I went go-karting once.
It was on a stag do up in Liverpool and we were all absolutely lagging from the night before. Before we were allowed to drive the karts ourselves we were huddled into a hut and given a safety briefing. I felt sorry for the bloke that gave it. None of us were listening. We were too busy trying to sip our energy drinks down without throwing up and making jokes about chucking red shells to listen to what he had to say.
I could see the guy getting more and more angry at us as we got less and less interested until he slammed his fist on the desk and said “This is serious”. What a killjoy. All we wanted to do was have a little drive about with our mates, try to shunt each other off the track and that. Instead we were forced to sit in silence for 15 minutes while the most boring man in the world tried to teach us the basics of driving.
These feelings came rushing back the moment I booted up Project CARS
for the first time. I could sense that the monotone voice over-explaining the game’s menu systems was seconds away from screaming “This is serious” at me as I skipped through what she was saying in order to make it onto the track.
But much like that day in Liverpool I soon learned that maybe I should have listened to what they were trying to tell me before I arrogantly slammed my foot on the accelerator for the first time.
As I repeatedly spun out during my first lap I was getting annoyed, wondering why I couldn’t control something as simple as a go-kart, and it was exactly the same with my first race in Project CARS
“The handling must be shit, some of the settings must be wrong.” I was blaming everything but myself. So I restarted, over and over again. Unlike other recent games, Project CARS
doesn’t have a rewind button. If you mess up, you have to start the race over again and although that can be frustrating, there’s a reason it doesn’t give you an easy way out.
In this game you have to learn every corner of every track. You can’t just wing it like you can in most racing games. Rewinding has taken some of the skill out of racing and although it can be a pain to start all over again it creates a level of concentration that is missing from games like Forza
forces you to take it seriously. It wasn’t until I tried to adapt my game that I realised what it was all about. It’s not a fun game in the true sense of the word. It doesn’t stick you behind the wheel of a super car and overlook your imperfections. It’s challenging and ultimately extremely rewarding.
My first few hours were brutal. I took the first championship available which happened to be go-karting and forced myself to learn where I was going wrong. I battled through controller-chucking crashes and focused on pushing my way to the podium.
These opening moments could probably be edited down into a pretty fantastic 80s film montage as I saw my finishing places rise and rise. The more I played the more confident I got. I’d gone from slamming on the brakes at every corner to releasing the accelerator just enough to hug the corner while overtaking on the inside.
After I’d learnt the basics in the Kart, it was time to move on to the big-boy cars. When you begin a new career you can enter any level of championship from the start so if you fancy moving up to some of the more powerful motors you have the option.
Once I’d decided to take the step up, the game really started to click for me. It reminded me of Moto GP
on the original Xbox as my obsession with perfecting my driving grew. I’d race the same tracks over and over again, learning
braking landmarks and experimenting with speed on approach to corners until I felt I’d truly mastered the track.
As my driving skills grew I found the races became more dramatic. It didn’t need to dip into the world of arcade racing to simulate excitement. The battles I was having to hold onto pole position didn’t feel simulated, they felt organic.