What used to be one of the most accurate and authentic racing experience is having some sort of midlife crisis. Project Cars is a franchise known for being a hardcore simulation game, an experience that required some deep diving before you could actually master it. Project Cars 3 is a rabbit trying to be a fox as it is doing a complete 180 turn for accessibility. Staying true to your heart is an important thing for games, as you buy a sequel you know in basic lines what to expect. While Project Cars 3 isn’t a bad game I do wonder if the Project Cars community is going to accept this new take. It is clear that developer Slightly Mad Studios is aiming for more players with this new semi-simulation and arcade touch.
What we liked!
- Online play and Rivals: Project Cars 3 shines like a bright sun when it comes to online interaction, especially Rivals is really fun and engaging. It stole a few great working ideas from other racers, one of them are scheduled online events. Here you can earn better starting positions with time trials before the scheduled race starts. Matchmaking also takes into account how fair you play, so if you aggressively overtake others you will be matched with similar online gamers. But the real star is the Rivals mode, a hub with daily, weekly, and monthly time trials and mini-games that earns you points for an overall Rivals leaderboard.
- Yes, we have circuit Zolder and much more! It is a little bummer that Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps isn’t in the game but there are over 120 tracks! Our Brazilian writer can be happy too as the impressive Autodrome Jose Carlos Pace is included. Having so many tracks is a blessing for every enthusiastic racing fan. Project Cars 3 features many signature turns from a selection of real and fictional circuits.
- Customization and upgrading cars: Does it make sense that a Class E car can go head to head against a supercar? No.. but it is fun to have that option. Plenty of customization options are available to make your car stand out with livery. Upgrading car parts is really important so you have a better chance of winning or getting faster lap times.
- Rewarding campaign mode but with flaws: As with almost every aspect of Project Cars 3 the campaign mode is entirely different now. You go through different car tiers unlocked by completing three mini-objectives in each racing task. Important to know here is that the race result doesn’t halt progression. I am not the biggest fan of these mini-objectives as some of them require you to not play for the win, or make it harder to do so. Most of the time you’ll need to be below a lap time, or pass a few cars without bumping or mastering corners. What really struck me down a little was the slow cash earning, at some points you are required to buy a specific car but getting the amount of cash can be a grinding thing.
What we disliked
- Weird AI: Almost every time a race started the AI bumped my rear, that’s evidence enough how silly the AI drivers are. How challenging the opposition can become depends entirely on the track, the optimization is all over the place. This wasn’t such a big deal in the previous two Project Cars games as the handling was way more complicated. With the new handling physics that is much more mistake friendly and the assists that give you guidance, the typical challenging gameplay from previous Project Cars is completely gone.
Having played Project Cars and Project Cars 2 it was a little weird to have my hands on Project Cars 3. It is much more open to all racing fans now but the existing hardcore simulation community must be scratching their heads. It is far from a bad game as it looks good, plays well, and gives a lot of content, with no Forza game insight this game is very welcome on Xbox!