Vehicular Particulars: Project Cars Launches November

By Adam Smith on April 25th, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

Project Cars is a ludicrously pretty game. I’m not the kind of fellow who feels the need to have a cold shower every time a fancy car drives past but I do appreciate attractive machinery. The cars in Project Cars look more like real cars than the cars that I can see outside the window right now. As well as looking more realistic, the digital cars look far more expensive (I live just inside Salford) and are going quite a bit faster. On top of all that, the music playing in the background of the trailer gives the automobile extravaganza a far more grand and elegant air than my current choice of The Walkmen’s Bows + Arrows (not as good as memory suggested). Basically, if you appreciate shiny cars going very fast then this is probably the video for you. Game’s out November.

Is this what Jeremy Clarkson watches while he performs a manual gear change?

Project CARS, for those who may have forgotten, is a community-funded racing game. I know what you’re thinking – all games are community-funded nowadays. Quite so. However, using a proprietary portal, Slightly Mad (they behind Need For Speed: Shift) reckon that they’ll be providing backers with equity in the project.

It’s out in November.

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47 Comments »

  1. BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

    Speaking of Jeremy Clarkson I wonder if he knows about this game? I know he sometimes plays Gran Turismo, and he was involved in one of the Forza’s.

  2. Dogsbody says:

    The current Project Cars build is shaping up fantastic. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s going to supplant Forza and Gran Turismo for Bestest Car Game Out There. Dead serious; the handling is getting there, and they’re building the game we always wanted to play, but couldn’t because of turrible consoles limitations.

    • Cis Scum says:

      The fact that you compare it to Forza and Gran Turismo shows that you’re not very into Sim-racing at all.

      • cHeal says:

        Nah it’s actually going full tilt on the simulation side of things. It’s definitely going to have the most advanced physics system of any game on the market but whether that translates into a superior driving experience on release is no sure thing.

        To put in perspective what SMS are doing, the FFB is going to be driven entirely by the physics system, by the actual calculated travel of the suspension and steering rack movement. The ambition is no canned effects. Achieving that is difficult though. Physics testing has been underway on the new tyre model for nearly a year and there has been a lot of hit and miss as the engineers figure out exactly how the end user experience is being produced. This process has been incredibly slow but is definitely paying off as the issues with handling and FFB are slowly being solved. Rene Rast certainly appears to be happy with the work being done!

        Aside from that pCars has the most advanced climate simulation ever designed for a game. Not just time of day simulation but time/date/lattitude/longitude simulation so sunset in Dubai, in high summer will look significantly different and happen at a very different time to sunset in Donnington in winter!

        Altitude is also being simulated, whereby the amount of oxygen available to the engines will be simulated in it’s effect on engine performance.

        I’m pretty confident that the handling model and FFB will be on a par if not superior to some of the very best games out there GSC/AC etc.. but with the great graphics, car selection and track list I think it will seriously challenge Forza & GT.

        Regards Jeremy Clarkson, The top gear website have blogged about this video so if he has any interest in racing games, he may well have heard of it now.

        • Cinek says:

          Good, good. Been waiting for this game for a long, long time, and each time I hear something about it – it’s precisely what I’d like to hear about racing sim. Looking forward for the release :) Seems like it’ll be one of these extremely rare cases where game will actually manage to meet the hype build around it.

        • trjp says:

          nkPro called – it’s already laughing at your claims about physics and it’s about 5-years-old.

          • rpsKman says:

            Of course, but besides rFactor 2, there will not be anything hardcore like that on PC for a long time. pCARS will be good enough for many people, a bit like Forza and GT.

          • cHeal says:

            so nkp had no canned FFB? Full weather simulation incorporating date and geological location? Altitude simulation?

            I’m not going to get into a flame war between pCars and AC or whatever. Neither game is finished so it’s rather pointless. The fact is that pCars will be the most ambition and most advanced (technically) simulation ever released. That doesn’t make it a better game than whatever you prefer. It doesn’t mean it will be best racing game ever. The handling model, as advanced as it is still has a lot of little quirks and FFB isn’t as good as AC. It’s all rather wait and see.

          • fish99 says:

            You could write a list of all the things a racing sim simulates, and it doesn’t mean a damn if it doesn’t simulate them well. That’s not a comment on pCars btw, I’ve never turned a lap in it, just pointing out that a list of technical features is fairly meaningless.

            Btw there have been sims without canned FFB since at least 1998, maybe earlier.

          • cHeal says:

            But I’ve already addressed that very issue. On a technical level this will be the most advanced racing sim out there. Whether that translates into a great racing experience has little to do with that though. Neither has it got much to do with the quality of the simulation, as much as it has the application of that simulation and it’s interaction with controllers.

