Project CARS 2 Review

Richard Walker

I made a big mistake. I dared to play Project CARS 2 without turning on any of the assists, and consequently spent far too much time nuzzling the tyre walls with my car. Yes, Project CARS 2 is a proper racing sim, and unless you mess around with the gameplay sliders, it's remarkably realistic. Taking in tuning, pit strategies, tyre wear, fuel, and even mechanical failures, Slightly Mad's sequel is a far more comprehensive affair than its predecessor, with a greater level of visual fidelity, more cars, more tracks, more everything.

For starters, the number of new racing disciplines makes Project CARS 2 a far weightier prospect, covering everything from supercar racing to open-wheel Indycar, go karting, ice racing, rallycross and beyond, the game is a celebration of all things motorsport. An exuberant celebration it is too, revelling in the most minute of details in the selection of cars on offer and the range of real-world circuits and locations. Almost every racing fan's wants and whims are catered for, and even the most casual of players will still get something out of Project CARS 2.

You've some catching up to do there, mate.

Slightly Mad's racer can be as balls-hard realistic or as child-like simple as you want, rival AI difficulty and aggression (cautious or psychotic) dictated by their respective sliders that enable to tailor the experience to your exact specifications. Project CARS 2 caters to all skill levels, with an expansive array of options and assists to toggle on or off, including racing lines, turn indicators, rules and regulations, and so forth. No stone has been left unturned when it comes to making the game welcoming to die-hard racing sim fans and newbies alike.

The original Project CARS did a similarly bang-up job in this department, ensuring sim purists are able to engage in 200 lap races that can be a test of endurance, or casual fans can jump in to a race, put in two laps and then get the hell out with a lovely, not particularly hard-earned podium position. Whether you're taking the easy route, the all assists off hardcore route or something in between, Project CARS 2 proves a mighty enjoyable racing game, its career taking you through a range of motorsport disciplines, across numerous events and series.

It's not exactly the most inspiring of career modes, being a straightforward procession of races, complete with practice sessions and qualifying, if you want the full experience, but it still offers ample variety and reason to push on through. Practice and qualifying is also optional and can be turned off, like practically everything else in Project CARS 2, so you can tear through the career or savour it, completing every single facet, again, based on your personal preference. You can also work through the career in pretty much any order you like, cutting your teeth in low tier go kart, Formula Rookie or Ginetta Juniors races working your way up into the higher tiers. Or you can skip the low tier 6 stuff and get straight into the good stuff.

Choose to start at the bottom and you'll need to earn your stripes in order to drive the Porsches, Ferraris and Lambos, while completing certain objectives for your team will unlock Invitational Events, like special historical races with vintage cars, challenging low grip races in trucks or rally cars, track specials and such. Drive and perform well with certain manufacturers, and you'll also raise your affinity, in turn unlocking special affinity events for that particular marque. There's plenty to do in career then, offering countless hours of racing, career goals to strive for and dozens of events, including the prestigious Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 hours.

Project CARS 2's handling model is uniformly superb too, the suspension and steering making for an engaging, enjoyable driving experience, improving considerably upon the first game. The dynamic weather is visually impressive too, the varying conditions running the gamut from light cloud to thunderstorms, fog, heavy snow and driving rain. Adapting to the weather as it changes is part and parcel of your racing tactics too, obviously tying into tyre choices and pit strategy. When it comes to winning, keeping your wits about you is the key, a lapse in concentration can be fatal, and there's no rewind button to fall back on.

Watch it! You'll ruin my new paint job!

Online, that focus is vital, especially as other human players can be stupidly aggressive. Like the rest of the game, there's a plethora of options for racing online, including community events, simple race events with optional practice and qualifying, as well as support for spectators. It's remarkably simple getting into a race too, as you merely create a lobby or join an existing one, connect with other players and get cracking. Once you're in, the action is stable too, providing slick online racing with very few, if any, technical hitches. In fact, Project CARS 2's performance is entirely robust all round.

Put in the hours, and you'll get showered with achievements for your trouble, with career milestones duly rewarded at all of the right intervals, and a number devoted to completing seasons in Indycar, rallycross, and so on. Hit up the game's offline custom races, and you can set parameters to complete tasks like a clean lap around a snowy Nordschleife in under 8 minutes, or drive four laps around the Red Bull Ring in a Lamborghini Veneno. It's an excellent list that gives you unlocks early on, before rewarding you for investing time into the latter parts of career and other modes.

Project CARS 2 might not have the hundreds of cars of Forza and its ilk with a still very respectable 180-something, but the number of racing venues, gameplay customisation options, and events in the game make for an expansive and all-encompassing race experience. Marry that to an exemplary handling and damage model, awesome weather effects, gorgeous visuals and a range of motorsports all given due care and attention, and Project CARS 2 stands out as an essential racing title that's simply fantastic.


Project CARS 2

Project CARS 2 is a great sequel to a strong but flawed first instalment. This time around, the flaws are far fewer, the racing is first class, and there's not much that Slightly Mad Studios hasn't addressed. Whether you're a sim aficionado or novice, Project CARS 2 is a racing game you need.

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Authentic engine audio, nice music in the menus, pit crew blather during a race. Project CARS 2's aural landscape does the job.


The garage of 180-odd cars all look great, with their own detailed damage model, while the tracks and environments look great. The frame rate is stable, with only the tiniest bit of screen tearing. Just imagine what it'll look like on an Xbox One X!


You can completely tailor Project CARS 2 to your exact specifications, making it as challenging or as easy if you want. Whatever you opt for, you're still greeted with a racing game that handles wonderfully.


Sixty race venues, all rendered in meticulous detail, loads of cars and events, all presented with a clear and simple interface. The number of customisation options make this a full and comprehensive racer that suits players of all skill levels.


A strong list that gives you plenty to pursue in the career and loads to experiment with in custom races, time trials and online modes. A great selection of tasks that cover every conceivable area of the game.

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