Slightly Mad studios gave us a sneak peak at Project Cars 2, one of the most highly anticipated racing games since GT Sport. Now featuring Rallycross tracks and cars, as well as the same circuit tracks that made the first game so popular, Project Cars 2 is pitching itself as a one-stop shop of racing fun – even venturing into the territory of DiRT. So is it any good? Here’s what I thought.
Project Cars 2 Hands-on: Twitchy gameplay, nice visuals
At yesterday’s hands-on event, you could play Project Cars 2 in two different ways – with a joypad and monitor, or in VR, in a racing seat with a steering wheel and pedals. All set ups were on PC too, so I’m not sure what the game will be like on console. To beat the queues, I tried the game on joypad and jumped into one of the Project Cars 2’s new Rallycross stages. I haven’t used a pad to race in a little while – I have a Thrustmaster T300RS at home – but my first impression of the game was ‘super twitchy and sensitive.’
When trying to slide the Ford Focus RS RX I was in, I found the car seemed to snap into oversteer almost without warning – and when it did there was very little I could do. In games like DiRT for instance, it’s easy to use the throttle and steering to control slides when you feel the car getting away from you – but Project Cars 2 was less intuitive. Instead, it was very easy to send the car into ‘pendulum-style’ loop of too much oversteer and correction.
Switching to an Indycar at Long Beach proved similar to have similar results. Just as with the Rallycross car, the Indycar felt skittish and slightly unpredictable – even at high speeds – and it felt as though you were always just a fraction of throttle away from an all-out spin. Other games like Assetto Corsa give you the same feeling, but there’s a little more feedback before you found yourself pointing the wrong way.
Moving onto GT cars around the Red Bull Ring gave me the same feeling. Compared to the super sensitive Rallycross cars and the Indycar, the Acura GT car I was in felt far more stable and planted to the road – and it certainly let me get away with more too. However, there were times when it seemed to spin me out, without a hint of sliding or screeching beforehand.
After some pad time, It was time to move on to the VR, steering wheel set up. Taking place again at Long Beach, in the Indycar, I felt as though it’ll be a better test of the game. Wrong. First, the VR. While the Rift might be one of the best VR headsets you can get right now, the framerate and graphics were similar to a PS VR – and the game looked far better on the monitor feed.
What’s more, the pedals and steering wheel used were also high-end. That meant the brake pedal was set up like a race-car, with very little travel, and lots of force needed to stop the car. At the same time, there was also far more noise than you’d want in ideal conditions, so it was also impossible to hear the revs. The noise meant I had to use the shift lights to know when to change, but in the slightly gritty VR headset, it wasn’t that easy to see.
But despite that, weaving the car through the walls of Long Beach slowly became enjoyable; and the VR headset came into its own when trying to place the wheels as close to the walls and kerbs as possible. Stepping on the brake and slowly coming in with the throttle became more intuitive too, but because I couldn’t hear revs or wheelspin, I had to correct the car or back off quite at a few corner exists.
Due to the noise and tricky vision, it was impossible to get a good grip of the game. The proof was in the times; I got something like a 1:16:00 lap on the pad, and then a 1:19:00 using the wheel – and generally using a wheel and pedal setup makes you a few seconds faster.
However, one thing all tasters of the game had in common were how amazing they looked. Project Car was always one of the better looking racers on the PC and PS4, but it looks like Slightly Mad has stepped things up for Project Cars 2. Day to night transitions – something missing from GT Sport weirdly – looked amazing in Project Car 2, and the overall definition and quality of the graphics when viewed on a screen were great.
VR drags well behind, even on the high end PCs we were using – but I’d say Project Cars 2 looked slightly better than Driveclub VR or DiRT’s VR experience.
Project Cars 2: Hands on verdict
So, is Project Cars 2 any good? At this stage of development, and with the time I had it’s difficult to say. On a pad at least, the game is twitchier than you’d expect – and when on the Rallycross mode, the handling isn’t what you’d call enjoyable for a quick dip in. Sure, it gets better depending on the car you’re in – and the amount of time you spend with the game can only help, but overall there’s something slightly skittish about all the cars I drove.
With a wheel, it’s even harder to draw conclusions – partly because the equipment we were using probably cost several thousand dollars – and I couldn’t hear anything. Overall then, Project Cars 2 might look the part, but it may need a few tweaks before it’s ready to match up to realistic – yet understandable – handling of Assetto Corsa.