            Personally I still consider GTR 2 or Grand Prix 4 two of the best simulations because they actually simulate the sport, with pitstops, strategy, weather, AI etc. I’m not super seriously interested in convincing myself that sitting at my desk with my G25 is anything like driving the real thing. It’s not. But with good AI (or good multi), weather, pitstops etc.. I can enjoy the thrill of racing!

  3. derbefrier says:

    Sweet. I got Forza 5 the other day and have been enjoying it but I’ll definitely pick this up for PC. I have heard the physics are kinda wonky though hopefully that all gets worked out.

  4. Llewyn says:

    Surely if you live in Salford at least some of the cars passing your window will be going about that fast, accompanied by their own noisy musical soundtracks (and the trailing sound of sirens).

  5. PopeRatzo says:

    Is this more driving around on a track? No thanks.

    Sing, Lo! for the open highway…

    • Graedient says:

      Yep, racing tracks are designed to make it highly improbable that you will smash head on into something, and somehow, that makes it all a little dull for me.

    • Kelron says:

      It does have some road tracks, though not open driving.

  6. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    That Audi R-18 E-Tron is insane. That thing sounds like a jet fighter and can do corners at 340km/h. That’s the stuff F1 cars dream of.

    Though the best sounding car at Le Mans this year is definitely the Toyota TS 030, which sounds like a muscle car crossbred with a spaceship..

  7. The Random One says:

    I was going to say something about how there is no way those cars look more real than real cars, since with their weird aerodynamic frames and tons of advertising they look more like Hot Wheels, but, compared with most British cars, it’d be difficult to tell which ones are further from the platonic ideal of a car (which is a 1987 grey Ford Escort with a small dent on its rear bumper).

  8. trjp says:

    I’m still heavily ‘skeptical of this title – for 2 reasons

    1 – the developer’s recent track record is not amazing and this has been ‘on the boil’ for a while
    2 – they talk ‘sim’ and yet all the screenies are ‘glamour shots’ and there’s a console version and – “Jack of all Trades” leaps to mind

    To deal with 1 – their immediate ‘previous’ are TD Ferrari, Shift and Shift2 TD:Ferrari has the worst in-game progress system the world has ever seen – Shift had wonky handling which never really felt like you were fully in-control of the cars and Shift 2, whilst quite a bit better, was still not really quite there (and retains one of the dumbest unfixed bugs in history – if you chance your Origin password, you can no longer play online!!!!)

    As for 2 – ‘sim’ players tend to be very particular about their games and even a whiff of ‘assitance’ will cause them to pull crosses and holy water out. Meanwhile, driving games on consoles – where GT and Forza have MASSIVE market penetration – are a different thing entirely

    I they’d said “we’re doing GT6/Forza for the PC” I’d be more interested – if they were PC only and talking ‘sim’ I’d be more interested – but they’re aiming wide – I really hope they don’t miss entirely…

    Oh – and one last thing – they just chose to release in the busiest month of the year – and that sets-off alarm bells with me in it’s own right.

    • cHeal says:

      The screenshots are all taken by the WMD members, not by SMS themselves!

      For me, pCars and Shift 2 have nothing in common in terms of handling. Some of the looks still have similarities to Shift, but the physics model has been totally re-written from scratch. pCars has pitstops, it doesn’t have a career grind, it has full weather and far more stuff being simulated. It’s a substantially different game. People who claim it feels just like Shift are basically talking out of their arse because there is literally nothing left of the Shift handling model and the new system is based on totally new principles.

      I agree somewhat on the wide aim. You can’t please everyone.

      • trjp says:

        I think that’s going to be the absolute key to this. The thing about PC driving games is that everyone likes some and dislikes others – people have their own ‘wishlist’ and they demand some stuff be there AND some stuff NOT be there

        On console, lack of wheels means the game needs to work on a pad, be accessible to a wide audience (read as ‘contain loads of cars and look amazing’) but it also has to be different enough to appeal to people who already own Forza/GT6 (you cannot compete head-on with those – too much money behind them)

        Now the PC lacks a Forza/GT style game – a ‘simcade’ racer which offers loads of cars/track, requires some skill but offers a range of assists, has a proper career and loads of multiplayer gubbins etc. – but when you talk ‘sim’ on PC, you’re not just taking about that at all. A ‘sim’ means -a focus on multiplayer, cars which are genuinely hard to drive and really require a wheel – looks are secondary and any game which offers things like “career” and “achievements” is often written-off as ‘arcade’.

        Conundrum!

