We’ve got a killer reader submission today from Ruben Lopez, who doesn’t criticize Project CARS for the abundance of bugs within the next-generation racing sim, but for basic design issues centering around a feature pretty essential for racing simulations: pit stops. Project CARS is the only serious console racing sim on the market, and issues with how pit stops are handled prevent any serious league racing from occurring.
I write to you guys because I don’t think there’s enough attention on a very specific weakness of this game. By now, we’ve all seen videos of cars flying, crashing into invisible stuff, and all sorts of freak events. I have bumped into that ridiculous stuff myself, as I already illustrated in a previous submission:
That sort of freak event seems to be the main source of flak this game is getting these days, and that’s not really an accurate picture of the current problems of this game. The real picture is much worse.
Why? Because even if it’s amusing and spectacular, this sort of stuff happens once in a blue moon.
Project CARS has, as we speak, much bigger and uglier problems that I feel are not being covered properly anywhere. Sometimes when you report on this train wreck, I feel that even you guys don’t play this game enough and haven´t grasped yet how deeply flawed it is… and I don’t blame you! If I was not a console user and this game was not the only half-serious option, I wouldn’t even touch it with a stick.
But let’s get to the point: While these bizarre paranormal incidents like the one above have ruined a total of two races for me since launch, pit stops consistently ruin EVERYTHING you try to do. I don’t think any of the reports about pit stop problems that I’ve seen before are aware of half the problems you can bump into!
Every time you pit in this game, you can:
Receive random tyre pressures completely different from the ones you set in the pit strategy menus
Receive random compounds completely different from the ones you wanted your pit crew to fit in your car
Receive random amounts of fuel
As you can imagine, any of these issues alone can destroy a race. And mind you, the chances of them happening is huge. In fact getting a clean pit stop where your car leaves the pit lane right as you wanted without needing to correct anything is as much of a freak event as cars taking off for no reason at all.
There is absolutely no way to host or participate in any sort of multiplayer organized event, be it a league or a single long race, without the game fucking up badly the race for at least half of racers.
Now, if that wasn’t bad enough, not only bugs that reset values for not reason are a threat to your race. Some of the decisions regarding the user interface are, in lack of a polite word to describe them, retarded. No matter what class you race, the list of available compounds seems to be always the GT3 tyre range: soft, medium, hard, intermediate, and wet.
So when you set the pit strategy you want in any other class, you have no idea what will be fitted to your car. Let’s say you drive a Supercar… what will the soft compound give you? A regular road legal tyre? A tyre meant for track days? A Summer tyre?
There is just NO WAY to know. And common sense doesn’t cut it either… after messing around a bit, the track tyres I needed required the intermediate compound to fit them to your car (with random pressures, of course). Let’s remember we talk about slick track tyres, the only one available for Supercars that can NOT handle the rain. And it is required that you select intermediate for the crew to fit them. Just wow.
Another amazing decision is how you’re not allowed to prepare for your upcoming pit stop during the race. In multiplayer races, if something hasn’t gone according to plan (let´s say you got light aero damage) you must modify the pit crew work between the pit lane entry and the pit box you’re assigned. That’s often around 5-10 seconds. So, in that time you must:
- Correct the pressures, compounds and fuel load if they were reset by a bug.
- Select if you want or not to fix whatever damage the car has (depending on how many laps are left, it might be worth or not).
That is just not possible. You´ll often end up sitting in your pit box while your crew wait for you to decide what they should do.
Now, while I can sort of feel indulgent with bugs and stuff not working as intended (coding is hard and that stuff), these poorly though features really grind my gears. How can it be that in four years of development no one thought “hey, what if we let the driver tweak the strategy with the D-pad as he drives, instead of forcing him to push 35 buttons on the way to his pit box?”
Project CARS is not only an unfinished game (as the bugs show us), but it´s also a poorly thought and designed product. Coding mistakes can happen, but a studio of supposed racing enthusiasts devoted to create “the best racing game ever done” dropping the ball in very basic decisions cannot.
A good buddy of mine from High School is a huge console guy and the only reason he doesn’t migrate into the world of PC driving games is due to being technologically inept when it comes to computers. Anyways, over the weekend, we were sitting in the stands at the IHRA race up here and he mentioned that he’d picked up Project CARS for his PS4. I asked if he’d ran into the numerous glitches and issues others have had with the game, and he said the game wasn’t all that bad – and that he primarily stuck to the game’s offline Career mode.
Then, he proceeded to list off a couple of annoyances he had with the game. First, he noted how simulating to the end of a qualifying session turned the AI into absolute monsters, obliterating his pole lap by several seconds in the process. After that, he mentioned how he avoids online completely because the netcode is so atrocious, you’re constantly on the receiving end of netcode shunts comparable to early Xbox Live racers like ToCA Race Driver 2 – in his experience, driving anywhere near someone online is a game of virtual Russian roulette – you can’t do it safely.
“But it’s really not that bad, every game has bugs!”
Bro, you literally told me that you purposely avoid 50% of the game because it’s unplayable. No consumer should accept that when entire previous generations of video games have come to us in a pretty stellar state right out of the box. Hell, the game’s spiritual prequel, Race Pro, was actually pretty decent aside from a glitch that deleted your save game file – but if you were smart, you made a backup or downloaded a 100% file off the internet.
Applying this sad state of affairs to other forms of entertainment would be absolutely stupefying; teenage girls would riot in the streets if the next Harry Potter novel was a mere 160 pages and he was referred to as “Clarence” during the first six chapters. Baby boomers would question their sanity if the upcoming Star Wars film was 30 minutes long and notable critics tried to pass it off as “right-sized for younger viewers and full of action!”
But suddenly, when this occurs in the land of vidya and you point it out, “YOU’RE JUST INSANE, JAMES!”
As for the pit stop issues, I’m sure what most leagues are gonna do is run lengthy sprint races, or move to a different game altogether. Happened with the NASCAR games on consoles when Eutechnyx was given the reigns of the exclusive license, most people just bit the bullet and signed up for iRacing for their oval fix. Actually, this is already happening; Assetto Corsa saw a spike in sales after the release of Project CARS due to a bunch of unsatisfied customers just wanting a good racing sim: