or distance the "seat" of the steering wheel.
Obvious that not everything is flowers. The game still sins of the same problem of the first: the medium external textures where up close is ugly and by far beautiful.
Cars and Circuits
Project Cars 2 brings a huge variation cars. There are cars for every taste where the gameplay changes radically. There are 54 categories, some of them with only one vehicle. Among them is WRX, Vintage Touring, Road, StockCar, LMP, Kart, Indycar, GT, Formula Renault, among others.
All in all there are 187 cars including cars such as Ligier, Algajanian, Audi, Chevrolet, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Opel, Ferrari, Cadillac, BMW, Ford, KTM, Lotus, Honda, Jaguar, Ginetta, Marek, McLaren, Mazda, Porsche, Pagani, Nissan, Mini Couper, among others.
The circuits are not behind. It is the largest amount ever seen in a racing game for consoles, with a total of 53 scenarios, 132 different circuits, all meticulously recreated, ranging from classics, road tracks, Rally and even ovals.
Among them are the Circuits of Brno, Monza, Barcelona, Le Mans, Long Beach, Fuji, Dubai, Donington Park, Mojave, Oschersleben, Road America, Red Bull, Sugo, Texas, Zolder, Watkins Glen, Spa Francorchamps, Silverstone, Oultun Park, among others.
The analysis took time to get ready because a 6.7 gigabyte patch came out last week that promised to fix a lot in the game and I decided to wait to see what would actually change.
The performance has improved a lot, the game is now smoother on PS4. Several bugs have been corrected, such as the steering wheel locked inside the box and the loss of position at the end of training.
But others continue, like the bugs of the difficulty and aggressiveness of the Artificial Intelligence that sometimes prevent to have a clean race the serious one and others more.
Project Cars 2 is an ambitious game that consolidates the franchise among the best in terms of racing games. There are vehicles for every taste and a set of circuits to make any competitor jealous.
The multiplayer part is one of the best among competitors, referring to classic simulators like GTR, GT Legends, among others.
But the game still lacks care. There are a lot of bugs that really get in the way and some have made me give up some categories in Career mode. When the game was released, the idea was a game that lacked the famous "finishing touches", the finishing, due to the number of bugs found. Some even bizarre like cars flying out of nowhere. The game could easily get score 9 or more, but the bugs did not.
The big 2.0 patch just came in last week correcting a lot of the bugs, but as far as I can see, the main ones still continue to happen as the problems with the Artificial Intelligence of both aggressiveness and difficulty.
For those who enjoy racing games, Project Cars 2 is compulsory without any doubts, but it's still good to prepare to have a little patience with it.
- Beautiful graphics and HDR support
- Huge range of circuits
- Climate change
- More options in Career mode
- More simulator than the first game
- More Challenging
- Exaggerated climatic variation in some moments
- Learning curve is long
- Exaggerated difficulty
- IA runs on rails
- It will take away those who do not have steering wheel and pedal assembly
- Polishing missing
- Bugs, many bugs