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Featured A Frustrating Experience: The Project CARS 2 Review

Discussion in 'Project CARS 2' started by Paul Jeffrey, Oct 27, 2017.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

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    Project CARS 2 Review 4.jpg
    RaceDepartment take the new Project CARS 2 game for a spin and share our experiences.

    Now I have to say something in advance of writing this review, I want Project CARS 2 to be good. I really, really do. Sim racing is my passion, and to have another big player on the scene vying for my game time is a very exciting prospect, and something which I found myself getting increasingly excited about on the run up to release last month.

    Frankly I was sceptical after being bitterly disappointed by the original Project CARS game, so it came as something of a surprise when I gradually found myself being reeled in by the relentless marketing push for the new title throughout the build up to a public release, especially all the noise the developers were making about how the game would push the boundaries of realism and "redefine the genre of sim racing". These are all things that grab my attention, massively.

    On face value many of the boxes one would like to see ticked prior to getting out on track have a resounding big fat happy smiley face next to them - loads of cars? Check. Loads of tracks? Check. VR support? Check. Dynamic weather and time of day? Check. These things are all good. These things give the game a massive leg up over the competition before a wheel has even been turned. Unfortunately turning said wheel is when things start to go a little bit wrong for Project CARS 2, and that is where the disappointment and frustration start to creep in to the experience, massively.

    Project CARS 2 Review 2.jpg

    Now I'm no technical expert but I've been around a while, and mixing together my own experiences and using the help of our community and my good friend Mr. Google, after literally hours of tinkering and a download of the epic Jack Spade tweaker file later I managed to get a pretty decent setup going through my wheel (Fanatec CSW V2). This is a massive improvement over the original title, however you still have to work to damn hard to get under the skin of the game to find something half reasonable in the force feedback, which frankly is a shame and unnecessary. Why after all the discussion and criticism from the community levelled at the developers following the original PCARS release do we still have to download a community made file to get the FFB half decent is beyond me, and something that SMS should really consider as a bit of an own goal once all the initial fuss has died down following game release.

    Now don't get me wrong, I still don't think I'm fully in the sweet spot for the force feedback despite my trials and tribulations getting things setup, and the rear of the car still feels too vague for me to confidently begin to push past the outer edge of performance, but in comparison to the original release the overall experience is much better and doesn't kill off the game before it even starts. Not at the level of the other sim racing titles out on the market today, but definitely a decent base from which to build upon.

    Project CARS 2 Review 5.jpg

    So lets break down our impressions into a few key areas of the title:

    UI - Vastly improved over the cluster of mess that was Project CARS. Looks neat, professional and functional. I find flicking through to the different menus easy and straight forward, but still keeping that stylish Project CARS feel and vibe. For me this is one of the most impressive improvements over the original game, and possibly the best UI of any of the sim racing titles currently available. Nice background music too and the bits of Ben Collins speaking about Senna are a nice touch, although these could maybe get a bit tiresome after a few hours of continual play.

    Weather - Visually very impressive and aquaplaning is a thoroughly enjoyable extra dimension. Perhaps more grip than I would expect as my track experiences suggest more throttle steer and better modulation of the loud pedal out of corners would be needed than is currently simulated, however overall despite the limitations in some areas weather in PC2 is an area where the game stands out above its rivals. Some gripes I do have with it are when you get to the randomisation element of this feature, as basically selecting random weather means over 90% of the time you can expect some level of wetness, which is a shame as I would have liked to see more variety in the mix, such as dry running for a number of sessions then maybe a shower at the end of the race or something. Having tested almost 20 race weekends with random weather, I've had rain or snow during at least one session on every occasion...

    Project CARS 2 Review.jpg

    Speaking of snow, lets be honest now, this is a gimmick and one that any serious sim racer will rarely use in a race setting. Strangely this cannot be removed from the weather randomiser, so you could get seriously annoyed when it pops up in a race weekend and spoils all the fun. This really does need to be addressed, as who wants to race GT3's at Brands Hatch in the snow anyway?

