Project Cars 3 - 1 week on, my thoughts.

MagpieRacer

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England
Wymondham, Norfolk
MagpieRacer
After a rough start to life for PC3, including a scathing first impression from myself, I decided to keep the game and give it a chance. Put aside my 2am tired ranting and give it a fair shot.

I'll caveat this by pointing out that I am on console, Xbox One X to be specific, so any platform specific issues I can't comment on, so I'm not ignoring issues other platforms may have, this is just all based on my own experience. Likewise with certain comments an aspects, its relating to console gaming only. Let's go.

I, like many here, backed PC1 very early (when I did have a PC for gaming), way back when the only content was the Lotus 49 and Imola. Its come a long way since then. For better or for worse, thays up to you, but one thing is clear with PC3, it has gone in a different direction.

The good:
Let's start with the good stuff. And there's plenty of it. Whilst the car list is lacking some things from the previous titles and there wasn't as many new cars as we would have hoped, it's still a banging list that should wet the appetite of all motorsport fans. Group C, Group A, TCR, NASCAR, Indy, Formula E and countless others all represented. Likewise, again although we have lost a couple of big hitters, the track list is still unparalleled.

One of the things with the tracks that stands out to me is the feel of each circuit. I feel that SMS have really captured the essence of the circuits beautifully, the environments are believable and, on circuits where I have real life experience, absolutely bang on detail wise.

Following on from tracks, LiveTrack is still here and is as good as ever. It's not as nuaunced or pronounced in career mode with the shorter races but longer races in custom racing and later in career really show what its capable of.

The career mode, is another big positive for me, the events are plentiful with good variety, and, crucially, makes good use of the circuits on offer, something I feel the first 2 games didn't do. E.g. I cannot recall either of thenfirdt 2 games utilising Lydden Hill (Road circuit) in a series, or anything bar the longest layout of Dubai. With how many circuits and layouts there are on offer, its good to see them being put to use. With so many career events, this is a big plus.
The hotlap and pacesetter events in particular are excellent, and really require you to nail the circuit to hit the fastest target, which is as it should be.

It's great to see customisation in this title. However basic/limited it seems compared to say Forza, the fact it has been implemented when the previous 2 games didn't have any at all is a big plus. I find there to be enough versatility in the livery options to get some nice results, and its nice to see thay you can still choose from one of the many prebuilt liveries for each car if you dont want to make your own. Which is also good as there is a huge array of excellent liveries for each car, real world where possible, heavily influenced where not. I dont mind the lack of a decal creator as I think there is a really good selection of decals available.
The upgrades, again, while basic in form, provide plenty of options to keep me entertained when progressing through the career.

The driving experience. This, having spent a week with the game, has been the most divisive part of this title. At first, I found the hidden assists frustrating and intrusive, but the more I played, the less I cared. The cars feel intuitive and fun to drive. The opposite lock assist no longer bothers me as with time I learned to ignore it and it fades into the background of the experience. Has the realism been scaled back, yes, is it less fun because of that, no.

Contrary to a few other reviews, I do feel that the cars have individual character. Especially with the assists all off (though I do leave ABS on). The Megane RS, nose dives into corners under braking before inducing a bit of tyre squealing understeer as you apply too much throttle, or gives you a good dose of lift off oversteer as you downshift into 'not the degnas' on Sakitto, which can be caught and bought back with a dollop of throttle, and the back end hops about over bumps hoping the front end still has traction to keep it in check. Whereas the Lotus Exige Cup is sharp and skittish, wanting to be balanced on the knife edge as you hurl it througha turn faster than you shoukd have, the tight chassis keeping it in a check with a hint of controlled oversteer, before being unsettled through the bumpy final stretch of Oulton Park as the stiff chassis and suspension ping pongs the car down the road.
Its very visceral and if I'm not careful I can lose a lot of time just lapping different cars, or even the same car repeatedly. They are engaging and joyous and its these moments where I thank the pad gods that I can now enjoy these cars and tracks and I forget about hidden assists and just enjoy the driving.

Graphics. I have the Xbox One X, I play on a 55inch Philips Ambilight 4k HDR10+ TV, set to prioritise resolution, and I think it is gorgeous on the whole. As mentioned earlier the environments are convincing and all feel different. The car models are excellent, textures are handled really well and the lighting is consistently good throughout. The visual fidelity is very nice with detail resolved to a good standard across the whole screen. The new smoke effects are welcomed and various other particle effects have improved noticeably as well.

The bad:
Traction assist. The opposite lock assist i have gotten used to, the traction assist I still notice, its too intrusive, I get that the OL assist is a key part in making the pad control as good as it is, but I feel that if I'm turning traction control off, it should be off. It feels like it's just on what other games would call low. Its more noticable on bumpy tracks and when your attacking kurbs but its noticable enough to be annoying.

The racing and AI. It simply isn't enough of a challenge for the most part. On legendary AI, 5+ second wins are frequent, and I'm not a fast driver. It kills the enjoyment of an otherwise fine career mode. Every now and then it spews up a race thats hard to win, but when that happens its done to such a degree that even in a lower PIR car, the AI just disappear on the straights and carry ludicrous speeds into corners (UK Challenge on Hockenheim in Road C is a great example of this, 15 seconds behind the leader in less than a lap despite having the highest PIR car). The AI difficulties need a serious looking at.

