Project Cars 3 Review – Finishing Fast

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Slightly Mad Studio is once again back behind the wheels, this time with the third installment of the beloved racing sim franchise, Project Cars 3. With their eyes set to offer a more accessible racer, we take their latest for the ultimate road test to see if it can handle being on the same tarmac as the rest of the racers. Is this one one racer that gets left in the dust, or does it pave its way to top with it’s new direction? Find out in our Project Cars review!

The Not So Serious Brother

Having played the previous Project Cars title, I was a bit nervous jumping into the third iteration. Since it’s reveal, fans have been rather mixed due to the clear difference in the approach that Slightly Mad Studio was taking.Casting off the the favorable simulator for a more broader appeal. Understandably this may not bode well with the long time fans, though that’s not to say the change up is a bad one.

There’s a huge overhaul to the controls, which in turns offer a far more accessible experience. While racing wheels are without a question the way to play, using a console controller proved to be pretty enjoyable. This transitioned into the overall gameplay as driving felt looser, yet more responsive, giving it that definite arcade feel. While that bit might be an instant turn-off for many, I can’t deny the fact that I was in the very least having fun, and lots of it. I would say it’s comparable to say Driveclub and Need For Speed in how vehicles handles, although there still some sense of a simulator in Project Cars 3.

While keeping your vehicle under control is a lot easier, if you push it too much you’ll still find yourself spinning out in corners and slamming into walls. Take a turn too wide and you lose your position, break too early and there goes all your momentum. Cut a corner and be penalized for cheating. Common rules in a racing sim, and while Project Cars 3 loosens them up, they’re still plenty around to remind you how this series first started.

In fact, a lot of the mechanics in the game encourage following the rules. While not required, you can run laps scoring additional exp by performing clean takeovers, perfect corners, and following racing lines. All this helps in the end in the game’s overall progression, which is presented in a vastly engaging career mode. Accessible from the main menu, Project Cars 3’s career mode spans across 50 tracks, with hundreds of challenges available over the course of events.

You start out with a pretty basic roadster, but as you complete events and earn ranks and currency you’ll eventually land yourself that dream supercar that you’ve always wanted. While slow, progression dishes out a satisfying grind that will have you wanting to go and replay old events just to earn better tune-ups. Plenty of replayability in the career mode alone, though if you really want to up the heat, you can take your driving skills online and compete in a series of races.  Additionally you can also compete in timed scheduled events, and even play in solo online events known as rivals where you compete for the best lap speeds. There really isn’t a shortage of content, making this one beefy racer out there.

Wax On, Wax O…

I’m a sucker when it comes to visuals in a racing game. I know, I know, gameplay is always what should matter, and in this case Slightly Mad has knocked that out, but personally I’ve always been a nut when it came to racers and their visual presentation. While it doesn’t look all that bad, playing Project Cars 3 on the PS4 Pro did have it’s fair share of issues. Upon my first load up I had the title freeze several times, with multiple hitches happening during races.

Some visuals bugs always seem persistent, with certain textures not loading in properly or artifacting occurring in the same spot every time on specific tracks. I can’t speak for the PC version, but on PS4 some of the vehicles look extremely flat in their details, with a clear focus being put more into their higher end models. Overall environment looks dull when you actually look at it, which may break immersion for some.

Don’t ask me what’s going on here, I don’t have an answer

Pop-ins are also a rather big annoyance as while the tracks may offer some beautiful sites, they are ruined by objects quickly flashing in and out in the distance. This also has an effect on some of the shadows, which is more noticeable when driving in first person view. Nothing like having your view get obstructed by stange shadowing artifacts appearing on the windshield and dash. Reflections from the rearview and door mirrors also render objects in very low-poly textures, with some objects not even rendering.

Crossing the Finish Line

While long time fans will undoubtedly be upset in the new direction that the Project Cars series is heading in, I do think that what Slightly Mad Studio have created here is truly the start of something special. With a little more time spent in the oven for better polishing and more fine tuning, I think the change up may be exactly what the series need. Now that does end up leaving a massive hole in the racing simulator market, and perhaps in retrospect calling this Project Cars may not have been the wisest of things, but I do feel it fits right at home with what the studio should be doing.

SCORE 8/10

PROS

  • Perfect balance between simulator and arcade racing
  • Tons of replayability
  • Gameplay feels great

CONS

  • Fans of the series will most likely feel alienated due to the more arcade focus
  • Visuals could have used more polishing as with the performance on PS4

Project Cars 3 is now available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One systems for $59.99

This copy of Project Cars 3 was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Game tested on the PS4 Pro. You can read SP1st and MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here

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