Developer: Slightly Mad Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Reviewed on: PS4 Pro
Also available on: Xbox One, PC
Release: 28th August 2020
Project CARS 3 is a racing video game developed by Slightly Mad Studios and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. Released on August 28 2020, it is available for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC. The Project CARS franchise debuted in 2015 to critical praise and quickly went on to sell over 2 million units in its first year. The follow-up, 2017’s Project CARS 2, won the gamescom award for the best simulation game. Now, with this third instalment, the team at Slightly Mad Studios continues in the tradition of delivering an authentic racing experience that allows players to create and live out their own ultimate driver journey.
Your ultimate driver journey from weekend warrior to racing legend with Project CARS 3 comes packed with over 200 elite-brand road and race-cars, and over 140 global circuits complete with 24-hour cycles and evocative all-4-season, all-weather racing.
After recently playing another title by Slightly Mad Studios, (Fast & Furious Crossroads) I was a little apprehensive to say the least. (Check out our review for that game here) However, I was immediately put at ease as the difference between the 2 is immediately evident; they’re chalk and cheese. Not only is Project CARS visually better than the previously mentioned but it's better in every single way you can imagine.
Project Cars is a difficult one to review, as I can see some people disagreeing with me purely based on their play styles, and how they differ to mine. When it comes to racers, I prefer a much more casual approach rather than a “driving simulator” so to speak. I like the game to do a lot of the heavy lifting for me, which is something that hampered my experience a little with Project CARS 2; it was very much a driving simulator. That issue seems to have been addressed in Project CARS 3, in the form of new settings. These new settings allow you to choose between all out “driving simulator” to a much more relaxed, almost “arcadey” feeling gameplay style. This style is much more up my alley and while I did (somewhat unsuccessfully) dabble in the more expert playing style, down the beginner/easy end of the scale is where I spent the bulk of my time.
Off the bat, the game looks “good”, I mean some aspects, such as the cars, look fantastic but it's the surrounding areas of the game that left me feeling a little underwhelmed. Certain items were just plain awful and what made it worse was that these items were completely unnecessary. What I mean by that is that whilst focusing on the track and where you're going, the game looks great however, it's when you take a moment to look at your surroundings that things become a little less rendered. Things like helicopters, ambulances and other vehicles “behind the scenes” look like something you'd see in previous generations and quite frankly, the game would have benefited by removing them altogether. It is important that I emphasise that the game as a whole looks great, these things are just a little off putting.
Career mode is also where the bulk of my time was spent, and is much as you'd expect; you start out a rookie, you buy your first car, you use that car to win your first race and earn more money and so on and so forth. However, you technically don't earn money from simply winning races. In Project CARS 3 you earn money from levelling up. The career mode, while fun, does get a little repetitive but it's a racing game, which by nature is repetitive - it's basically unavoidable.
The navigation, especially in career mode, is pretty clunky. One example of this is that when completing a race you're taken back to your garage, to a screen that has a picture of a race track, and 3 buttons saying RACE, GARAGE and SHOWROOM. If you're anything like me you assume that the game will automatically load up your next race for you to start by pressing the RACE button. WRONG! I found this out the hard way and ended up doing the same race 3 times before I realised that I had to press the O button to go back to the “event page”, manually select your next race and then proceed. This sounds like a first world problem but it just makes for a lot of unnecessary button presses before you can start your next race.
Gameplay wise, the game is really fun, especially in easy mode (granted this is personal opinion). The controls feel rather intuitive and all-in-all range from full on realism, to as I said, a little arcadey which I loved. This arcadey feel that I talk about, makes it feel almost a little bit “old school” but in a good way. With options such as brake assist, handling assist, course markers (to show things such as corner apex), and stability control, you truly can make the game whatever you want it to be.