Reader Submission #64 – Project CARS, Six Months Later

The largest Reader Submission we’ve ever received here on PRC.net, avid reader Ruben Galvez Lopez has taken the time to write a lengthy review of the controversial crowdfunded racing sim Project CARS for us, and no aspect of the game has been left ignored. Grab some popcorn, you’re going to be here a while!


original

Hey James, it’s been a while! I want to send you another piece about Project CARS. I understand the focus switching away from this particular game, by now pretty much everybody knows the kind of train-wreck that awaits them if they bother playing it. But I want to give a bit of insight about the extent of the problems still present in the game now that half a year has gone by since the game hit the shelves.

Cars flying all over the place and weird paranormal shit take the spotlight given their comedy value, and the reports seem to focus in these eye-catching problems. I must say we’ve left that stage behind, and to be fair these incidents are VERY rare these days. 

But there sure is work left to do for SMS to get Project CARS anywhere close to becoming reliable. After a good number of hours behind the wheel and a lot of frustration, I think I can make a detailed list of all the problems holding the game back.

The AI are still a bunch of incompetent and lunatic entities living in their own world, driving by their own rules. On top of lacking pace and racecraft, they get away with crazy track cutting. The grass won´t slow them down, the gravel won´t do anything to them, the high curbs won´t upset them… and they sure make good use of that. Having said that, their behavior changes from class to class, ranging from completely worthless  to OK-ish. I´m not too fussed about it since I´m a multiplayer guy, but a lot of people purchased the game after promises of an amazing career mode. That’s something you’ll never have without decent AI, and this game doesn’t have it.

Tires also suffer from crazy leaps in quality when you switch from class to class. Some tires change nicely over their life cycle: they show noticeable and progressive wear, they react to overheating losing instant grip and wearing faster… while some others are utter failures. The Pirelli Trofeo shows absolutely no trace of wear, and it feels exactly the same all through its life. The wear indicator goes down and the tire remains in perfect condition. It feels the same at 90% life and at 10% life. You just keep driving EVEN MORE laps on it and it keeps full grip with the indicator showing no rubber left (which means it´s running on the carcass according to SMS/WMD guys) and, surprise, you´re still doing PB’s. Then at some point you pick tire damage, and that’s it. On top of that, the tire is inmune to overheating: no matter at what temperature you run it, it will have the same grip levels if the tire is green, orange or red on the indicator. Here’s a video explaining what I mean.

Anyway, it´s not a specific problem, plenty of other tires show all sorts of problems: intermediate tires being useless in some classes (wets being faster regardless of how wet the track is and how hot they´re running), absurdly low wear levels making medium and hard compounds pointless… The kind of stuff you would expect to be tweaked during beta stage still needs heavy work in a lot of classes.

There’s also a huge problem regarding camber settings: For some reason they have a huge influence on straight line speed, and almost no effect on the lateral grip levels. You´ll see everybody running negative camber levels close to 0 to avoid carrying a virtual parachute down the straights. And it doesn’t stop there: playing with the camber levels and tire pressures will do nothing to the inside-middle-outside tire temperatures. 0 degrees of camber won’t melt the outside of your tire, -5 degrees won´t melt the inside: The temperatures barely change even with extreme adjustments. As a result, you can´t use temperatures as a guideline to select your camber levels and your tire pressures. This makes me wonder what the hell is wrong under the hood of the game, as even basic stuff like this doesn’t react the way it should.

Pitstops are also completely flawed in many senses. They finally managed to -almost- stop players from leaving the pits with tires they didn’t want or random fuel levels. This bug barely manifests anymore. But some utterly stupid design decisions still remain in place. You have to wait until the pit lane entry to modify the work your pit crew will have to do, and if your team is in the first pitbox, any strategy change means being stopped with your crew waiting while you fight with the menus. The pit stop duration doesn’t change to match the times you see in real life: the stops are outrageously slow even in series as Formula 1, and that completely changes the optimum strategy in a competitive race. 

Carrying excessive fuel around the track is often better than running as light as possible with your desired strategy, all because the re-fuel rate is so slow that the weight penalty of carrying fuel around is negated by the need of taking more liters once you pit. Repairs are FREE: you can get new aero bits, brakes and even A NEW ENGINE in every pit stop, and the stop will last exactly the same time as it would do otherwise… Again, this opens chances to silly exploits like running a wastegate pressure that would normally mean a retirement, or closing the brake ducts and destroying your brakes every stint. 

