So with a whole bunch of people starting to climb aboard the hype train, and all major sim racing outlets beginning to cover Project CARS 2 quite heavily, I guess it’s only fair that a guy on the company payroll who has suspiciously not talked a whole lot about the simulator after aggressively ripping on the first iteration throws his own two cents into the mix as well. I don’t care for scrutinizing recent car and track announcements because my point of view is clearly warped; I can boot up the game and look at everything that both has and hasn’t been announced yet at my own free will, so instead I’d like to go in a different route for today’s entry.
It’s still weird to say given how the previous two years have played out, but I am a contract worker for Slightly Mad Studios and I’m paid to rip apart Project CARS 2 behind the scenes. I was able to quit my job at a very prominent rental car company, so it’s safe to say this venture is funding more than just excessive amounts of Ultimate Team packs for NHL or Madden. Now a lot of our readers have been pelting the comments sections of every single article on here with accusations that I’m paid to rip on the competition and/or keep quiet about the development of Project CARS 2 on PRC, so instead of arguing with these anonymous sim racers time and time again, article after article, the easiest thing to do is just be open about what’s going on behind the scenes and do an article about how the development of Project CARS 2 is coming along – or at least, how I specifically have contributed to the game.
Because, you know, that’s what I am paid for. Slamming various simulators and praising obscure console games from a decade ago is something I’ve done independently since 2013 when I wrote for RaceDepartment and VirtualR; claiming this rhetoric only exists because of the requests of a single company is just silly. Come on guys, you can do better.
There are things Project CARS 2 does objectively well over its predecessor and it’s why I made the decision to be involved with the game. The absurdly complicated force feedback menu has been completely eradicated; it’s just one main initial “style” of feedback followed by four adjustment sliders like a guitar amp – and I expect that to be simplified even further. The menus have been totally changed, now resembling the art style of a modern EA Sports product, while the heads up display has been completely re-designed from the ground up to be more TV-broadcast looking, incorporating the highly-appreciated iRacing delta bar into the default configuration. There’s also a tangible art theme to the whole thing as opposed to floating grey semi-transparent boxes that dominated the previous offering.
And in my 54 hours of gameplay, not once has my car sunk into the ground or exploded three hundred feet into the air like the viral videos from the original Project CARS have showcased. I will undoubtedly be called a shill, viral marketer, whatever, for merely suggesting that this game has improved in certain aspects, but these are the 100% definite elements of the game where you would have to be psychologically crippled to argue there has been no improvement.
As I said above, I don’t care for going over specifics in the vehicle roster or location selection; licensing agreements will see the content featured in Project CARS 2 announced over a period of several months. What I can say is that no major brand has been left out (which many have already figured out from the few trailers released), and the track selection will allow online leagues to run two or three seasons without treading through familiar territory. It’s very much like rFactor 2 in terms of content, but in an alternate timeline where Studio 397 have an enormous budget and an average score in the 80’s from all major gaming sites that allow them to negotiate with basically whatever brands and tracks they want. I don’t care for the Mercedes Benz ice circuit, nor the rallycross stuff that was recently announced considering most will buy DiRT 4 for their rallycross fix, but I can confirm that you’re allowed to slap dirt tires on any vehicle in the game, and there are a few street legal cars that are a blast in this toss-up format, which is something DiRT 4 doesn’t offer.
Alright, that’s the boring stuff out of the way.
There were initially plans to not include the Formula A car in Project CARS 2, which for those who haven’t messed around with the previous game, it was a generic top level open wheel racer inspired by 2011 Formula One regulations, kind of like what Reiza do with Stock Car Extreme or Automobilista. Straight up, I contacted Ian Bell directly and asked “where is this car?” Honestly, I don’t care for Formula One, and every time I’ve tried to give the series a chance, I’ve either fallen asleep or been left totally underwhelmed by the on-track product, but I understand what F1 means to many sim racers around the world, and heavily pushed for this car to be included in Project CARS 2 even though I personally will never touch it. The car showed up in the next build. You’re welcome.