    AI - A total and utter disaster. Period. How in the name of all that is sacred did this get past QA I will never know. The AI is simply awful. First corner crashes, no awareness and ridiculously slow wet driving are all regular occurrences that continually pop up to hurt the soul. One evening I endeavoured to do a race weekend at the Nurburgring in a Lamborghini GT3, a car and track combination I hadn't yet tried. At 105% difficulty with a default setup and no fuel removed I finished my 15 minute practice in P23, 1.6 seconds off the pace. This was good, I had some more pace to give in the limited time I had on track, but that is exactly where I wanted to be and I was a happy boy. Maybe another 3 tenths could've been won if I didn't keep crossing up in the chicane, but that was fine. Come my 10 minute qualifying and hey, random weather so time for rain. Ran two laps, put it on pole by 1.6 seconds. Parked it, remained on pole. Hmm.

    Race day comes around and the rain has progressed to a thunderstorm (random weather rain strikes again). Get a good launch off the rolling start and by lap 3 I have 45 seconds of lead, without even pushing the car at all. ESC and back to menu. Little grey X button in the top right hand corner, shut down PC, walk away and mash a cup of tea. Not impressed. Sadly this is the case every time some rain falls, and let us be honest, I'm no Michael Schumacher in the rain. Something is wrong, very wrong indeed.

    Project CARS 2 Review 5.jpg

    Car selection - Excellent. Some really nice cars and a lovely mix of the old and new are included, giving pretty much everyone the opportunity to have a go in something they might enjoy. All the big brands are present, so Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes or whatever takes your fancy can be fired up and raced around the many tracks in the game. A nice nod towards official series such as IndyCar are also welcomed, however the lack of real drivers despite the series licence and liveries grinds a bit, and kinda spoils it for me. Regardless of that little bugbear, you can't really fault the choice of cars in game, and all seem to be of solid quality and look wonderful from inside the cockpit using VR. Very happy.

    Tracks - Again plenty to choose from, however for me the quality varies massively between different circuit selections. Some of them are just downright bad, both the visuals and accuracy, leaving a bit of a hit and miss feel to the whole game and giving one the impression that quite a few have been thrown in just to bump up the numbers, rather than striving to match the quality level expected of a game of this level.

    Quality variances aside, it is nice to see that all the different weather options can be used on all the circuits, and that the game doesn't artificially limit what cars can be used on which circuit. Red Bull Ring in snow driving a WRX? No worries, the option is open for you to try. IndyCar at Knockhill? Go for it. Quite a cool thing to see and something I'm pleased about, if only for the novelty value of trying out weird combinations you would never see in real life.

    Summary - Now I started writing this review very soon after the game released (about a week or so after) and I've parked it until now, half finished, as I wanted to give a bit of space for the developers to patch up some things and get it firing on all cylinders. We've had two patches so far, and still the AI is a joke. Wet weather is pointless against the computer opponents, and the dry weather awareness of where I am relative to the opposition is still poor. Not PCARS 1 bad, but for me at least still not close to the big hitters in the sim racing world. Over a month from launch day, I would expect this to be rectified and frankly I'm shocked it hasn't been addressed yet, making it very hard for me to want to invest any serious time in the sim. Assetto Corsa took a long time to get offline right, but that wasn't too much of a pain as the online stability was pretty rock solid, and more importantly the actual experience of driving the car was first rate, making hot lapping and just simply enjoying the driving experience of the different cars a pleasure, sadly for me at least PCARS 2 doesn't give the same level of driving thrill, it just feels canned and not really an "organic" driving experience. Open up your mind a little and AC or rF2 etc can feel like driving the real thing, PCARS 2 feels like a game. In my experience at least..

    Moving to the online portion of the title is where my experience very dramatically drops off, as the events I've ventured into have all pretty much ended in various levels of frustration and disaster. Netcode has been poor at best, with plenty of lagging and cars floating or spawning at random all over the place. I suspect this has been improved since my last try, but frankly I've not got enough inclination to fire it up and have another bash, so this element of the sim will have to wait a while until further updates are released to entice me back to the game again.