The user interface doesn’t escape stupid decision making either: Some critical data is entirely missing from the telemetry on the HUD. If your car doesn’t have a MOTEC display in the car´s virtual wheel or dash, you can´t check water and oil temperatures without 3rd party apps. That means you are completely blind to set your cooling levels for a lot of cars, and you´re forced to run an outrageously draggy car (or do shitloads of trial runs) to make sure you´ll last the distance.

Collisions are deeply flawed: cars get “glued” together when they touch laterally. Door to door contact in a corner will mean both cars going wide together, only recovering control once they slow down almost to a stop. You can imagine the effect this has on GT classes where contact is very common, and God save us when the oval content is released. It´s not going to be pretty. It´s hard to explain, but again you can see it in action at 4:10-4:40 in this video:

The game lacks fidelity to the real cars in terms of performance. A lot of cars do lap times several seconds faster than their real life counterparts. Their Formula B car -an unlicensed second tier single seater akin to GP2- can beat with a full tank of fuel the current generation Formula 1 pole position times. Their Lotus 98T , in downpour conditions, can lap Monza several second faster than the 2008 F1 cars did in similar conditions. You can brake as much as 50 meters later in this 1986 death trap than Vettel or Hamilton were doing in 2008, you can corner faster than them, and it´s not all that hard to put the power down in this 1000hp turbo-lagging beast.

The replays are completely broken. The array of bugs includes cars entirely missing from saved replays, wrong cars and liveries being shown on rival cars, retired cars remain parked in their grid spot ruining any start finish line shot, long replays crashing if you rewind, weird warping engine sounds from rival cars, your car being much louder than the rest, the wrong steering rotation angle being shown on on-board cameras… 

By now you must be already be thinking “the game really stinks”, but only now do the extremely bad bugs manifest themselves…

pCars64Gld-2015-07-17-10-17-18-49

The game crashes. A lot. Some combos are just impossible to race. The Audi R8 road car can´t handle bottoming down, and it can do all sorts of crazy shit every time it touches down. The car might switch off. Or stop instantly from 250 km/h. Or freeze the game. Again, it´s not a one car issue. Last couple of weeks we have tried to get an endurance championship going on. The game crashed on me in round 1. The game crashed on me a dozen times during practice for round 2. The game crashed for me again four laps into the second round. And it´s not only me, 7 out of 15 racers got a game crash during round 2. And believe me, it sure wasn’t an obscure or rare combo: the PS4 version of the game simply couldn’t handle LMP1 cars running around Spa for 90 minutes. The game is running on 6.0 version right now, and it is far, FAR more crash prone than on release. And it wasn’t any more reliable back then!

Project CARS is also dangerous for your hardware. Yeah, you heard that right. Some weird bugs make your wheel do erratic shit sometimes when you are leaving or joining a session: you can find yourself without FFB at all as you exit the pits, your wheel can start turning on its own at crazy speed as the loading screen disappears, you might get a weird canned FFB effect that makes your wheel vibrate massively every time your front wheels slide… It’s Russian Roulette.

My wheel has damage close to the left full lock position because sometimes the game would make it turn for no reason in the menus, so it has hit full lock at warp speed like 100 times by now. When it auto-calibrates, I need to help it starting to turn right once it has found left full lock because it gets sticky there. I’ve had to unplug it in the middle of sessions to avoid damage as that strange vibration FFB effect I mentioned kicked in.

Seeing DLC coming out at a steady pace while the game remains in this condition feels like a kick in the groin. To end the submission, I want to give everybody an advice: Stay the hell away from PCARS2. It’s not only about punishing these scammers for their dishonest behavior with this game, think for a second what are the chances of them releasing a solid product next time! Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…


 pCars64Gld-2015-07-17-10-05-54-07

Damn. Well first I obviously need to say thanks for throwing a 1,500 word review at us, because not only does it give us something to post on a relatively slow Saturday, but having a Project CARS guy sit down and explain exactly what’s wrong with the game, front to back, is doing a great service to our readers. I don’t own Project CARS, my time has been limited to illegally downloaded copies of Version 1.3 and Version 5.0 (plus the final few WMD builds), so I’ve never invested the laps required to unearth every game-breaking aspect that Slightly Mad Studios ban users for talking about.