I think my first week or two was spent on the oval side of things. It’s no secret Slightly Mad Studios are looking to include oval racing in Project CARS 2 after the discipline not making the cut for the original game, but after my first shakedown of the content, I realized a lot of the guys in charge of the artificial intelligence were probably from Europe and just didn’t get how this type of racing works because I wasn’t very impressed with what I saw. Every other day, I would jump on to WMD, and write a somewhat lengthy post breaking down how drivers would approach each individual oval featured in Project CARS 2, where the AI should run, what kind of alternate lines they should take to either attack or conserve tires, and the mentality behind drafting – because it’s not just “follow the car in front.” It’s pretty challenging to describe to guys who have never watched a single NASCAR race in their lives how pack racing dynamics work at Daytona, but I think I did an alright job.
There’s also an oval on the roster that hasn’t seen competition since the 1960’s, so Sev and myself had to fire up a private online session and run laps against each other to understand what drivers would have been doing back then, and of course then go on the forums and say “this is where you hold position, this is where you launch an attack, this is the spot on the track where you MUST fall back into line or else you die, and this is the line you run in the corner for maximum speed on corner exit to get a run on the guy in front…” I found the process enjoyable because writing in a constructive fashion is a huge change of pace from being an asshole on PRC, and you have to employ a much different vocabulary to get the same point across. It kind of made me understand why musicians will start up side-projects; it diversifies their skill set.
People are going to throw tantrums if I talk about physics or the game’s tire model, so be warned that what I’m about to write is what you may or may not want to hear. The cars that have received a lot of attention in Project CARS 2, specifically the GT3 and GTE stuff, drive very much like the URD EGT payware cars in rFactor 2, so if you enjoy those cars to any extent, there’ll be at least two classes of cars that’ll be of use to you in Project CARS 2. I thought this was a meme at first when I read somebody’s impressions on the Sector 3 forums comparing it to rFactor 2, and then again when Sev told us on Teamspeak, but once I got behind the wheel myself, yeah, this is pretty much what Project CARS 2 feels like. I don’t care to sit here and throw buzzwords at you guys, so just go take some laps in the URD cars and that’s what you can expect from Project CARS 2.
Yet not every car is up to this level of competence, but I guess that’s to be expected from a game still heavily in development. A few weeks ago I was tasked with testing a specific class of car that I’m super excited to see in the game (good versions of these cars are impossible to find even in rFactor), and discovered in my shakedown sessions that the default setup warranted lap times several seconds faster than the real life pole time. So after finding this and reporting it, there were a few days where I’d sign on, run laps, post lap times in the appropriate thread, wait for an update to the cars, then do it all over again. We’re much closer to real world performance figures now than we were when I first started running shakedown laps in the class, so I’m glad I took the time to run those cars hard for a few days. On the plus side, one of the cars crashed spectacularly on me in the same manner it had crashed in real life, so that was confirmation the aero numbers were correct. I think y’all can figure out which car I’m talking about here.
Recently we did a weekend-long hot lap competition with a car I’m not too familiar with in terms of setup or driving, and in my quest to dick-wave on the leaderboards discovered a couple exploits and oddities within the setup screen that would have been just as bad as the camber exploit discovered in the first game had they made it into the build that’ll be released on store shelves. I’m still kicking myself for finishing second overall (or was it third?), but the key thing is that a fix is inbound, long before launch, and real-world setup knowledge will be beneficial to your car’s performance – as it should be in a simulator.
Starting today, I’ve turned my attention to a class that has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, and managed to catch some interesting tire heating stuff that had a really adverse effect on the handling of these cars. There will be an insane amount of leagues using this class and I’m doing my best to ensure Slightly Mad Studios get these cars as close to perfect as possible.
I could obviously go into much greater detail, but this is just a little bit of insight as to how PRC is helping out with Project CARS 2. I’m not here to instruct you to buy the game, but with everybody else publishing stuff on the list of features, the cars and tracks that have currently been announced, as well as regurgitating some of the marketing pieces released by Slightly Mad Studios themselves, I’d much rather throw everybody a curveball and do a completely different approach on the subject matter so it’s something unique to read. The game is coming along well, and it’s enough of a genuine improvement over the first release in the series that I don’t feel bad attaching my name & website to it in some fashion.