    Project CARS 2 Review 3.jpg

    Now I'm aware that my opinions are probably going to be quite polarising in the community and probably come across a bit harsh, this isn't intended and saddens me to write them. I really, really, really wanted this to be good, and honestly the basics are in place for a very solid racing game. What has probably caused me the biggest disappointment is how I fell for the hype once again, having been promised something that would blow me away and having eventually just sat through what was eventually a light breeze. It feels like I've been promised the best Ferrari in the world, and eventually had a top of the range Fiat Punto delivered. Nothing wrong with the Punto, actually its a rather nice car, but when one expected a brand new 700bhp Ferrari on the drive and looking out over a nearly new Punto just fills you full of disappointment at what could of been.

    Project CARS 2 claimed to be "redefining the genre of sim racing" prior to release, and having sunk plenty of hours into getting under the skin of the new title I can say one thing for sure: despite having quite a few compelling positives if you look hard enough at the game, if this is the new definition of sim racing then I'm not entirely sure I want to stick around for much longer.
     
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  2. DucMan888

    DucMan888
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    The experiment of pCars is over for me. Having tried the first for many hours, and then supporting:O_o::redface::geek: Phoenix (I knew it was on shaky ground when you could race any car, on any track, in any condition) through to pCars 2 has been enough. My library is quickly shrinking of racing sims I care to use and SMS won't be a part of it.
     
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  3. Shaun Clarke

    Shaun Clarke
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    Finally, an open, honest, not a "fan boy" review of PC2. I have heard everything you have covered and said, somethings are AMAZING, but it's the little things that you said, should not of passed QA that kill it.

    Thank you @Paul Jeffrey
     
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  4. Kurupt CDN

    Kurupt CDN
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    Great another RD review thread so we can listen to people complain and argue about opinions.
    The other 2 threads with 40 + plus pages of jibberish wasnt enough we had to start 3rd?
    Sorry to hear about your struggles with the ffb i havent had any issues with the stock flavours and have found the immersive setting to feel great on my Thrustmaster Tx to the point I havent played any of my other sims for mor than 5 mins.
    Surprised about the canned effects comment, especially when you compared it to AC which has several ex. Slip angle effect.
    Personally I thought the driving experience felt very natural.
    If my RL wheel rattled and shaked as much as the default TX wheel setting in AC id be concerned about suspension damage or a wheel about to come off lol

    I agree with some of your points regarding tracks and ai.

    At least you got AC that your happy with.
    Play what you like, if you dont like it....refund it.
    Takes less time and effort than writing a big review of how your dissapointed by it ;)

    Apologizes for the negativity but it just seems the majority of RD have a hate on for this title and enjoy beating on the dead the horse....which gets tiresome after a while
     
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  5. Shaun Clarke

    Shaun Clarke
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    :rolleyes:
     
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  6. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

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    It has potential like I say, and I've got to write a big review about the game - that's my job :roflmao::D

    Appreciate my experiences and opinions will differ from other peoples, and that's fine of course. I try with everything I do to be fair and honest. This is my fair and honest take on the subject. I'm not endorsed by anyone, I'm not beholden to any company. I'm given free reign and trust by RD to offer what I hope is a reasonably trustworthy opinion from a sim racer perspective.

    However opinions are just that, opinions. Mine will be shared by some and not by others, which is fine. This is just my take.
     
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  7. Andrew Ford

    Andrew Ford
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    Paul, this review is and was spot on.
    I must admit, I found a bit of light through career mode when, one bored day I decided to play with car setup in the lmp category. Being pretty good at setups these days I essentially dialled out over sensitive braking and braking instability, understeer on entry, oversteer mid corner and corner exit. The car was then quite fun to drive and I gained 8 seconds in pace because I could drive it.
    The problem was I realised, the setup settings are so complicated and wide in range (for each sub category of each category such as suspension) in a game which is essentially arcade. So to take it a step up to be remotely "simcade", you have to be seriously clued up. The virtual engineer does not sort out all problems - you have to go to some serious extremes. If this game had been more easy to play out of the box and packaged itself as an arcade game, it would have been more forgivable. There is generally really limited force feedback feel and no feeling of speed in this game.