It’s unfortunate to see what’s become of this game, and how the community was turned upside-down to get to this point. Look, crowdfunding isn’t always a bad thing, but turning investors into viral marketers hell-bent on spreading the gospel of pCars… There was no room for error the moment that approach was taken, and unfortunately the game shipped in a state where game-breaking bugs were the main highlight. If there’s anything to be learned from the tragedy of Project CARS, it’s that the sim community is extremely gullible.

Advertisements

39 thoughts on “Reader Submission #64 – Project CARS, Six Months Later

  1. Correct if I’m wrong, but I think the “gluing cars together” happened also at shift 2 and even at shift 1.

    At this point it might as well be a tradition in slightly mad studios games.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes…

      That and those weird looking replays, jitter and sinking vehicles. I knew about a good bit of this stuff but damn this article was thorough.

      It’s missing the discussion about suspension drifting progressively further out of alignment on vehicles , I think they ‘fixed’ that though.

      I don’t know how he had the patience to even consider endurance in pcars haha. I noticed bad behaviors from my wheel, too.

      Like

  2. It looks like that the site owner is desperately looking for more clicks.. but neither pcars, ac, iracing or whatever is working at the moment. 🙂

    tips: the problem is not the topic… 😉

    Like

    1. That’s funny, we’ve had steadily rising view counts every month since the conception of this blog, with November being the best month we’ve had so far. 😉

      Like

  3. One of my favorite aspects of this game that shows how clueless the developers are is that they shouted from the top of a mountain about the ACO and Le Mans licence, yet in version 6.0 there is STILL no way to run modern prototypes and GT’s on the track at the same time in single player. The only way to run a proper multi-class raceis to sim through an entire year of the career mode to get to one invitational event, which is the 24 hours of Le Mans…..run in December.

    Like

  4. The moto of this website should be: “why sim race when you can whine about it”.

    PCars isn’t a perfect game. There are many annoyances, but personally I’m having a lot of fun with it. I guess when you stop looking for flaws to be outraged about and just enjoy the game for what it is then life becomes a lot happier.

    Like

    1. >The moto of this website should be: “why sim race when you can whine about it”.

      Cause WELCOME TO DIE! I mean, WELCOME TO “The worst site you could possibly visit for Sim Racing news.”

      Like

    2. Everyone’s obviously entitled to their own opinion, but most of what’s been found above are game-breaking issues to the hardcore sim crowd, and that’s PRC’s primary audience, so that’s the angle both we as writers and our 220,000 readers approach pCars from – the hardcore racing sim angle.

      Pretty much every racing game on the market since the original PlayStation era is totally fine if you’re doing three lap sprints against the AI. And this includes abominations such as NASCAR 2011 and Test Drive Unlimited 2. If you’re on the track for a maximum of five minutes, there simply isn’t enough time for the ugly portions to pop up.

      But the hardcore guys are on the track for more than three laps, in some cases they’re dedicate multiple hours to a single race whether it’s online or off, and that’s where pCars is currently falling apart. The little stuff that matters in longer races – strange tire wear, AI oddities, online netcode shortcomings, pit stops inaccuracies, even the HUD displaying the wrong data… This is huge when you’re relying on all this stuff to WORK as it directly plays into the strategy of a longer race. If you still don’t get why any of this would be an issue, congratulations for exposing yourself as a casual who has no idea what they’re talking about. It’s ok, we all started somewhere.

      Honestly the more I look into it, the legions of pCars fanboys must be the aforementioned kids who can’t sit through a race longer than five laps, or who have never actually sat down and understood what goes into competing for a win.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I only multi player. Here comes my thorough review. Not!
    Amateur journalism on PRC.net? Again……..
    He said the AI is no good. Full stop. Complete fail. It’s the first thing he said.

    Name some better AI that isn’t Rfactor 3. I’ve never played that as its PC.
    I want to read the rest, but why bother when the drivel that comes out your mouth starts completely out of whack.
    Publish some reel journalists or less obvious hacks.

