Project CARS: Can you Stig? Will you Stig? Dare you Stig? - Games Weekly

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Project CARS: Can you Stig? Will you Stig? Dare you Stig?

If there’s any particular reason I’d give for someone to play  Project CARS , it would come down to a single sentence: “It’s like Shift , but with more cars and a little bit of help from the Stig.” Created by Slightly Mad Studios,  Project CARS started out as an Early Access game on Steam and it quickly climbed the ranks to join other racing titles like Assetto Corsa and Bugbear’s  Wreckfest , duking it out for pole position in the Early Access program.

If you’ve played Need for Speed: Shift , you’ll already have a firm grasp of what Project CARS will offer in terms of gameplay, but there are several twists to the traditional formula. First, Project CARS does not lock content behind pay walls or progression schemes. As soon as you start up the game, you are able to take a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport out on the Nürburgring and thrash it all you want. Players can also hop into different racing disciplines whenever they feel like it. Cash does not exist in the game, only speed and more speed.

It’s not just the freedom that makes the game unique, the technologies in use also make it a distinct experience. In most games the wear on components like tyres, brakes, or the suspension used to be all pre-modelled and put into a lookup table for the game to simulate how degraded your grip levels should be after a few laps. Project CARS changes this and does real-time simulation for your tyres and other components that affect performance. Most other simulators don’t reward more careful driving to reduce tyre wear, but it definitely works here.
“It’s like Shift, but with more cars and a little bit of help from the Stig.”
Many of these changes to the game came from the fans who jumped in early and purchased Tool Packs. These were available to anyone who wanted to participate in the development process, assisting Slightly Mad in content creation, making skins and modifications for cars, quality assurance, and marketing the game through social networks. Through the use of alternative funding models like these, Slightly Mad was able to bankroll the entire development of  Project CARS without a publisher.

To make this change more impactful to the community members who helped develop the game, each contributor is paid a portion of the sales profits for three years after the game’s release. Slightly Mad’s funding model therefore gives these early contributors incentive to get their friends and followers on social networks to buy the game.

On launch the game will boast a selection of over 67 cars from different disciplines and more than 52 individual track locations, not including alternative layouts. To avoid paying licence fees for some circuit names, they are codenamed according to geographical location.

Above all, racing games don’t need to be flashy or graphically supreme to be good they need to be fun to drive and challenging to master. The best simulator in the world won’t have people playing it for very long if the cars handle like barges and the steering feels lifeless.I can personally attest to the driving experience thanks toa demo booth at rAge 2014 where Project CARS was shown off.I was able to get in three rounds of four laps each around the Silverstone circuit using an RUF CTR3 Clubsport.

Right from the start I could feel and see the difference that Slightly Mad’s remodelled Madness Engine made to the game. Driving the off-brand modified Porsche at full blast down the “Hang” straight you could see the bumper camera angle itself a bit skyward as the G-forces pushed on the car at the back. Braking forces the camera angle down and the car begins to feel a little slippery as the rear tyres lose grip. There’s a slight hint of body roll in the corners, but it’s better than what Polyphony Digital does in Gran Turismo 6, which can give you motion sickness. Rain blurs your vision, tyre smoke masks potential dangers and the asphalt looks really gritty and hard. Graphically, its pure eye candy.

Hitting the accelerator again after exiting the “Stowe” corner, a slightly sharp right-turn, the attention to detail in the sound gave me an enjoyable fizzing sensation in the base of my spine and butterflies in my stomach. I enjoyed the Shift series mostly for the spectacular audio, something that’s been lacking in many other racing games over the years as more attention is paid to visuals and capped frame rates.

Having driven a Porsche Boxster S once before, I know exactly what a flat-six engine sounds like and I was hearing that same mechanical melody being pumped out the speakers in the racing seat I was snuggled in. Working through the gears manually, I was able to hear how the car sounded in different rev ranges and gears and it’s definitely something that I want to experience again.

I think that Project CARS is going to find many dedicated fans who, like me, are always looking to fill the hole in their hearts left from Need for Speed: Prostreet  and Shift . Project CARS  is not for everyone and if you’re not a purist at heart and need more structured progression, you’d be best served looking elsewhere. If you’re looking for something new and challenging and rewarding to master, I’d say Project CARS will be right up your alley.

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