Project Cars: The ultimate racing sim has the ultimate race

This Is Big. As if the impending release of Project Cars wasn't exciting enough for us simulated petrol heads, Slightly Mad Studios’ recent location reveal just made us whimper.

This pure-bred racing sim, which feels like a part stripped-out Gran Turismo, free of all of that game’s fluff, and a Need For Speed on, erm, speed, is playing a fantastic teasing game leading up to its March release. The latest location reveal added four established race tracks to its roster, the UK’s Snetterton and Donington Park will undoubtedly be used for the game’s touring car races, Laguna Seca’s infamous corkscrew will be here to make karting even more daunting than it already was; and then. And then. There is Le Mans. All 24 hours of it. With all 55 cars on the grid. [insert louder whimper here]

To hell with your protracted EVE Online space battles. Screw your Ocarina Of Time. We don’t even care, Minecraft. We’re getting our friends over (both of them), we’re stocking upon the worst energy drinks we can find and we’re doing the whole damn 24 hours.

Sure, Gran Turismo and a few others have had a real-time Le Mans. But none of these have even dared to pit us against the full roster of 54 on-track opponents in doing so.

In a game designed for persistence and endurance, this may be the ultimate racing sim milestone yet. We’ll probably never finish due to our inexplicable attraction to walls and opposing cars’ bumpers, but it won’t stop us trying.

This is a bold statement of intent from the developer. Project Cars is supposed to be the pure, immersive racing sim we’ve never really had. For all its allure, the sheer amount of mind-numbing Toyota Vitz tournaments and tiny hatchbacks before getting to the proper juicy stuff in Gran Turismo 5 and 6 wore us down more than harden us. And when we qualified on pole driving a Force India in the first race on a supposedly ‘hard’ setting, after crashing into a wall doing so in the last F1 game we can remember being interested in, we just turned the console off in pure disbelief.

So seeing the no-HUD, no-progress-points, no-bullshit approach with Project Cars is a godsend for us sports-game folk. There’s a calendar, there’s the option of a starting point, and there are races to be won if you want to progress.

Among the many additions to the car line-up, the karts are the most intriguing, if only because of racing games’ historical inability to make them either as realistic to control as the cars or as entertaining as Mario Kart. There will be two tweakable types on offer; 125cc shifter karts, presumably similar to the ones we saw in  Gran Turismo 6 and more powerful 250cc superkarts, ideal for tearing our limbs off in frustration in the Laguna Seca corkscrew.

In addition to the on-track additions, the introduction of community apps that can extract info from the on-screen action is another step toward the game’s authenticity. Apps like PCars Profiler and PCars Telemetry simulate what a pit crew or race engineer would see, offering in-depth information to analyse performance in frankly absurd detail. The inclusion of allowing community assistance in the development is most obvious here, and since racing games have traditionally only appealed to established racing and car fans, the hardcore approach to Project Cars could end up being its ticket to success.

All we care about, though, is getting through 24 hours of the most difficult race on Earth against a full freaking field of opponents without hitting anything too hard. That AI had better be good…


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