    Not this I only online, so AI doesn’t interest me clown.
    If he’d driven at all vs AI. He’d realize they are quick as shit and can blow your mind at times with moves other AI doesn’t make.
    HUGE step up from GT or Forza AI son. And the only AI that may be better is debatable, and PC only.

    Here comes the part where you say you only PC right?
    Or you couldn’t be bothered to race them cause they cheat.

    That’s what all amateurs say about them before Dissing them because they couldn’t figure out race craft enough to drive with them. This AI has a lot to teach and is ten times more consistent than the average group of online lobby hacks.

    Did you post a video of you driving with them?
    Doubt it seriously. Doubt you would either. Your either being stupid or getting beat.

    Like

    1. Name AI that’s better?

      Alright, off the top of my head:

      NASCAR Racing 2003 Season
      Grand Prix Legends
      Grand Prix 4
      F1 2013
      DiRT Rally
      DiRT 3
      DiRT 2
      Grid Autosport
      Race Driver Grid
      NASCAR Thunder 2004
      NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup
      Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2
      Need for Speed Underground
      NHRA 2007: Countdown to the Championship
      GeneRally
      MX vs. ATV Reflex

      In pCars, the first offline race I did at the Nordschleife in GT3 cars, the entire field STOPPED in the Karussel and were out of comission for 5-10 seconds. This happened every single lap, making the results of the race redundant, as I was able to pass everyone due to them being stationary on an unused portion of the track.

      Like

    2. Man, how slow someone must be to think PCARS AI is a challenge! Only scenario where they can touch a decent player is when they keep running dry laptimes in the wet.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. hey Janes plz write a post title Is rfactor2 going to die on Steam?
    1st Saturday – 283 pkayers
    2nd week Sat – 209
    3rd week Sat – 137

    Like

  7. Also after 6mths..if u filter driving,simulation on Steam search it will give you eye cancer full of pcars DLC..thats why i decide and bought companyofheroes2 + DLC .make more sense for me and value for my money.

    Like

  8. Good review, but there’s stuff missing. Nonsense penalty system, no performance drop with engine overheating (only explosions), atrocious controller handling, bugs where some of your setup changes aren’t saved… This game is as shit as this article makes it look, and then some more.

    Like

  9. And I’ve tested the AI all the way to 100% without challenge in LMP1 cars.
    That’s not the point.
    If I take off the tune open the radiator and mitigate any advantages one uses to beat the AI.
    It’s much more challenging.
    There’s not a game out there most of us don’t max out the AI and crave human opponents.
    But this AI is as capable as is out there. CURRENTLY in next gen titles.
    I’ll take a pass on scrutinizing a list of the last decade of your personal faves.

    Despite a bunch of Internet videos probing hard at their Inadequacies
    Every game ever made has its share of course.
    PCars AI is not bad. Slow for some and beatable easily where expected. But not bad.
    There spatial awareness is top notch and if you give them the opportunity and explore them in a human way.
    They will pull some quite impressive choices and execution of lines.

    If you get on with them in a NASCAR fashion. They will troll you hard.
    If you show them respect. They do their best to treat you the same, despite mistakes.
    There’s numerous spots (including difficult complexes or chicanes)
    where they haven’t completely been taught how to behave appropriately yet.

    But that also happens in every other game out there as well

    But I have to say I have seen them do a realistic amount of stupid stuff
    And a realistic amount of good stuff
    It’s all cool

    It’s not like you showed a video of them being impossible to race did ya?
    You highlighted some intentionally made videos to showcase known bugs.
    You could never back up your claim of

    Like

  10. “The AI are still a bunch of incompetent and lunatic entities living in their own world, driving by their own rules. On top of lacking pace and racecraft, they get away with crazy track cutting. The grass won´t slow them down, the gravel won´t do anything to them, the high curbs won´t upset them… and they sure make good use of that. Having said that, their behavior changes from class to class, ranging from completely worthless to OK-ish. I´m not too fussed about it since I´m a multiplayer guy, but a lot of people purchased the game after promises of an amazing career mode. That’s something you’ll never have without decent AI, and this game doesn’t have it.”

    Umm so that’s a quote right?
    You made that big wall of text and called it a definitive conclusion on the AI?
    And wasted a handful of your 150 words for that paragraph or whatever to mumble on about how you’re really a multiplayer guy anyway?
    Meh
    Put some heat on it and a few breaks in structure.
    But maybe that 1,500 word norm is perfect for the autist crowd that doesn’t sweat the truth of matters anymore.