    I did notice that the ai are broken. On my first career mode race during practise and qualifying, the same car remained at the same corner every lap and every time it came into view, it would reverse half way across the track (as if to scare me). Next lap, it resumed starting position and ...repeat.

    Online? On for pole position some idiot takes me out. First lap of race? first corner? Taken out by a divebomb from back of grid. The game clearly attracts a lot of this type of player. It isn't helped by, like you say, broken netcode. Lots of flying cars, teleporting. I never quite figured out (same as in pcars1) how to join a lobby and get on track quickly. Some online sessions you join and you are in the garage, some you are waiting trying to guess when the qualifying sessions is over until you can get on track.
    Finally, the default FOV is completely wrong for most people. Upon picking up this game and trying it the first time, I just thought...how can this game have such poor physics, be made so complicated, be so broken when so many of the older sims such as rfactor, race 07, gtr etc. could get it right?

    If players have the time and the will, they can salvage this game and maybe the career mode will still be fun.
    the question is, why would anyone want to when AC, rfactor 2, automobilista, raceroom and iracing are out there, so much better and easier to pick up and play.

    Thanks again for your review. Opinions may be polarised but good luck to the guys who enjoy it and the guys that don't, don't say you weren't warned!

    Edit: as of 1 day after my post, only "Garfield" angry so far. Not bad going :roflmao:
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
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  8. Celestiale

    Celestiale
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    I agree with the AI, but i think the FFB is better then most competitors (AC for example) with the stock immersive setting. No idea what went wrong with you @Paul Jeffrey. I will wait a few more month and hope for fixed AI, then it will be an enjoyable sim for me.
     
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  9. sjb266

    sjb266
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    Agree 100% with your review.. it's a very disappointing experience overall.. so hit and miss..
    I keep trying it.. but yeah always exit in frustration of poor AI..
    then I go play RF2 for hours!! ;)
     
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  10. jimortality

    jimortality
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    This made me lol! This review is written by an ac fanboy "I really really really wanted it to be good" no you didn't, you're just going along with the rest of the snobby Simracing sheep on this site. Assetto Corsa only took 4 years to get the AI up to some sort of standard yet you expect pcars ai to be sorted in a month!
     
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  11. ronniej

    ronniej
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    Refreshing to see such an honest article and review, and reflects my thoughts to a "tee" on the game which I had such a short time with (2.6hrs) but came to a similar conclusion....Disappointment. Like Paul and so many others, I was more excited for this game than I wanted to admit.......Thank you @Paul Jeffrey

    #RESPECT
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
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  12. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

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    I'm actually an rF2 fanboy, but thanks for your comment :)

    No scratch that, I'm actually a grown man and am mature enough to not be a "fan boy" of anything and keep a level head in order to write fair articles. I have my favourites for sure, but I'm both smart enough and professional enough to not let that influence my writing.

    Wow, 10 points to you, you nailed it ;)
     
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  13. CL0NE

    CL0NE
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    I have to agree with this article totaly. I was an early adopter of PCars 1 and enjoyed it very much and again an early adopter of PCars 2, paying for the privilage on both. I said a month or two befor release if this game is ready for the launch date they have set I will eat my shorts. Well sad to say I was right, it wasn't half bad at launch but then we got the patches and like the man said it hasnt worked. Infact it worse especially on line. All sorts of bugs most of which were not there befor. I truely believe they will fix it as they all ways have but not quick enough to appease most. Very sad as it is the best looking game of all.
     
