Slightly Mad Studios, which had previously worked on titles like Need for Speed Shift, Shift 2: Unleashed and the first Project Cars, was very clear that for this second installment it was necessary to improve the design of the game, enhance its online functionality and spend a lot of effort polishing the gameplay. Thanks to them, Project Cars 2 manages to take the simulation a step further and, not only find an outstanding title in this section, but also one of the most immersive, exciting and addictive experiences we remember within the genre.
The most realistic simulation
The first thing we want to highlight is the faithful recreation of the behavior of cars. Project Cars 2 comes with a new physics engine that analyzes in detail the weight and power of vehicles, reacting with their environment and offering us a plausible gameplay. To achieve this, one of the sections that has been completely remodeled is the tire management system ; this allows us to feel the wear of the rubber, its adhesion according to the state of the asphalt and the weather, also takes into account factors such as the inclination of the wheels, their pressures or deformation, which substantially modifies the behavior of the car.
All this additional information is complemented with an exceptional recreation of the asphalt. It is hard to remember a video game that has been able to reproduce in such detail the roughness of the pavement, its irregularities, achieving with it a tremendously immersive sensation. Logically, the last factor influencing our piloting is the weather. In Project Cars 2, we find a total of 18 options, which will be evolving in real time thanks to the new Live Track 3.0 system.
This meteorological functionality allows us to see a gradual change in the state of the track and its repercussions to the car’s behaviour, feeling little by little how the temperature of the asphalt changes, improving the grip or accumulating water before the inability of the track to absorb all the rain. In addition to worrying about not doing aquaplaning or excessive wear and tear on the high temperatures, we will also find tracks with snow, circuits with poor visibility due to the fog and strong winds, which will affect the stability of the cars as never before seen in a racing simulation title.
To make the proposal even more ambitious, the title incorporates a total of nine different categories: Rallycross, Indycar, Gran Turismo, Prototypes, Karts, Open Wheels, Touring Cars. Each one of them will have its own rules (including training laps, launched departures, official sanctions system, pit stops …) and a control perfectly adapted to the characteristics of the vehicles and routes, highlighting the new discipline rallycross, where we find a more aggressive and dynamic piloting.
Project Cars 2 offers a fantastic experience in any of these disciplines, since it uses all the information of the car, the tires, the asphalt, the climatic conditions or the new system of the differential, to transmit them to the player with a great fidelity. However, it is important to note that the title has been designed to be played with a steering wheel and, although we can enjoy the experience with controller or keyboard, the experience will be far from being the best.
It has been completely remodeled Force feedback system of the flyers and includes a huge amount of configuration parameters and compatibility with such prestigious brands as Logitech, Thrustmaster or Fanatec. Before starting to compete we can choose between four driving profiles: Immersive, Informative, Pure or Custom, the latter being exclusive to the PC version. Depending on the profile we will feel greater resistance in the steering wheel and a different feedback in the displacement of tires and suspension.
Whether with the steering wheel or steering wheel, we find a high level of demand in the piloting that will require a great dedication to be able to perceive and to process all the information of the car and to have the sufficient touch with the steering wheel and the pedals for the best performance. Also, thanks to the variety of disciplines, circuits, and vehicles, we will always find challenges at our level to test our skills.
For more detailed pilots, Project Cars 2 also includes an enormous amount of configuration parameters related to tires, brakes, chassis, suspension, shock absorbers, engine, gears or differential, being able to adjust even the smallest details within each section. However, if the challenge seems too complicated, we will also have a track engineer who will give us advice about our problems and will indicate the best solutions to change the behavior of the car. Undoubtedly, a very well implemented and necessary help.
The title also includes a complete aid system that will determine the realism of our experience. In this configuration panel, we can modify aspects such as activation of mechanical faults, rules and penalties, fuel use, dynamic tracing or assist steering, braking and driving, this last section with antilock brakes, stability control and traction control. Obviously, all these aids will greatly determine the final experience, which can substantially reduce the level of realism and difficulty.
Finally, we have to talk about artificial intelligence; in this title, we find a higher level of realism and more competitive rhythms, thereby making the playable experience much more immersive. When defining the difficulty, we will have two parameters: Competitiveness and Aggressiveness. The first one measures the quality of the riders and their race rhythms, while the second modifies the behavior of the rivals to better close the spaces, to try more dangerous overtaking or to be more aggressive at the start. Lastly, AI also reacts dynamically to race situations, so if you press them, they will start making mistakes and even getting off the track.
One of the most criticized sections of the previous installment was it’s chaotic and little exciting career mode, however, in Project Cars 2 we will enjoy a more organized, gradual and addictive structure. The main novelty is that we can define our trajectory by choosing between four different categories: Rallycross, Gran Turismo, Prototypes and Formula, each offering a multitude of races and championships. So, as we achieve the objectives we will evolve in that specialty, enjoying along the way a gradual and well-balanced learning.
To make the experience more dynamic, at the end of the championships we can change between the different specialties, which gives greater dynamism to the way and allows us to better understand the behavior of all disciplines. In total we will have 29 trophies, being able to choose in each of them the number of tests (short or long), as well as practice sessions, classification, and duration of the race. In addition to these challenges, we will also be able to obtain a total of 160 medals, which we will obtain for winning tests and championships.