    I come around here cause I want to be able to trust you guys to tell me what’s wrong with XY or Z title
    But it’s getting all a bit fanboy nonsense or non fanboy in most cases.

    Like

  11. Once upon a time I believed the “hype” how those guys know what they’re doing > you know the rumours about ex.SimBin staff …, so I bought SHIfT.Nice game, but full of bugs and phyics model was “wtf”?
    Ok ,lets give guys a pass,it is their “first” game.
    Two years fwd , there is SHIft UNLEASHED.The real thing,GT,FM,whatever else killer,sim we’ve been waiting for, was praising from game sites and Andy Tudor.What a joke.No doubt a fun for a month, then again once you got deeper it was obviously game is flawed,physics is flawed and there are some SMS™ bugs,like that “magneto” car sticking…
    Anyway, at the time everyone put blame on evil EA for dumbing down SMS s i m u l a t i o n ,so lets give guys antoher pass.Ok
    Another year or so fwd, there is Ferrari Legends.Oh no, same bugs,same problems,same flaved physics… hmh? Do this guys know what they’re doing?
    And then pC was announced, dream come true, a game that would finaly make community wishes a reality.Well done.So 3 years later,game is released and despite some very welcome physics upgrades , it is same old SHIfT.Same bugs as in their every release, add some new like ***** crazy ffb which probably “killed” a lot of wheels and people still shilling how this is dream come true.of course until pC2 comes.or pC3. Lets give guys a pass, they’re small dev (150people?),they’re poor,Ian got a Ferrari to pay and family to feed…
    I’d like to believe those guys, but until they get their act together, release some proper and working game, they can ***** ***.
    Still, no doubt kids will fall again into that “stig” endorsed physics and marketing WMD schemes.

    Like

  12. How the flying hell can someone say PCARS AI is any good? It´s utter shit. They have no awareness whatsoever. They turn in on you. They divebomb you and then get shitty exit all the time. They have no pace. What´s the point in racing them?

    I am one of these guys who bought for the career mode, and I started in Formula Rookie. I won every race at 100% by around 6-10 seconds, and they´re short races. Then jumped into upper classes hoping it was just a weak combo for the AI. It wasn´t. They´re fucking weak all the time, and when you´re between them because you started from the back, you realize they can´t fucking race wheel to wheel either.

    How did they think someone can go through their career mode if the AI is so shit? I was hyped about the mode but the AI is so poor I haven´t gone very far.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a likely to be a given and rather self evident by now. Someone shoud ask Ian Bell why he hates Jay Ekkel and Henrik Roos so much 😉

      Let’s not forget pCARS was delayed for extra polish and all that game PR horsehit that is often spouted – 6 major patches later and the game is still not working as it should. Good work SMS.

      Like

  13. A company not able to handle complex game structures…..that´s what Project CARS is. They wanted to create more than they are able to manage. And be prepared to see the same in Project CARS 2, too.

    Like

  14. I’ll admit I believed the hype til last October when I tried b834. Was excited to finally try it after waiting 2+ years, Had a smile on my face when it loaded up for the first time. Then I got into the meat of the game and was utterly disappointed with the terrible physics, tire model, A.I and what pissed me off the most was the ability to steer with brakes locked up. I don’t mean just a little bit I’m talking about being able to lock the brakes up and keep the car from spinning out. Formula cars are the worst when it comes to steering through with locked brakes but I found most if not all the cars in the game can do this, This is very unrealistic.

    When the game finally released in May I did all the same tests I did back in October build and got all the same results. Terrible A.I, terrible physics, terrible tire model and still being able to steer with locked up brakes. What the frack were they doing from October 2014 – May 2015? Apparently nothing. Now here we are 7 months and 6 patches later and what do I find? SAME SHIT! Nothing has changed except some basic BS tire life gauge and some tire heat differences. Now the F1 tires don’t go cold while going 150+mph..well except the right front while racing at Laguna Seca LOL. Yeah this game or I’m sorry arcade racer (it’s not a sim not even close) is a fricken joke.

    Like

Rap battles between users are encouraged; losers will be IP banned for 24 hours.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s