Slightly Mad Studios reveal a raft of new images and more details of some of the new functionality due to ship with the upcoming Project CARS 2 game for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. With the hype train already well underway from Slightly Mad Studios following the recent official trailer reveal yesterday morning, the studio have now released a number of new in game images from the upcoming Project CARS 2 title, as well as revealing some interesting insights into what players can expect from the title on release - expected to be around September 2017. It goes without saying that the Project CARS franchise know how to make pretty games, even the original Project CARS that shipped back in 2015 can still safely claim to be one of the most visually impressive products in the racing game marketplace today, but can the studio deliver more than just an attractive empty vase? We are well aware that the 2015 release for many players did not deliver the true simulation racing experience that was touted in the extensive marketing build up for the title, and what's more the game shipped with a frankly unacceptable number of issues and bugs that flew in the face of the claims from the studio that the game was made and thoroughly tested by thousands of sim racing enthusiasts around the world. That was then, and SMS have no doubt listened and learned from past mistakes as they look to launch a new title with the benefit of past experience behind them. Don't get me wrong, many many people were so satisfied with the original game that SMS eventually managed to shift over 2 million copies of Project CARS1, so commercially at least the studio can be pleased to have met their internal targets. I for one suspect that the gaming public will be a little more cautious second time around and need to see ample proof that the new game has done what was required to put to bed any remaining issues the community felt were holding back the original title. Judging by some of the comments from people such as Studio Head Ian Bell, and reading up on the wave upon wave of marketing material published by SMS in recent days, I'm starting to feel optimistic about the future of this sim, and here's why. In today's image reveal SMS have gone on to give a little bit more information on what goes on behind the scenes in Project CARS 2, and if taken on face value it all does actually sound quite impressive. Firstly it looks like the studio have continued the tradition of getting professional racing drivers to help the feel of the car. No disrespect to Nic Hamilton, but this time the studio looks like they've enlisted the help of some more established stars from the world of motorsports, whose combined experience in a raft of different machinery should hopefully help SMS in the quest to ensure the car handling in game finds itself closer to the real life equivalents. Already confirmed as driving model consultants in PCARS 2 are two-time Le Mans winner Tommy Milner, Audi factory driver and new DTM driver René Rast, stunt driver and former BBC Top Gear "Stig" Ben Collins and Rallycross and sim racing champion Mitchell DeJong. Now that's an impressive list of quality drivers who should have a solid handle on how a real car reacts on the racing surface. Looking more closely at the game itself, it looks like SMS have taken the decision to open up the title to a more varied array of racing disciplines. No longer will the game be limited to just circuit tarmac racing, we've already seen previews of Rallycross and ice road driving, plus the respective cars to run on these tracks, but it looks like SMS have taken the decision to open up these forms of motorsport to allow any car and track combination in game. Fancy driving a high performance open wheel car on ice? Well now you can... Admittedly this isn't the most sim focused move the game developers could make, but it should offer up some interesting driving experiences and at least it shows the devs are willing to and able to give players the freedom to chose whatever experience they want to achieve, which is nice to hear and makes a refreshing change from finding certain content locked down to certain tracks, as we experience in a number of games on the market at present. The studio claim that Project CARS 2 will pick up where the original left off and "shifts the franchise into overdrive with an overload of new and improved features, enhanced accessibility, and gameplay". This can only be a good thing. With an ever increasing shift in consumer expectations 2017 means a new racing game really must look to incorporate laser scan technology in the way in which tracks are represented in a game. This is an area PC1 did not achieve very high marks. Ok the game benefitted from four British tracks with laserscanning results, but realistically this process has now become the new benchmark for racing sims and a title that professes to be the "Pinnacle of simulation" Project CARS 2 needs to do better than that. The new game will boast over 60 unique tracks, a record for console games, so it is pretty fair to say getting a laser scan for each and every location in the release will be a near impossible task, and with such a massive number included on launch, not having a full range of laserscanned circuits can actually be forgiven somewhat. However the studio have made a solid attempt at improving