        No game has yet conquered both markets. Race tried but it’s console release was a fizzle. None of the other ‘PC sims’ have appeared on console and the other “console racers” on PC aren’t particularly highly regarded (read that as Shift, Shift2 and the TD/NFS games really)

        So as I said – I’d have more time if they’d just admit what they are actually aiming to make – because the claims being made are scattershot and they simply cannot possibly make that game.

        • pez2k says:

          The aim actually is to encompass both, even with true sim physics it’s possible to add enough assists to make it drivable for less experienced players. Race Pro suffered mainly through underwhelming graphics and a lack of a proper career mode, both of which Project CARS is avoiding, and other than that as you say there haven’t been any of the major PC sim developers even attempting a console game.

          When it comes to the NFS games and TDF, neither were really intended as sims, SMS themselves seem to consider them less hardcore than Forza or GT. They were the products of big publishers, but the last time the SMS team were left alone to make a game they came out with GTR2.

          As for the stigma of using assists, that is definitely a thing. The goal with Project CARS is to avoid gamey magic assists where possible, and introduce real-world assists. For example, a real BMW Z4 GT3 actually does have traction control, so the car is most realistic with TCS enabled (and the assist is tuned to behave as it does on the real car). When players accept that real racecars do have assists, it becomes less of an issue for them to turn on one or two more assists such as stability control to help them drive. It also avoids the bizarreness of Forza, where driving a Mercedes SLS for example is faster with the ABS system turned off and somehow manually operating the clutch, despite that being much less realistic than using ABS and paddle-shift. In Project CARS, the most realistic combination of assists will generally always be the fastest.

        • cHeal says:

          You’re definition of sim is ridiculous to be honest!

          The term is essentially meaningless tbh. It is whatever people arguing on the internet, want it to be and it will always perfectly describe their preferred racing game..

  9. Geebs says:

    It kind of looks more like everything else than anything else

  10. FecesOfDeath says:

    Project CARS looks better, but Assetto Corsa plays better.

    • Cvnthvlv says:

      I disagree.
      The fact that AC won’t let players with an H-shifter use it in cars that only have a sequential gearbox enrages me to no end. Let me play the goddamn game however I see fit.

      • trjp says:

        It’s that level of “I want everything” which kills half the racing games out there tho

        For every maniac who demands to use a H-Shifter in a car which would never have one – and would slow them down considerably – there’s someone who’ll argue that it’s “unauthentic” and probably refuse to play it ‘because’.

        One of the curses of the gamer is playing ‘the game that’s in your head’ instead of ‘the game which is on your PC/console’. Try enjoying a thing for what it is and not what you hoped it would be eh?

    • bill says:

      Yeah, but everytime I see the name my mind reads Vauxhall Corsa.
      I spent months wondering why there was a thread in the RPS forums about Vauxhall Corsas.

  11. SuicideKing says:

    It’s odd, the actual-on track shots looked a lot less pretty than the slow-motion type ones.

    Anyway, I quite liked NFS: Shift (except the parts that i didn’t), so hopefully Project Cars will live up to the hype.

  12. bill says:

    I can’t say it looks mind-blowingly prettier than other car games in the video or the screenshot on this post.
    I remember seeing a few shots from some racing game a year or so back that I genuinely couldn’t tell from the real thing – this looks clearly like a video game. (it’s the shinyness/lighting I think).

    On the other hand, they seem to have modeled every component of the dashboard and engine…

    • pez2k says:

      Yeah, there’s the chance of losing entire body panels in a crash or rolling the car over, so everything inside and underneath is modelled. The level of detail is crazy, the Sauber C9 has individual wires in the engine bay, the Zakspeed Capri has the correct 3D badge on the top of the turbo intercooler, that sort of thing.

  13. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Driving the other week IRL, I realised there’s still something slightly missing from car physics models, and thats the way they respond to the millions of subtle bumps in the road.

    In game, movement still looks ‘floaty’ or smooth compared with reality. IRL, you watch a car accelerating from stopped. At the lower speeds, most of the car will react to bumps – the body will hop slightly, as do the wheels. Then, as the car gains speed, you notice the suspension absorbs more of the bumps, and the body seems to stay flatter and smoother, whilst the wheels jiggle away in the wheel arches to meet the road’s imperfections. Cornering is a symphony of body roll and jittering wheels, and as the roll takes the travel out of the springs, you begin to see more of the bumps being felt by the body again.

    You can see from the body language when its on the edge of its performance – it gives you a rush to watch. At the moment, racing physics does not seem to include it, and feels somewhat inert to watch as a result. This may be a level of simulation too far, but in these videos all the tracks look as if they are perfectly smooth with no tarmac ripples. The cars do react to kerbs or major bumps convincingly though.

