The analysis of Project CARS 3 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC comes out of our particular wind tunnel at 300 km / h. Slightly Mad Studios has taken advantage of part of the slipstream of the first two installments of the series but has drastically changed the settings to develop a more arcade car game that remains competitive on the asphalt.
In recent times, Slightly Mad Studios has experienced a roller coaster worthy of the Laguna Seca Corkscrew.
As a high point, its acquisition by Codemasters stands out, which represents a symbiosis between one of the best studios specialized in car games and the most prolific publisher of the genre, thanks to its work with F1, DiRT and GRID. As points underground, there is the resounding failure of the recent Fast & Furious Crossroads or the disappearance in combat of that crazy thing called Mad Box, which, in the yuppie worlds of some studio executive, was called to compete with PS5 and Xbox Series X.
In that situation, Project CARS 3 arrives, a game that was already in development before SMS was acquired by Codemasters and that was announced a few months ago with the promise of being more accessible to attract new audiences. That made some put their hands to the head, as the first two installments were characterized by their realistic simulation.
This third installment has drastic changes, some for the better and others for the worse, but, equally, it is a great game of speed. Of course, instead of looking like Forza Motorsport, Gran Turismo, or Assetto Corsa, it now looks more like GRID. The balance between simulation and arcade has been changed, and accessibility has been improved, but at the same time, much of the previous baggage has been reused and combined with new elements.
Same car, different settings:
The first thing to clarify is that the handling of the cars is very similar to that of the two previous deliveries. You can configure various aids, such as stability control or traction control, but the sensations at the wheel are very similar, thanks to realistic physics. We are not talking, in any case, of a crazy arcade where you can go skidding just because. Plus, there’s no rewinding, so the experience still demands full concentration.
Slightly Mad claims to have placed emphasis on command management, which gave some problems in previous installments, and the truth is that it controls very well. However, to fully enjoy yourself, it is best to play with the wheel. The sensations are not as realistic as those of Assetto Corsa (the simulator with the best steering wheel control of all available on consoles), but still, it is a delight to maneuver.
The arcade drift, in which Paul Rustchynsky (who was director of the great DriveClub) seems to have had a great role, we have to look for it in other details. The one that stands out the most is the presence of an experience system that rewards our way of riding with points: overtaking, precision in the lines, sportsmanship towards rivals.
More questionable is the total elimination of two simulation elements such as tire wear and fuel consumption, which leads to the consequent disappearance of pit stops, which no longer have a reason to exist. In that sense, there are no longer any endurance races almost all Career mode events are short-lived and have no qualifying sessions. Yes, the damage system has been maintained, although it takes really strong shocks to make it noticeable in handling.
Automotive free will:
The approach to game modes has also changed significantly, in this case for the better. The Career mode is much more accessible and can be adapted to the tastes of each one, without there being an ‘annual’ calendar that determines the tests in which we can participate. There are twelve event groups, each containing sixteen events, for a total of 192 events.
These groups of events are classified according to the types of cars, but the progression is very well planned. Each event allows you to win up to three medals, which are achieved by meeting a series of objectives: winning the race although not necessarily, making a certain number of clean overtaking, following a slipstream for a certain time, etc. If we want, we can unblock the events in a linear way, by adding medals, but, if we prefer, we can spend the virtual money that we are winning there are no micropayments to unlock advanced events. In relation to that, this time you have to buy the cars and progressively improve them, in a way similar to that of the Gran Turismo saga.
So the same, so different:
Project CARS 3 is a strange case. Other speed sagas have unfolded in search of more arcade routes, but it has always been with more obvious swings. It may be the case of Forza Horizon, with its open and festive worlds, or DIRT, with its yincanas or its demolition derbies. However, Slightly Mad Studios has opted for a more subtle change, in which it continues to compete on asphalt with realistic cars, but with settings adapted to more audiences.
There will be purists who do not like this new approach, but the truth is that it has convinced us. At this stage of the generation, it might not have made sense to make a ‘sequel’ that simply added a couple of circuits, something that could actually have been done by adding more tracks, via DLC, to the second installment. Anyone looking for a purer simulator already has PC2 (the most complete of the generation, in fact), but this new more arcade proposal also has a lot of power and offers it to all audiences with traction control.