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Developer: Slightly Mad Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
PC Release Date: August 28, 2020
Genre: Arcade racing
Reviewed on: AMD RX 580, Intel i7-4770, 16 GB RAM, Windows 10 x64, Build 1903
AMD Drivers: 20.9.1
Slightly Mad Studios originally made games for Electronic Arts. After it produced two installments for Need for Speed series, the studio decided to stay in the world of racing and develop highly detailed racing simulation games. Their intentions were clearly expressed in the name of their upcoming title called Project CARS, which was essentially an abbreviation for Community Assisted Racing Simulator. In short, Project CARS was designed to be a game for which would community provide financial funds for further development, but also heavily participate in creation of content, testing, marketing, and even profit sharing after the game would release. When the game was finally released back in 2015, the fans were delighted with Slightly Mad Studios’ final product, as the Project CARS exceed all expectations. Five years later, we now have Project CARS 3. The new game introduced a lot of new things, however, it seems it lost its original DNA which made first Project CARS so succesful.
Basically, it’s still a driving simulation, but for everyone who has played the first two sequels of Project CARS, it is already clear from the beginning that the driving model, and everything related to it, is quite simplified, along with many more elements that will turn inexperienced drivers very quickly into driving aces. From braking to turning wheels in corners, in-game driving assists take care of most tasks and this essentially kills all the joy of driving a sports car on your own. There is no more satisfaction after successfully completing a lap on a new circuit, and path correction has become so aggressive that you practically don’t have to steer your wheels anymore. The overly effective brakes give you a lot of freedom to just “put pedal to the metal” and don’t bother with any braking or speed adjustment, but this in turn makes the driving extremely arcadish. The help system, however, is very useful when switching to a new car, as it enables you to learn the car’s behavior without having to pay greatly for driving mistakes.
To this should be added that Project CARS 3 features a far better controller management than before, which to fans of the series who at some point invested in the steering wheel and associated periphery, will sound like sacrilege, but the fact is that for good results expensive investment is no longer necessary.
At the very beginning of the game players have enough money to buy the weakest car models, which then leads to grinding towards the top. By winning races, you can raise additional funds, upgrade the existing car, unlock new competitions, buy new vehicles (of which there are over two hundred models), and repeat this same process indefinitely. Each race in the career comes with three goals to be met for completion – first usually requires you to finish first, second forces you to achieve designated speed without any breaking, and third requires of you to avoid any contact with other cars, or going off the track.
Breakout competitions are a nice addition to the original gameplay formula, as they offer a lot of joy due to relaxed atmosphere and easiness of hitting obstacles on the tracks, which is without doubt an unusual content for racing simulator game. Obviously, the Project CARS 3 went to a completely new direction, which is why this game features so many simplified and unrealistic game mechanics. If the game featured a different name, or different suffix (so it could be treated as a spin-off), we are sure that fans’ objections and comparison with its predecessors would be much less harsh and acceptable, especially since Project CARS 3 is a very good arcade racing simulation game. Unfortunately, with such big changes, we can hardly call it a real sequel to the series, so we do not recommend buying it until its heavily discounted. For lying on the couch and optionally killing a few hours of free time, then its definitely worth a purchase.