The ultimate driver journey returns with over 120 global track layouts. Try out over 200 cars on the path to road racing fame and glory. Project Cars 3 is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Project Cars 3 Details
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Developer: Slightly Mad Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Modes: Single player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Surprisingly arcade-style racing
Without much time put into previous games in the series, I find Project Cars 3 to be a bit surprising. My impression of Project Cars is that it’s more of an authentic racing simulator. I expected something along the lines of a Forza or a Gran Turismo type of experience.
However, I have to say that Project Cars 3 gives off much more of an arcade-style vibe. Certainly not to the extent of driving off track, busting billboards or making ridiculous jumps that defy the laws of physics. Nonetheless, the overall tone of racing in the game is far less formal than that of a hardcore racing simulation.
It’s easy being mean
For example, I find little in the way of punishment for falling into bad habits. It’s not difficult to barrel into the inside corner of a turn and play bumper cars to gain places. You might get a “dirty pass” warning, but the consequences just aren’t there.
Movement is still quite realistic though, so if you miss, you definitely will suffer. Taking a turn poorly without rubbing your opponent out in the process will leave you many places behind as you struggle to accelerate back to speed. Ultimately you can play unfairly—you just have to be sure you do it well.
Without any real incentive to play nice, it’s difficult for someone like me to obey the rules. It may not be my initial intent, but impatience seems to win out over the desire to form a realistic style of play. The easiest path to victory inevitably becomes the most appealing.
Quick races with less cohesion
Even the career structure feels more like a collection of pop-up challenges than a series of compelling championships. Although you progress through a number of circuits and championship events, races are short and mostly lack any sense of true accomplishment.
They feel so much like pop-in events without direction that on numerous occasions I nearly repeated the same race twice. Without Project Cars 3 prompting me on to the next race in a series, I had to pay close attention to make sure I was doing so myself and not simply repeating the last one. There’s no real sense of progression, just bite-size race after race.
Grinding out wins and rewards
Compounding this is a set of three challenges accompanying each event. These side goals yield extra rewards for simple tasks such as mastering turns or overtaking a number of drivers in a set period. Don’t get me wrong, they are fun to chase. Nevertheless they add to the feeling that Project Cars 3 is more of an arcade racer than a true sim.
These sort of mechanics fall more into the realm of instant gratification over long-term payoffs. If you’re in the mood for something quick and easy that you can jump in and out of, Project Cars 3 delivers to be sure.
For me it feels less like a game that I want to play for hours at a time, and more like something I’m going to visit over time for shorter sessions to grind dailies. Without a doubt Project Cars 3 leans into the “make sure you come back tomorrow for more credits” model. There’s nothing wrong with arcade style fun, players just need to be aware of what type of experience is awaiting them.
Racing assists that encourage learning
One thing I find refreshing in Project Cars 3 is its approach to racing lines on novice settings. Other racing games have become accustom to drawing the entire optimal line for players coming into a turn. This often extends to colour-coding that even shows where to brake or accelerate.
I appreciate the fact that Project Cars 3 tries to get newbies to do a little bit more for themselves. Instead of drawing a full line on Novice difficulty, it rather marks just three major points. It shows where to begin slowing down, where to aim for into the turn, and where to aim upon exit.
What it doesn’t do is tell players exactly how much to slow down. Thus, while newer players will get a sense of when it’s appropriate to let off the gas or brake, they still need to experiment a bit to decide just how much.
When testing out this difficulty I find I rely much more on realistic skills. For example, I’m actually watching the brake lights on the cars in front of me rather than the red-shading of a non-existent overlay of arrows. In this sense I think Project Cars 3 strikes a good balance. It helps newer players progress while still compelling them to improve rather than rely solely on assist overlays.
Project Cars 3 takes the game in a more accessible direction for new players
In the end Project Cars 3 appears to move in a new direction for the series. For a franchise that I perceive to lean towards realistic simulation, it’s surprising to see such a heavy arcade-style influence. Quick races, side-quest type challenges, and inconsistent deterrents make Project Cars 3 feel much more like an arcade racer striving for realism than the other way around.
I’d say Project Cars 3 is likely trying to accommodate newcomers entering the franchise more so than catering to hardcore racing sim fans familiar with the series. Quick rewards and instant gratification show a design that gears toward easing players in, and subsequently luring them back for more. The actual racing game play itself is fun, and I enjoyed the time I spent on the track—however for me it feels more like a in-and-out “daily grind” experience than something I’m going to invest lengthy hours in chasing long-term career mode goals.
+ Novice assists that help develop skills over hand-holding
+ Plenty of tracks with multiple goals to accomplish
– A clear arcade-style shift for a series known for leaning towards true simulation
– Unclear or absent punishments make it difficult to choose between clean or anything-goes racing
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF PROJECT CARS 3
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5
Overall Rating 3.8/5 (75%)
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