Recently Slightly Mad Studios and publisher Bandai Namco Games teased the upcoming sequel to its phenomenally popular driving simulator, Project CARS (our man AJ legitimately missed a couple of days work because of it). And while the trailer itself does look awesome, epic graphics and the chance to drive the latest GT3 weapons on-track are not the only reasons to get excited about the new Project CARS 2
1. It’s been in the works since the first game arrived
The success of the first game may have caught a lot of diehard gaming nuts by surprise – crowdsourcing raked over $3 million – but that didn’t stop developer Slightly Mad Studios and publisher Bandai Namco Games green lighting a second crowdsourcing program to fund the sequel to Project CARS. A more vocal exercise it was too, with fans either furious that the publishers were seemingly ditching promotion of the first game in a rush to ‘churn out a sequel’, or vocal enough to offer developers and programmers the insights they’d been missing from the first game. Development of Project CARS 2 then has effectively been in the works for close to two years, with lessons learnt and feedback adhered too, presumably, making the second game a much stronger instalment than many might think.
2. A full line-up of circuits…
Slightly Mad Studios (developer) and Bandai Namco Games (publisher) aren’t shy in stating that Project CARS 2 features ‘the largest track roster ever seen on console’, with more than 50 circuits – including the Nürburgring, La Sarthe, Road America and even Mercedes’ ice track testing facility among others – already on the list. And yes, we checked, the Dubai Autodrome makes its triumphant return too.
As you’d expect, realism plays a heavy role in Project CARS 2, with the cars offering 1:1 digital craftsmanship and pro drivers virtually honing the characteristics of each model a la real world simulation. The circuits are no exception, with laser scanned surfaces working in tandem with drone shot photography as developers inject extra realism in their coding.
3. …and all major manufacturers “are now in”
The fact that Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Corvette among others were not part of the initial line-up Project CARS was a major kick in the balls. Licencing issues have seemingly been relaxed for the sequel though, with game director Andy Tudor confirming that ‘all the major manufacturers are now in’, to the extent that the full line-up is 170 models strong. Tantalising, especially given that the Aston Martin Vulcan, the new Honda NSX and unhinged Mercedes-AMG GT R among others make appearances in the announcement trailer.
4. Online competition and eSports
Competing with your fellow raceheads around the world is pretty much a foregone conclusion for any contemporary race game, and Project CARS 2 has gone big in this regard. Gamers now have a selection of international championships to compete for, and with the series now recognised as an official eSport, expect some hefty cash prizes to be on offer for those who master the simulation. How hefty you may ask? Well, let’s just say that eSports generated $325 million of revenue in 2015 across an audience of 226 million people, a figure that was upped to nearly $500 million just one year later. Winners can expect at least a healthy number of zeroes with their prize money…
5. Project CARS 2 is gunning specifically for Forza and Gran Turismo
According to Tudor, the virtual racing scene is now a three-way fight, with the newly developed Project CARS 2 looking to take the fight directly to Forza and Gran Turismo, two series that won’t take too kindly to being in another’s crosshairs (“we’re here to win”, the man himself has been quoted as saying). This pretty much makes a follow-up to CARS 2 an inevitability…
6. It’s not just circuit racing anymore
Another quibble with the first game was a lack of rally stages, Slightly Mad Studios and Bandai Namco Games preferring, especially with a crowd funded project, not to hedge their bets, and stuck with circuit racing. Not too many details have emerged, but chances are looking good that RallyCross and IndyCar fans – yep, America’s biggest single seaters are jumping on-board – won’t be left disappointed.
7. Weather plays a bigger factor
What particularly interests us is the sheer attention to detail Slightly Mad’s coders have gone to with the circuits. Weather options mean you can race in pretty much any conditions, but as part of the LiveTrack 3.0 software, ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ races don’t apply anymore. Corners more ‘rubbered in’ than others for instance will offer more grip, while areas of the track that dry out quicker based on real world geography mean circuit conditions will prove more inconsistent. Elements like air pressure, track temperature, the time of day and wind speed can actually affect engine performance, aerodynamics, cooling from the radiator, brakes, and tyre behavior, so jumping in and giving the virtual beans might not be your best strategy.
8. Virtual Reality
If you’re like us, you’ve marathoned at least a couple of VR ‘horror experiences’, laughing and only occasionally empathising with the poor fool behind the headgear trying not to piss themselves. There is more to the Virtual Reality experience though than YouTube trolling, Tudor saying – but not quite confirming – that Oculus Rift and HTC Vive compatibility is just around the corner for PC players, and that PlayStation VR support, hopefully, will be good to go just after the launch.