Review in progress
Project CARS aims to be a stripped down racing experience. Like Codemaster's DiRT Rally, it cuts out the celebrity endorsements, in-your-face presentation and glamour. Project CARS is a racing game for people who just want to race great cars around iconic circuits.
Cars and track feel real
The most important thing with a racing game is how it feels. Project CARS isn't quite a pure simulator, but it's pretty close. Cars handle realistically enough, and you can't just put your pedal to the metal and drift round corners like an arcade game.
When the game begins you pick a general setup, Beginner, Amateur or Pro. Beginner turns on lots of driving aids and the full set of displays like guideline and braking assists, whereas Pro takes that all away. Whatever you choose, winning means driving well - learning your car and the track.
The driving model in Project CARS is great. The developers touted new tire physics, and it really makes a difference. You can almost feel your car on the track, the tires struggling for grip as you push their limits. Different cars handle distinctly, as they should, and the road surfaces also feel very different, track to track.
More evidence of Project CARS' serious nature is its camera options. There's only one "follow car" camera: the rest are either inside the car or further forward. Again, if the casual "follow car" camera is your thing, Project CARS is probably not your game. You can finely tune every aspect of the game's controls to suit you. I found the default gamepad setting a little too sensitive, and it's great that you can easily change them.
Options and more options
Project CARS' vehicle list is not the biggest, yet, though more car packs will be made available in the future. The cars available are good, though, with some classics, race cars and road cars too.
Its track roster is more impressive. There are lots of famous tracks like Laguna Seca, Imola and Silverstone, and they are all beautifully rendered. You can set up single races, do time trials, free practice, and compete online (testing this game prior to release, we cannot yet judge how good it is).
The career mode is excellent. You can start in whatever class you like. Start from karting and taking your driver right up to Formula 1, or if you feel you have already mastered karting in the past, that's no problem. While there's no story as such, Project CARS attempts to make your career feel real, with "emails" from fans and social media mentions as your fame rises.
While some of the sound effects felt a bit canned to me, overall it's very good. Ambient sound from the track and weather is really good, when you can hear it over the roar of your engine. The game looks great too, with excellent car models, beautiful tracks and excellent weather effects. The rain looks so good it almost compensates for how hard it makes driving!
A serious, yet accessible racer
Project CARS gets driving very right. It's well balanced and always great fun to play, if you're willing to put the effort in to learn the tracks and cars. The only criticism we really have at the moment is the relatively short list of cars to drive.