Codemasters and their newest acquisition, Slightly Mad Studios, have released the trailer for Project Cars 3.
It has been met with mixed reactions, with many comparing the gameplay reveal to something more like Forza rather than the hardcore racer it has previously aspired to be.
It seems they can’t win, though. Previous titles were criticised for being too difficult to drive, especially with a controller, Now, criticism is levelled at it not being realistic enough, and some are worried it is headed towards Need for Speed Shift territory.
Check out the trailer for yourself:
There looks to be a huge amount of content, with over 140 tracks (quite likely including minor variants of course), over 200 Race and Road cars, and newly added livery customisation, driver personalisation and vehicle upgrades. More than a little similar to the likes of Forza and Gran Turismo, then.
It makes sense that Codemasters would want a piece of the pie, but should that come at the expense of significantly changing an established IP? Looking at it optimistically, Project Cars is actually pretty well suited to this switch. Refining and simplifying the handling to something more akin to Forza 7 and GT brings them in line with an already proven formula. Loads of cars, loads of tracks, customisation. It’s a popular genre for a reason.
From the newly released Project Cars 3 site:
- Fully scalable assists for all skill levels
- New tyre model for convincing & fun handling
- 24 hour cycle, dynamic all-seasons, all-weather racing
- Unrivalled controller experience
- Intense crash effects and authentic car-contact
- Enhanced AI
- 12K and best-in-class VR support (PC)
There’s a few interesting things in that list that stand out.
The scalable difficulty is nothing new, and every driving game bigs up its new improved tyre models. Enhanced AI is often touted as being more lifelike and closer to real racers, but in all honesty, it rarely is.
What stands out, for me, are the other items on that list. With the recent surge in popularity for competitive racing games, especially SIMs, more people are looking to replicate that authentic race feeling. Although authentic car crashes and contact is desirable, it’s only so if it doesn’t come at the cost of never being able to have a clean race as trolls try to have the most epic, YouTube-worthy pile-up possible.
Rubbing is racing – smashing other cars off the track or P.I.T manoeuvring them out of your way (like in the trailer) certainly is not. It’s hard to be too critical of a trailer that’s designed to be exciting, but it does bear cause for concern for those that prefer clean, close racing to bump’n’smash gameplay.
Full dynamic seasonal weather is obviously very appealing. Being able to race the same track in dozens of weather combinations, including snow and rain, is a great way to add variety and longevity to a racer and makes for some challenging and entertaining online racing. If they can nail the feel between the different seasons, this could be huge.
Project Cars has long championed VR racing. Of all game types, racing is surely the genre best suited to strapping a helmet onto your head and disappearing into the virtual world. An approachable, content laden racing game done right could not only garner great sales among enthusiasts, but could also bring more people into VR in general.
12K support is an outlandish claim, however, as realistically, probably about 1% of the population (if that) have a rig capable of pushing that out at any more than a handful of frames per second. We have the new RTX cards and Big Navi coming out later this year, so I may be proven wrong, but for now it comes across as a meaningless boast.
The main thing Project Cars has going for it over its likely competition, though, is the variety of circuits. Each iteration, the established titans add a few new circuits, but lose just as many fan favourites. At the same time, each iteration sees the likes of Suzuka, Silverstone, Nordschleife, Mugello, Le Mans et al recycled time and again.
Circuit fatigue is very real in racing games. Indeed, even just a quick scan of comments about anything Forza related, for example, will show you countless people saying, “We don’t need more cars, give us tracks!”
Project Cars has shared a few of the more popular circuits, but at the same time it introduced a huge variety of fresh circuits. Tracks people haven’t driven countless thousands of laps on over the past 15 years. This is why the new direction they seem to be taking could not only work, but be hugely successful.
Codemasters have released some quality racing games recently, so I for one am very optimistic. Dirt Rally 2.0 is exceptionally good (and now Codies have the WRC license from 2023, sure to please many fans), F1 2019 was, again, superb, with F1 2020 looking good from early reveals (they would have to try pretty hard to fudge that one up though). GRID, the soft reboot of the old TOCA franchise, was also enjoyable.
With Codemasters’ hand guiding the project, I’m going out on a limb and saying this could be a great addition to the CaRPG stable.
Project Cars 3 releases this summer for PlayStation, Xbox and Windows PC.
The official website for Project Cars 3 can be reached with this link.