After much deliberation, persistence, perseverance and rage, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that Slightly Mad Studio’s Project CARS just hasn’t lived up to my expectations. As a Motorsport enthusiast, Project CARS had a lot of appeal, and anticipation levels ran high right from the day it was announced. Its been around for a while now, and I’ve sunk enough of my time into it to reach this decision. But its time to switch of the ignition now and let it gather dust at the back of my collection.
Just to be clear, this is in no way a review, and as a technical achievement Project CARS still rates highly on my lists. There are of course flaws, with any new IP that falls under the category of new-generation, flaws that shouldn’t really be there, but it’s something we’ve just come to accept as gamers. For some reason. If you’re still wanting to try this game I’d urge you to do so, but approach with caution with the Xbox One as the game is still suffering from what I’d call game breaking issues that affect the overall experience.
To elaborate further, Project CARS was an ambitious IP for any developer to sink their teeth into. The problem was that whilst it had a publisher it didn’t have the funding these new IP’s are generally used to, and thus turned to the World of Mass Development for crowd funding. The patrons there welcomed the concept with open arms and the game quickly found funding thanks to the generosity of the community. But video game development is an expensive business, and crowd funding was never going to see this game to the end, which led to a couple of short falls when comparing it to the competition, car list for example. Acquiring licensing to feature cars within a game isn’t cheap and thus Project CARS is missing a lot of key name manufacturers from the world of Motorsport, forgivable in a game where driving is not the primary experience, but in a game that’s centered around Motorsport? It just isn’t right to not see a single Ferrari thrown into the mix.
Before Project CARS was released to the market, this was easily my primary concern, I quickly got over it when I saw the locations that would be making an appearance. Still it would be nice to see a few more cars thrown into the mix. Trivial really, but again personal opinion and only a small segment of the overall issues that have made me put down the controller. So forgive me for this but I’m going to have to throw some comparison into the mix. The Forza Motorsport series is one of my all times favorite IPs, it isn’t without its problems but my experience within the games has always been to a high standard. Forza Motorsport 5 for example feels fluid and smooth, the racing is always fast paced and very good fun. Project CARS is a far lesser experience in that respect, the gameplay just feels cheap in comparison, as if its been released in beta form without that all important polishing final phase. I personally feel like the handling model has been purposefully designed for a wheel setup neglecting those of us who don’t wish to spend the additional money as the controls just feel twitchy and unfinished. Furthermore the game is riddled with bugs, making for a less than desirable overall experience, especially if you’ve turned the difficulty up to suit your skill level. However what really gets me is Slightly Mad Studio’s approach to the bugs, since launch I’ve experienced one patch which doesn’t seem to have sorted much yet players have been expected to fork out additional money for DLC which was launched earlier this month. Come on guys, fix the game then launch your DLC. The worst part is the DLC has caused additional traumas further affecting the game in a negative manner. At the time of writing, the Xbox One version of the game is still suffering from online stability issues, matchmaking issues, frame rate drops in races and an annoying bug that makings AI opponents almost impossible to beat in the wet. The PC and PS4 version are also experiencing issues that overshadow the experience of the game.
Finally, lets not of course forget about the fourth platform, the Nintendo Wii U. This is a bit of a grey area for Project CARS as no official announcement has been made in regards to the game being cancelled on the platform. However in a recent interview covered by ourselves, Slightly Mad Studios Boss Ian Bell admitted they were having difficulties and may have to wait for an E3 announcement from Nintendo before they make up their minds as to whether or not continue. Such an announcement was never made and the only thing to come out from the Studio is a sequel, which frankly is an insult who wanted to see the game make an appearance on the Wii U. We dread to think if there were individuals funding the game in hopes for a Wii U version.
In conclusion, I think Slightly Mad Studios bit off far more than they could chew with Project CARS. The concept was great and appealed to gamers and motoring enthusiasts alike but the execution has led to a poor, bug ridden experience that just hasn’t lived up to the expectations of the community. I personally would have rather seen the game scaled down to relieve the Studio of some of the strain rather than end up in the situation we’re in now. I feel that Project CARS should have need undergone development without proper, publisher funding and the fact it didn’t only showed a lack of confidence from Bandai Namco, who acted as distributor for Slightly Mad Studios. As far as the Wii U version of the games goes I feel they deserve an official announcement from the Studio, either give up admit you messed up and move on or at least express some desire to bring the game to market. Don’t just leave the community hanging in limbo.