I first encountered Project CARS at EuroGamer Expo 2014. The demo crashed as it ground to a halt while I tried to steer the on-screen car, only to find myself wrestling with the unresponsive controls. I wasn't at all impressed with my experience and it was clear Project CARS needed a lot more work before it should ever be seen in public again.
So, when I was presented with another opportunity to play it I did so with some trepidation. Thankfully I needn't have worried, as the months since I first played Project CARS have been almost miraculously kind to it. Slightly Mad Studios appears to have pulled the proverbial rabbit from the hat and delivered an amazing racing title that is a sight to behold.
Project CARS started out as a crowd-funded project to make a car simulation game for Windows PCs and current generation consoles. The community around it has had a very large input into its development and as such has helped produce a game that rivals the likes of R-Factor in terms of features and content. A tremendous effort has been put into every aspect of this racing sim, from the wheel trims to the weight distribution and handling of the cars, it has all been placed under scrutiny and only now is all this effort being shown to bear fruit.
I spent a considerable amount of time with the PS4 version of Project CARS and drove a variety of automobiles on different tracks while using the myriad views that are offered to the player.
One of them was the cockpit view that had the windscreen so awash with water droplets that I actually had to switch on the wipers to see where I was going. I know this seems somewhat superficial, but Project CARS is about the attention to detail placed on the tiniest minutia that makes it a thing far greater than the sum of its parts.
This time around the controls did respond to my inputs, much to my relief. The cars threw themselves around the track satisfactorily, to the point where I was reminded a great deal of the TOCA games Codemasters produced in the PSOne and PS2 era, which eventually evolved into the Grid series.
Project CARS goes back to what makes driving sims so engrossing by letting the player feel every bump, and sense the weight of the car shift as it hurtles out of a corner.
The development of Project CARS has been an arduous job for Slightly Mad Studios, but that doesn't seem to have diminished their passion in any way. If my experience with Project CARS is anything to go by, it appears to have strengthened them if anything. I will certainly look forward to seeing Project CARS in May of this year.
Here, thanks to superb (lucky) timing, is the very latest trailer...