Project CARS 3 Review – Shift 2 The Right Direction?
In my opinion, a racing game shouldn’t be confined towards a single type of expectations that the community has placed upon. Because risk-taking into something else might help the franchise garner new fans or even make old ones come back in a way that helps expand the genre even more.
But for Project CARS 3, it has been quite a curious case. Hated by many over its move towards the series’ original roots in last seen in Need For Speed Shift but loved by those who enjoyed those games in the first place. Its polarizing effect has taken this game into quite a spotlight but for this review, we’re brushing those thoughts aside and look at it in a broader view.
In the graphics side of things, PCars 3 looks quite similar compared to its predecessor but with some more added weather effects like volumetric fog to make the racing quite pretty for photo mode.
Though the PS4 does suffer from consistent graphical glitches during night/rain combo races and even some slow-downs during snow races which does not bode well. Although it will run at a consistent 60fps for any other races.
Car models are quite good, with some of the cars transferring from the first two games and the newer cars like the Corvette C8R and new Toyota Supra fitting it quite well with the other more established cars from the previous titles.
The UI on the menu and during races looks quite mobile game-esque at times (which is one of the complaints of the fans) but for myself, that feeling goes away after playing it consistently.
For the sound department, the cars all have different distinct sounds as you would expect but some sound like the Formula E cars doesn’t really match its original sound you would have heard on TV. And the race engineer loops constantly at some races, but other than that, the sound and banging race tunes of PCars 3 gets the approval.
Of course, the driving is the core element of a racing game and PCars 3 excel it quite well on both wheel and gamepad. It’s a massive improvement from PCars 2 and does things like being able to catch a car mid-slide and a better car feel all round in wet or snow conditions.
Its career mode is quite different too. Rather than starting from Karting rounds to the top, it takes another page from the Shift games and makes you become a road-racer before climbing up towards the GT field, with the choice of doing the pinnacle of motorsport (i.e Indycar and Formula E) early or late in the game.
Think of it as Gran Turismo 3’s style of championships with some sprinkles of fun stuff like Breakout (kinda like Gymkhana in Dirt series) and hotstints which is pressuring whilst being fun as well.
The AI has also vastly improved as well, with them now not getting stuck at slow corners like the Loews Hairpin in the Azure Circuit and can be quite aggressive when battling the player for the win at times. A great improvement from the last few games and help make new players feel competitive before going to it’s Multiplayer.
Its multiplayer mode is also quite fun and interesting, with a trio of hot laps and hotstints challenges that lasted a month with the daily multiplayer races ala GT, with cars that you already owned or even borrowed for that event.
Lastly, it’s objectives for each race in the categories varies which is fine but some of them are downright hard or bugged even on the medium to easy difficulty. Perhaps some tweaks could be done before the first DLC drops?
Project Cars 3 brings in a ton of car customization that helps make the player design and customize their own livery for them to race on the track. But there is this jarring issue during players racing in any championship where your car gets turned red after the 2nd race onwards. A major bug like this shouldn’t exist really.
The road cars can also be upgradable to the point that you could bring a GT86 into the Super GT category. It’ll be unstable as all heck, but that’s the fun of these types of Race conversion, a Ford Escort from the 50s can fight alongside a Mclaren P1 and it’ll still make sense.
Though I still miss the endurance aspect of PCars with tire wear and pit stops, because those aspects make the original games quite thrilling to play. And it’s variation of races from to dry to wet without tire changes is lacking the thrill of whether or not you have passed your rival or been passed by them.
As a part-time esport driver, I didn’t really care that the main series that I raced in has become what I loved playing back in the 7th gen of consoles. I also feel that a different name should have been more indicative of its intention instead of labeling it as a numbered sequel. Like perhaps PCars: Shift could have been a good title that can make both the sim racing hardcore happy and arcade racers happy as well.
But I do enjoy the driving of this game, and the simplicity of its challenges which kinda feels like a love letter to an era where racing is just about having fun and completing the game to 100% just like back in the 2000s. So in short, I love playing PCars 3.
The game with the identity crisis, PCars 3 is I think is one of the best simcade racing game that you could bring in towards the next generation. It’s a bit rough on the graphics side for now but I assure you, it’s one of those games that you just try it out first, then create an opinion after. It might be your next favorite game.
Reviewed On base PS4. Review copy purchased by the publisher