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  14. paul carter

    paul carter
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    I deliberately attempted
    I fully intended to avoid this title all together. However I decided I’d give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised,jumping straight into GTE cars at Daytona.. then GT3 cars at Imola.. I played around with force feed back an triple screen set up. Found the McLaren 650 an the Ford GT at the aforementioned tracks to be much better than I’d expected..(humble pie I thought.. given my comments on certain previous posts for Project cars 2.) but the more you dig into cars .. an as you mentioned track quality... ? It unravels rather quickly.. take Nurburgring as an example .. the start finished straight looks excellent but the uphill section (s’s) looks like old project Cars ? Hard to explain but looks almost as though they gave a few tracks a face lift.. an threw the rest in from the previous game. Same I feel with the cars .. popular cars such as the GTE an GT3 have had obvious time spent developing them.. sounds an feel are very respectable indeed. I even quite like the Group C Cars .. the more you go through the other large selection of cars they seem not to dissimilar to project Cars (original content.) the Ai is as I expected however.. inconsistent very unpredictable to extremes .. certain corners they almost stop (worse than a brake check) other corners they defy physics . An launch like a maglev train. It would appear effort has been put it to improve the original game ..an they’ve achieved that goal.. but really the targets (ie the Ai an force feed back.. driving physics ) were all targets supposedly that would be patched an fixed in the original game . So my assessment is that project Cars 2 is a corrected project Cars with a DLC pack? Great marketing department though.. their like the lovable rouge .. fool me once etc ..
     
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  15. William Wester

    William Wester
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    I normally agree with your reviews but I have to say I think you are a little off on this one. I'm not saying that you didn't have issues but to say the AI is a total disaster is going a little far. Yes, I heard of AI issues in the rain (and some other areas), and I don't race in the rain so I can't comment but I've had a number of very good races with the AI. My favorite AI is in rF2, but I don't have an issue with the PC2 AI "for the racing I've done".
    As for the FFB, I understand some may have problems but the setup was super easy and it feels just as good as a number of other respected sims. Again, I can only comment on my experience (Thrustmaster TX) but if you read the AC, rF2, PC, AMS, R3E forums there is always someone that has problems or doesn't like the FFB in the sim of discussion. To me rF2 has the best FFB in the business but there are still those that say it's crap for them - it is what it is. I understand you will write based on your experience but I don't believe your experience is an accurate gage of what PC2 is to everyone. My $.02
     
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  16. Mr Latte

    Mr Latte
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    Nice review, well written and justified in my view. We doubted and we were right to have concerns.

    This title may of released prior to Halloween but it really always seemed it was gonna be trick or treat. So to the devs of Project Cars 2 and those who once again made bad decisions.

    I've got something to tell you
    Something you can't deny
    I've taken all that you've given
    I've had it up to my eye
    Can't feel the hunger
    Feel that you can't go on, now
    Stand up and be counted
    Don't push your luck too far
    Stand up and be counted
    Don't push your luck too far

    :)



    I'll get it but when it has had about 5 patches and is dirt cheap....
     
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  17. mister dog

    mister dog
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    Sorry Paul but that's not a very good review IMO. You do make good points about the things that need to be addressed still like the AI's speed. And yes I think this game required additional months of development work especially in light of past experiences with PC1, but you only tried it on your v2 and reading your comments I got the feeling you didn't get the FFB right which hampered the whole experience.

    Try hooking up a T300 for example as out of the box that wheel seems to be better configured.

    It was released a tad too early again there's no denying that, but I think the many boxes that were ticked superseeds anything that's currently out there on the market as a total package.

    FFB is much better and so are the physics, rain racing is realistic now, AI is more aware of you and fights you cleaner, RX is very well done too (almost no mention in your review), online has a working rating system mimicked of iracing which is a nice feature and it has been working well mostly on my side for example, there's the gorgeous dynamic time of day and weather, the improved sounds... Those are the positive points which this game offers which are a bit overshadowed by the overall tone of your review.

    I'm quite confident that the people that stick with PC2 whilst it's polished over the next months with patches will be having this game as their main go to sim until AC2 is released.
     
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  18. Rob

    Rob
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    Great write up Paul. It captured the anticipation, playing experience, and disappointment perfectly.
     
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  19. Kurupt CDN

    Kurupt CDN
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    RD should write a letter to SMS like you did for AC after its release :)
     
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  20. Azure Flare

    Azure Flare
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    And yet people will still praise AC, no matter what, and then :poop: on PCars/SMS whenever they get the chance to.
     
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