Customisation. I'm featuring this in bad as well as good, because there simply isn't enough pattern options, and whkme the decal selection is good, its lacking some obvious ones, namely manufacturer specific decals, which would add a lot to the editor. Also, the driver Customisation is pathetic, I'm loathed to even call it Customisation. Pick from 10 different styles, each of which has preset looks and present helmet designs? And none of them even look that good. Poor, poor effort. I also feel its a shame, considering there arent any car or manufacturer specific patterns or decals, that you can't just apply your livery to all of your cars via the team menu. For those wanting to have a consistent theme or brand it would save a lot of time.

Progression. You can tick off events quite quickly in career which is fine, but the credits don't come fast enough to keep up with the class progression. I like being able to tune my car up to the max to keep it through the classes, but I would also like to be able to be earning enough credits that I can buy and enjoy cars relatively freely. I'm not talking Forza 7 levels of just throwing cash at your face but is earning credits for winning races just too much to ask? It would be less of an issue for me if it wasn't for the final bad point.

Lastly, my biggest bugbear. Lack of custom race options, including custom championships.
I known why the classes have been done this way, it streamlines the career mode and makes the structure make sense, fine, I get that now having played it. However, I'll use my trusty touring cars as an example.
I love touring cars, I love the fact this game, like PC2 before it, has a decent selection of modern day TCR based touring cars. I hate, however, that I cannot choose to race the touring cars against each other. Why!?!? I know its not a limitation of the design or engine or anything like that because in career mode when I reach GTC class, there are dedicated touring car events! Why TF can't i do this in custom racing! Ridiculous. It HAS to be given more options and more controls so that we can tailor races to how we want it to be. There is no physical reason I can see why this shouldn't have been jn and why it cant be added.
Custom championships I get might be harder to add, which begs the question why on earth we're on the 3rd game of requesting and asking for this feature, why we still don't have it. So much potential and replay value being wasted. Especially as custom races earn credits and XP.

The meh:
This is for stuff that can be, and needs improving through patches etc, but I dont consider to be bad points.

Sound. I think it sounds absolutely fine, the cars all sound different, the tyre squeal is progressive and not annoying, pops and bangs are convincing and change slightly depending on the car. However, the mix seems wrong, it needs to be balanced as the engine and exhaust notes can get lost behind too loud transmission whine and on the whole seem too quiet. And for god sakes get rid of the music through the tannoys. I genuinely feel that many peoples audio criticisms can be fixed with better audio mixing.

Upgrades. When I turbo a GT86, I want it to sound like I've turboed a GT86. The upgrades barely do anything, if anything at all, to the sounds, could be a bug, or an oversight, would be nice to see it fixed.

I haven't come across any game breaking bugs and haven't had many visual issues as others have had here. 1 race at night on the Texas Road course left a bit to be desired but that's it.

Conclusion
On the whole I think this is a very fun racing game, it has an awful lot going for it and has the potential, with a few tweaks that can hopefully be patched in, to be one of the most enjoyable racing games of this generation. If you can see past the flames and the name, therein lies a game that will suck your time away, and, as it has done for me on numerous occasions, make you wonder why you would play anything else. It has its flaws, it has polarised racing game fans, it was marketed poorly and certain people within SMS definitely didn't help. But if you can do as I did and clear your mind of that, there is a very good racing experience waiting to be uncovered.
 
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I CANNOT believe that after 3 games,there STILL isnt custom championships. How many times have we requested it?! With the car classes and tracks that were on offer in all Pcars games - what the hell is their issue with not including it?!

Even when its mega cheap,id just refuse to buy this game just cos of their stubborn refusal not to put it in.
 
I think the multiplayer scheduled races are well set up and a lot of fun - just need to get more people playing.

Thats good to know, I dont play online personally (hence lack of online info) but its good to know its been done well.

Well written!

Thank you :D

I CANNOT believe that after 3 games,there STILL isnt custom championships. How many times have we requested it?! With the car classes and tracks that were on offer in all Pcars games - what the hell is their issue with not including it?!

Even when its mega cheap,id just refuse to buy this game just cos of their stubborn refusal not to put it in.

It's frustrating for sure. I'm thankful the career mode has mostly been done well (except the inconsistent AI), it makes up for it a little bit but yeah, in a day and age where even the official F1 game with its notoriously tight licensing has a superb custom championship mode*, ACC, Dirt Rally 2.0 and more, (I think even Grid has it). And while Forza Motorsport also annoyingly lacks custom chamlionships, it does have an extremely robust set of custom race options. They're just losing out on a huge portion of replayability and I'd be willing to bet there's other people out there who would hang their decision on the freedom of proper custom races and championships.


*Seriously its awesome, one shot qualifying? Feature and sprint races? Reverse grids? Multi class racing? All present and correct in an official F1 game.
 
Great review, totally agree with everything especially about the AI inconsistency. For me this is the biggest issue and I hope they can tweak it at least a little.
 
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