Project CARS 3 Review

Richard Walker

It's hard to believe that Slightly Mad Studios is the same developer that spaffed out the godawful Fast & Furious: Crossroads earlier this year, because Project CARS 3 is a good racing game. It might not be the best racing game, and it's not nearly as comprehensive and all-encompassing as the previous two Project CARS games, but it's certainly enjoyable. Strangely, Project CARS 3 marks a departure from outright simulation to something far more accessible and appealing to mainstream race fans. And being a more inviting prospect isn't necessarily a bad thing.

From the breezy presentation to shorter, punchier races, Project CARS 3 is something of an about-turn for the series, and it's one that, in all probability, won't be welcomed by fans of the last two entries. Career Mode entails completing specific objectives during races, which largely makes winning irrelevant – as long as you complete the set tasks, you'll unlock subsequent events and acquire the requisite XP. Unusually, chasing all three objectives during each race proves compulsive, although it starts to wear thin when the onus isn't really placed on reaching the top of the podium. It seems oddly counterintuitive.


If race objectives aren't enough to keep you occupied, Project CARS 3 also places an emphasis on mastering each of its tracks, perfecting both cornering and sticking to the optimum racing line, with additional XP to be had if you manage to achieve total mastery. With a combination of objectives and racing line perfection to strive for, PC3 is fun enough for a time, but then a sense of repetition gradually sets in, despite the odd diversion that Breakout and Pace Setter events provide. The former being a score attack that demands precision racing to smash as many coloured bricks as you can within the allotted time limit, while the latter sees you putting in three laps in a bid to chalk up the best average time you can muster – veering off the track means failure, and there's no rewinding.

A raft of customisation and upgrade options for the cars in your garage make things a bit more interesting, as you fit new parts to get as close to the race class limit as you possibly can (or surpass the limit to use it in higher-class events), and hoard currency for your next desirable set of wheels. And although there are plenty of cars to choose from, acquiring them is a long, difficult process – almost like purchasing an actual car in real life. If you want to get to the Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborghinis, and the other high-end marques, you're going to have to put in countless hours and accrue as many credits as humanly possible. That after the first four hours I had only three piffling cars in my garage is about all you need to know about how hard it is to acquire new vehicles.

Heading into the Showroom, you can see the dozens upon dozens of lovely cars that PC3 has to offer, 90% of which seem criminally out of reach, unless you have the time and wherewithal to grind together the readies to buy them. Outside of Career Mode, Custom Events enable you to race using any car you like, and Project CARS 3's garage really does run the gamut, from standard road cars to super trucks, vintage open wheel racers, classic touring cars, high performance GT cars, and even Formula E. You can set the weather conditions, choose from any of the innumerable track venues and layouts – Custom Event is really the only way to experience everything that Project CARS 3 has to offer, right out of the gate.


Career Mode being Project CARS 3's main draw, however, you'll quickly have your fill, as unlocking new cars is drip fed at such a glacial pace – after 5-6 hours, I'd pretty much had enough, the cost of acquiring or upgrading a car to qualify for the high-spec race events being a lofty goal to aspire to. Online options are decent enough, providing a break from single-player, with time trial ghosts to beat in Rival Races that rotate on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, as well as the usual Quick Race, Scheduled Race, and Custom Events to dip your toe into. The overall online experience is nice and robust, too, and certainly worth a dabble, especially since XP and progression is persistent across all of PC3's modes. That includes vehicle XP, which grants discounts on upgrades as you level up each car.

On the asphalt itself, Project CARS 3's handling is tight and immediate, but in Resolution Mode, the frame rate gets rather choppy when you're jostling your way through a pack of twenty-something rivals. You're definitely better off playing in Performance Mode for the best possible experience. Regardless, Slightly Mad's latest Project CARS 3 foray might be a lesser game than its forebears, but that doesn't mean it isn’t worthwhile. There's a lot to like here, and if you're in the market for a slick, polished racing game, you could certainly do a lot worse.

Project CARS 3

While there are numerous better and more comprehensive racing games out there, Project CARS 3 is nonetheless a remarkably solid racer in its own right, with a slew of cool options, customisation features, cars, tracks, and more. If you're in the market for a spiffy new racing title, Project CARS 3 is certainly a solid choice.

Form widget
70%
Audio
75%

Decent enough menu and in-game tunes, although they're not really necessary during races – turn 'em off. Listen to the lovely engine noises and chatter from your race crew, instead.

Visuals
80%

Shiny, shiny cars and nice, detailed track venues from around the world, Project CARS 3 certainly looks the part. We'd recommend playing in Performance Mode for best results.

Playability
75%

If you're after a pure and unadulterated racing sim, Project CARS 3 may not fit the bill. If, however, you're seeking a fun and immediate racer with plenty of customisation options, then you can't go far wrong.

Delivery
70%

A decent enough suite of single-player and online options, with Career Mode engaging up to a point. Rival Races and Custom Events offer more than adequate racing action, and there's a plethora of cars and tracks.

Achievements
75%

A fine selection of achievements and an excellent spread across all of Project CARS 3's various modes and new customisation features. After a flurry of achievements popping, things soon slow down as you reach the bit where you have to grind, though.

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