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Preview: Patiently awaiting Project Cars

BY CONOR MCBRIEN | APRIL 09, 2015 5:00 AM

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Simulating the simple act of driving a high-performance car is reserved for car enthusiasts only.

Having been pushed back not just once,‭ ‬but‭ ‬twice‭ ‬in one week,‭ ‬it would seem that the‭ "‬best looking racing game‭"‬ may not be in anyone‭'‬s hands until‭ "‬mid-May.‭" ‬It was originally supposed to be out in November.‭ ‬Then February.‭ ‬Then roughly this month,‭ ‬followed by roughly‭ ‬this week‭‬.‭ ‬But,‭ ‬plans changed.‭ ‬Oh well,‭ ‬I‭'‬m not torn up about it.

In Project CARS,‭ ‬a perfect example of the realistic but mundane‭ "‬genre‭"‬ of driving simulator,‭ ‬you drive a car.‭ ‬Hoo boy,‭ ‬do you drive a car.‭ ‬In a race,‭ ‬even.

Fellow simulators such as Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo also double as racing games for people who fetishize sports cars but have no imagination.‭ ‬If racing games were on a scale from hard‭ (‬realism‭) ‬to soft‭ (‬fantasy‭)‬,‭ ‬these games err to the extreme of the hard side.‭ ‬Automobiles have been featured in video games for‭ ‬40‭ ‬years now.‭ ‬Almost everything that could be done has been done.‭ ‬Even so,‭ ‬continuing to make the most realistic driving games possible takes the fun out of striving for novelty.‭ ‬Even a modicum of creativity would have been welcomed here.‭ 

Project CARS is the antithesis to comparatively insane driving games such as Mario Kart,‭ ‬making it a perfect game for people interested in not having a good time.

I am biased,‭ ‬because I have never wanted to drive a real sports car outside of a video game because real driving comes without the appealing fantasy involved in driving without traffic laws and sometimes faulty parts.‭ ‬More dynamic games such as Need for Speed and Driver invoke disbelief by having cars perform in impossible‭ (‬or‭ ‬strictly unsafe‭) ‬ways,‭ ‬but their designers understood that games need to be unrealistic in order to be fun and challenging.‭ ‬Older Burnout games make crashes and explosions into a Michael Bay-esque spectacle to rack up points in certain modes,‭ ‬for example.‭ ‬Cruis‭'‬n USA and its sequels escort players into a world in which races can happen anywhere and feature any model of car,‭ ‬regardless of performance differences.

My level of nostalgia for those games is indeed high.‭ ‬I can‭'‬t help but compare Project CARS and its ilk to these older titles.‭ ‬To be fair,‭ ‬I shouldn‭'‬t directly compare them.‭ ‬There is some value to such simulation games,‭ ‬and that is using the available technology to render in-game locales with jaw-dropping graphics.‭ 

Graphics like this were a dream in‭ ‬2005,‭ ‬but the hype from back then is almost exactly the same.‭ ‬Just add better hardware,‭ ‬the game plays the same regardless.‭ ‬The tracks are nice,‭ ‬but interacting with those tracks is restricted to driving.

Bottom line,‭ ‬this game does not appear to be flawed or poorly designed in any way,‭ ‬despite the developers pulling it back into the shop time and time again.‭ ‬But it also does not look particularly fun for folks outside of car enthusiast circles.‭ ‬Racing-game fans may get a kick out of it,‭ ‬if they make sure to judge the game on more than its looks.‭ ‬I predict that Project CARS will simply exist‭ ‬and will likely continue existing in a bargain bin near you when it finally releases.

Project CARS is now slated to be released in‭ ‬mid-May.


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