    • fish99 says:

      Question: have you raced any sims that have lazer scanned tracks? They do feature every little bump, you can feel them all and the car reacts to them all (and can be seen doing so in replays). I’m talking full lazer surface scans here btw, not just lazer or GPS to get the dimensions of the track.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Wow, no I must admit I have not. Can you give some examples? That would be cool to see.

        • fish99 says:

          iRacing is the obvious example, where all the tracks are lazer scanned. A warning though, it has no AI, you can only race against other real people, and it has a monthly fee and charges to use many of the tracks and cars. Having said that you can try it out pretty cheap. It’s for real motorsport enthusiasts, it’s not a flashy car game like Gran Turismo.

          TBH I don’t know which other sims have lazer scanned tracks. I think Assetto Corsa has them.

      • trjp says:

        Couple of things

        1 – lazer doesn’t exist – it’s laser, it stands for ‘light amplified by stimulated emissions of radiation’

        2 – it’s one thing to ‘laser scan’ a track but how much of the data gets used in a sim in another thing entirely. Do you WANT every bump and ripple and scratch? Can your physics model handle them??

        Bumpy tracks aren’t that unusual tho – RACE has been doing them for years – rFactor supports them too – but used wrongly/too excess they will just make the game feel random and naff.

        What I find tends to work better than actually having ‘real bumps’ is providing some feedback for sudden movements. Games which ‘pull back’ on the camera for acceleration, “push forward” when braking, shake the display (a bit – don’t go nuts) for impacts and hard cornering – that actually adds quite a bit of involvement.

        We don’t need Shift2′s level of ‘blurred vision’ for impacts perhaps – but that did deter people from being too crashtastic!

        • fish99 says:

          I can tell you laser scanned tracks make a huge difference. iRacing have a ton of experience laser scanning and their physics model can absolutely cope with them.

          Dave Kaemmer’s simulations have always had the best feel to them IMO, from the original Indy 500, Indycar Racing, Indycar 2, the Nascar Racing series, the sublime Grand Prix Legends and now iRacing.

          • trjp says:

            iRacing (and the other sims you list) are at the top of the pile of ‘serious’ sims tho – they’re arguably not ‘games’ at all.

            Were Project Car’s aimed at that marker, instead of all those shiny paintwork shots we’d be seeing careful shots of tarmac ‘grains’ (tho we did get grass shots – perfects they’re focussing on the infield?) :)

            To be clear – I’d love this game to be everything people are saying it will be – but it won’t be, it can’t be and I the disappointment alone could well kill it for many people.

  14. trjp says:

    One other question if I may – all the people who are already playing it (backed through WMD I guess??) – do they have to buy it again or have their already “bought it”

    e.g. is a significant chunk of their potential sales (on PC at least) already done and not likely to be repeated?

    • pez2k says:

      The WMD backers who have contributed 45 Euros or more get the game for free on the platform of their choice. It’s not actually a significant chunk of people though, there are around 86,000 WMD members including duplicate accounts and members who registered but never contributed any money, and around 19,000 of the members who did are under the 45 Euro margin.

      • trjp says:

        Even if just a few thousand people contributed at that level (and I’m pretty sure they were claiming an income in 7 figures so it’s likely 10s of 1000s) – that’s still a lot of ‘non sales’ when the game is released?

        That’s obviously mostly going to affect the PC platform as I don’t think console versions had been announced when WMD first came along??

        I imagine most of those people are the ‘hardcore racer’ types – which gives them even more reason to make a more widely appealing game – because a lot of the ‘hardcore’ have already bought it anyway? :)

        • pez2k says:

          Indeed, it’s still a few tens of thousands of people, but if the game was only going to sell 100,000 copies it’d be a pretty huge flop even for a race sim. It’s less of the hardcore market than you’d think too – at the time SMS had just put out Shift 2 and had shown nothing of Project CARS, so it was funded on trust that they could replicate what made GTR2 great. A lot of people were skeptical, but have since been proven wrong in my opinion.

          There are definitely a fair chunk of copies that have already effectively been sold, but it’s not a big enough number to massively impact margins over five platforms. It is something that was brought up and discussed inside WMD early on, and I’m pretty satisfied that it’s not a problem. I think you’re actually the first person outside to notice and bring it up. :)

          It was announced on PC, PS3, 360 and Wii U by the way, and there are some people who funded it specifically for the console versions, but most people did sign up primarily to test the PC builds.

  15. apa says:

    Don’t you have any gearhead’s in RPS? All the car game news seem to be either “I’m not into the sim side…” or “It’s almost as good as Burnout Paradise!” depending on the sim/gameness. Just ditch the bus ticket and get a car! :)