As if all this extensive and deep experience seemed short, Trajectory mode also includes Manufacturer Events, which we will unlock increasing the affinity with the different brands through the use of their vehicles, and Historical Events, special tests that will lead us to overcome challenges very particular. No doubt, Slightly Mad Studios has learned from their mistakes and, although the mode does not include elements of management, nor a personalized story beyond winning races (which may end up being tedious), the truth is that the mode is extensive and offers constant challenges, besides being the ideal tutorial to enter the real competition.
Competing against the world
One of the most ambitious points of Project Cars 2 is its clear commitment to online competitions. In this new delivery, we will support 32 players on PC (including dedicated servers) and 16 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. In order to professionalize the experience to the maximum, the British study has implemented a pilot card. This license will change according to our results and style of piloting taking into account two elements: Sports and Competitiveness.
The first factor will measure our style of piloting, assessing aspects such as not causing accidents, respect the margins of the circuit or not skip the rules, this behavior reflected in our license with a letter (UFEDCBAS). Competitiveness will measure our quality as drivers, not only for our results but also for the expertise of online rivals. In this way, if we win races against better drivers we will get more points, measuring the overall performance with a number that will also appear in the license and that will go from 100 to 5000.
The addition of this classification system is a good thing since it is very effective to search for races and online championships. On the other hand, when creating events, we can define the level of competitiveness and aggressiveness of our rivals, thus achieving a great experience. To test our skill has been incorporated a new online option called Championships; here we can create or join championships to play several races, having to define the number of rivals, the type of car, the circuit or the rules.
The online mode also includes the option to create or search careers, being able to limit the search according to a multitude of parameters. Other very interesting options are Online Events, where we will have to face in special conditions and for a limited time to the best pilots in the world, and a classic mode that will allow us to test our best records.
Seeking to enhance the presence of Project Cars 2 in e-Sports, we find a special option that will allow us to see live events, know the latest news, remember previous competitions and consult the schedule of upcoming events. Undoubtedly, thanks to the variety of options to create and search for evidence, the enormous utility of the competition license and the great speed and stability of the online service, we are faced with an outstanding section that will greatly lengthen the gaming experience.
If we prefer to compete alone, the title also includes very interesting options: the first of these is Personal Racing; here we will be able to simulate real competitions defining the car, circuit, climatic conditions, level of the IA or normative. Another interesting modality is Private Test, where we will only run against the clock, and we will be able to define a multitude of parameters to train for hours with the aim of knowing in detail our favorite car or circuit.
Vehicles and circuits
Another section in which Project Cars 2 has taken a giant step, is in the supply of cars and tracings. This time we have more than 200 vehicles divided into several categories and belonging to such important brands as Ferrari, McLaren, Lamborghini or Mercedes-Benz. All of them have been perfectly modeled and textured, also offering improved sound thanks to the new recording systems in high quality. The downside is that, although the mechanical damage system is very precise, the visual level of the damage is very poor and, except for the breakage of crystals and some parts of the chassis, we will not have more information about it.
Concerning the circuits, we found 60 tracks with more than 200 variants, all of them with a perfect recreation of the track (thanks to the laser scan to which they have been subjected) and a good representation of the competitive environments, although it is cast in there is something more to life. Among the most emblematic places in which we can fly are Spa- Francorchamps, Imola or Nurburgring, being able to modify in all them the time of day or the climatic conditions.
A more realistic environment
The title has also made a significant qualitative leap to the visual level thanks to the new rendering system, which offers obvious improvements in effects and lighting. Now, in addition to being able to appreciate in detail and dynamically the particulates of rain, earth or snow, we will also see a great visual improvement in the climatic system and in the representation of the different hours of the day, obtaining with it very finished striking and a direct impact on the piloting.
In order to enjoy an even more realistic experience, the PC version includes a multitude of configuration parameters, which result in one of the most polished finishes we remember in the driving genre. At the technical level, we will have resolutions up to 4K and more than 60 frames per second, which guarantees a tremendously smooth experience. Users on PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X will also be favored by some of these improvements and, while obviously, the PC version is superior, the finish is still outstanding.
To further enhance the PC experience, Project Cars 2 includes launching compatibility with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, resulting in a tremendously immersive experience. In addition, we can configure parameters related to the position and movements of the camera, which adds more realism to the proposal. The downside is that we will notice the quality loss in the image due to the lower resolution, worse visual effects and obvious problems of popping that suffer from the glasses. Finally, we have no news of a possible compatibility with PlayStation VR on PS4, so we will have to wait to see if in the future we receive some kind of update.
The sound section has also been improved thanks to the new and powerful sounds of the vehicles. Thanks to the enormous sound quality, we can hear exactly the wheel that skids, the gearshift or the conditions of the asphalt, additional information very important if we want to be the fastest. The only negative is that the soundtrack is again composed of epic melodies that do not fit well with the video game.
Project Cars 2 is everything that fans of the first delivery were waiting for. Slightly Mad Studios has not only polished the simulation, notably improving the physics of cars, tire behavior, circuit recreation or weather effects but has also been concerned with creating a much more accessible and exciting trajectory mode, offer plenty of game options offline and online, including and, most important new cars and tracks, creating a much healthier and more competitive thanks to the new competition license and community service online full of options, fast and very stable .
There is no doubt that Project Cars 2 is an outstanding driving title that surpasses its predecessor and becomes by its merits in the best option for users of PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC who want to enjoy what it really means to enter the real competition.
We prepared this review with a PS4 download code provided by Bandai Namco.