the numbers for the new game, and now claim via a recent Q&A with Ian Bell that many of the previous tracks from PC1 have been rescanned using drone technology, something rarely seen in simulations at present. Additional to the rescanning of tracks found in the earlier title, it looks like PC2 will be able to boast "a dozen newly scanned" tracks. If this means 12 brand new laserscanned circuits, or just 12 previous tracks having had a new scanning treatment it is hard to tell at this stage. Bell did say that any new tracks to the franchise have been scanned the traditional way, so that could be an early indication of the number of new locations due to make it to the game? Other points of interest from the latest press release include the rather expected confirmation that VR will be fully supported in Project CARS 2, a fact that doesn't come as much of a surprise following the frankly outstanding support in PC1, plus the studio confirm they will offer support for 12K - what in the name of all that is holy is 12K? Whoever has a setup like that (I can only assume it's x3 4k monitors) is sure for a visual treat in the new title! Towards the end of last year eSports seem to be getting more and more of a popular phrase that people are throwing around in connection with racing simulations, and at this early stage it looks like SMS plan to continue down the path first furrowed by PC1 with the new title. With this type of competitive environment a reasonably new thing for sim racing in comparison to the already well established first person shooter genre for example, SMS have looked to take on board lessons learnt from the original game and expand out the functionality considerably in Project CARS 2. The latest statement goes on to say that - "With a brand-new, fan-requested Online Championships game mode that allows racers to make and join ongoing racing leagues, Esports functionality built-in from day one (including Competitive Racing License accreditation), Director/Broadcaster integration and streaming, and with a collection of new motorsport classes including Rallycross and IndyCar joining popular classics such as GT3 and LMP1, Project CARS 2 delivers the authentic racing experience". Now this all sounds very fancy, and could well be a golden ticket for those wishing to host their own leagues, but with sometimes rather dubious online experiences as seen in Project CARS 1, I would rather wait to see how the game performs before getting too excited about this side of the new title. So now we get on to the fun bit, the thing that I personally think will be the making (or the breaking) of this game and the single most exciting thing about the sim that I'm most looking forward to. Live Track 3.0. So what is Live Track 3.0? The idea is that the circuit acts as a living thing, much like rFactor 2 do with their "real road" technology. From what I understand a car can drag mud and gravel on to the racing surface and it will stay where it has been left until it is cleared by other cars passing over the top of it. What's more, if you drag dirt onto the track and then it starts to rain, that dirt will interact with the wet weather and turn into slippery mud! This is a very exciting new addition to the sim and could become a bit of a game changer in terms of how a track evolves during a racing weekend. Added to this the new dynamic weather conditions and puddle formation (where the puddles form naturally in depressed areas of the track, creating aquaplaning possibilities), then the way the car interacts with the atmosphere and racing surface will be a considerable upgrade from the original title. All the above are great ideas and features but will be less than worthless if SMS produce a wonky physics engine in the new game. Project CARS 1 received much criticism for the feeling produced by many of it's cars in game, something that the developers have been hard at work to rectify in the new title. "We're excited by the significant advances we've made in the physics and mechanical underpinnings of each of our 170-plus cars. That, along with a vastly enriched climate and weather simulation system on all 60-plus tracks, and new simulated surfaces—dirt, ice, snow, and mud—makes Project CARS 2 by far the most authentic and immersive racing sim we've ever created," said Stephen Viljoen, Game Director - Project CARS 2. All in all it looks like things are shaping up rather nicely for the series from what we hear so far. Time will tell to see if this game can be a genuine rival for the likes of the current simulation kings, or if the game will be pitched towards a more Forza orientated experience. Either way it looks like SMS are well on the way towards shipping another 2 million plus copies over the next couple of years. Project CARS 2 is due for release towards the end of 2017. The game will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. To keep in touch with all the latest news relating to Project CARS 2 head over to the RaceDepartment Project CARS 2 sub forum. Here you will have an opportunity to join up with your fellow race fans and discuss the new game. Head over today and get involved in the conversation right now! Looking forward to the new Project CARS game? Does anything revealed so far particularly take your fancy? What cars would you like to see included in the new title? Let us know in the comments section below!