While a lot of sim racers love to label as me this disgruntled figure who absolutely despises every application on his desktop, the reality is that I’m unfortunately a bit like Hillary Clinton when it comes to racing simulators; there’s a public stance, and a private stance. While wearing the metaphorical PRC.net cap, I have no problem digging into the problems which befall many modern racing games, sometimes to the point where our readers accuse me of harboring an irrational vendetta towards one title or another. However, behind the scenes I’m pretty open to playing anything that can make use of my plastic steering wheel, and yes, that includes titles I’ve routinely harbored negative feelings towards, such as Assetto Corsa and Project CARS.
Make no mistake, this site basically got off the ground thanks to the several articles dissecting the launch and subsequent reception of Slightly Mad Studios’ newest racing simulator, but I can’t lie to our audience – I was playing it the other evening. The Ford Falcon V8 Supercar available as a piece of DLC was the perfect tool to conquer the international layout of Oulton Park, and I invested enough time in my session to grab the world record by a tenth or so.
But sometimes, the public persona of ruthlessly tearing apart any racing simulator that comes near my general location, and the private persona of just wanting to sit down and play something to kill the evening, tend to overlap and feed off one another. By chance, I found myself sitting through the otherwise nicely-crafted intro movie for Project CARS while finishing my dinner, and noticed that there’s a shot of the Ford Mustang Trans Am entry from the mid-1990’s being serviced by a fully animated pit crew. You can see a still frame of this at the top of the article.
There are no animated pit stops in Project CARS; from what I’m able recall, they were removed at the eleventh hour, and I believe this was due in part to the possibility of being able to accidentally run over opposing crew members, as well as some sort of technical or logistics limitations. There was no way to make one pit stop animation work for every car, especially with different gas can locations and tire changing procedures – an F1 car and an American Stock Car do not share the same pit stop routine in the slightest. I can’t say it really matters why they were removed, the key thing is that they were removed, and the actual in-game pit stop sequence is literally just one guy standing in front of your car until the service is completed.
Sure, there was a bit of a stir about it on the official forums – so the dedicated sim racers reading the message board knew what to expect ahead of time – but if you were an average teenager looking to get into more serious racing games and picked up Project CARS with the bare minimum of prior knowledge about the title, an element of the game depicted in the intro movie at no point surfaced during actual gameplay. This isn’t right, especially with the recent hubbub in regards to No Man’s Sky and elements shown in preview trailers not surfacing in the final game.
So I began to question what else appeared in the intro movie that didn’t make it into the final game, and to my surprise the boys at Slightly Mad Studios did a fairly decent job of relying on relevant footage to introduce the simulator. Sure, there’s a clip of the GT3 field at Spa simultaneously crashing while a rogue BMW blatantly cuts through Eau Rouge, but aside from the incidental inclusion of the pit stop sequence, on the surface what I saw from the introduction wasn’t much to warrant any kind of quick PRC.net article.
I slowly plugged through the introduction on YouTube, shot by shot to see if I missed anything significant, and realized there was one clip in particular which featured the Sauber C9 Group C Prototype. This car wasn’t available in the vanilla game that you could go out and buy from store shelves en mass, but rather as a bonus piece of content for owners of the Limited Edition release. Further into the game’s lifespan, this car became available through the Limited Edition upgrade, or the Game of the Year Edition, which bundled all major DLC packs into the base install.
Upon looking up what else came in the Limited Edition pack, I discovered that four out of the five cars found in the Limited Edition are prominently featured in the introduction video. Aside from the Mercedes-Benz DTM entry, the McLaren F1, BMW M1 ProCar, as well as the Ford GT40 Mk IV, all see ample camera time during the game’s two minute introduction. They are very prestigious pieces of automotive history, so it’s understandable Slightly Mad Studios would want them to be front and center.
Now I myself may have the Game of the Year Edition, and most hardcore sim racers bought this game at launch – along with several DLC packs in the hopes that Project CARS would be received by the overall community as the spiritual successor to GTR 3 – so seeing these cars on display in the intro video really doesn’t matter to any of us. However, the majority of console players purchased the base level version of Project CARS. They will undoubtedly be confused as to why the McLaren F1 isn’t in the roster of vehicles when they go hit the track for the first time, and they’ll be choked to find out it can only be obtained as a piece of additional downloadable content. It’s just one of those foresight things.
As are the pit stop animations. It would be one thing if there was footage of AI cars racing at Suzuka during the introduction, and you could only tell it was a track cut from the game based on a unique rumble strip or corner radius that gave it away, but it’s right out in the open for a few seconds that your team will supposedly come out and fully service the car when parked in the pit stall. For the intro movie to display this, yet the gameplay itself exhibit something drastically different – and objectively far less complete – it doesn’t look very good.
Personally, I don’t think I would have even noticed these had my buddy not owned the vanilla edition of Project CARS for his Xbox One. But when I head over there and we dick around for a few hours on the simulator, I have to remind myself that he’s only got the base product, without all of the fancy add-on content such as the Dallara DW 12, McLaren F1, and Sauber C9, and my selection of rides is severely hindered. For the intro movie to outright show you features or pieces of content that either aren’t in the game, or can only be obtained by additional purchases, it’s all a bit questionable.