We take stock of Slightly Mad's racer a year after its initial release and following the launch of the Game of the Year Edition.
Through the power of fan support, London-based Slightly Mad Studios were able to bring their vision of an authentic multi-platform racing simulator to life. One year on from its release and Project CARS has gone on to sell well over a million copies, as well as receiving the green light for a sequel, so the release of a Game of the Year Edition was almost to be expected. This updated version is packed with heaps more content and works to strengthen what was already a solid package to begin with.
The game demands a great deal of time and patience as one slip of the controls can send you hurtling towards the barrier or spun round in the face of your oncoming opponents. But its steep learning curve makes scoring a spot at the top of the podium that much sweeter, knowing that each mistake you have made contributed towards your eventual success.
Rather than rewarding you with unlocks over the course of its career, Project CARS boldly offers all of its content upfront. Meaning that upon booting up your copy you'll be able to take the reins of up to 125 vehicles and partake in a range of events across some of the world's most iconic courses. Without even touching the career, it's easy to lose yourself for hours in the solo mode, toying with all the goodies that the racer has thrown your way.
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Similar to Driveclub, there are some remarkable weather effects on display that have a noticeable impact on gameplay as well as being visually pleasing. Within solo mode, where you can customise your own races, you can select up to four of these conditions, which transition into one another during a race. All weather conditions feel incredibly authentic, whether you're skidding through puddles in the midst of a thunderstorm, or ploughing through a course consumed in thick sheets of fog.
If you're brave enough to dive straight into the deep end, the career mode allows you to do so, giving you the option to start at any point within its 8 tier structure. Here you'll work to strengthen your reputation in the racing world, competing to earn accolades, endorsements and the loving affection of new fans. Displayed on your dashboard is a fake social media feed that is filled with supporters who regularly comment on your performance. Laughably, you'll likely find yourself motivated to score gold and win over the approval of that one fan who was unsure about buying your t-shirt.
As you may have expected, the Game of the Year Edition compiles all of the DLC released since the game's initial launch, but it also sprinkles in its own additional content. The package includes a total of 50 new vehicles, 4 new tracks and more than 500 overall improvements. Returning fans will also be pleased to know that there's two exclusive vehicles from Pagani Automobili, the Zomda Revolucion and the Hydra BC. Additionally, The renowned Nürburgring Combined Nordschleife+ GP circuit is also bundled in as an exclusive, providing players with the opportunity to bolt around one of the world's most demanding race courses.
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It's clear that a lot of tweaks have been made to optimise the core experience, but some bugs still persist even though most of the niggling issues from launch appear to have been ironed out. To its credit, the game is far from the bug-ridden state that it arrived in last year, but it's still not fun to have to occasionally hit restart after being thrown off by an unexpected glitch.
While its list of cars was initially dwarfed by competitors such as Forza Motorsport 6 and Assetto Corsa, the GOTY edition helps to bulk up its figure to a much more respectable 125 cars. For new users the base content and new additions may appear to blur into one as the quality of the vehicle sounds and designs remains consistent throughout. From the lightening fast Lykan Hypersport to the gorgeous classic Mercedes Benz 300 SL, there are plenty of welcome new additions that you'll be surprised weren't included within the core experience.
Running as sleek as ever and featuring an extended collection of vehicles and courses, this enhanced edition fortifies what was regarded by many as one of the greatest racing-sims of 2015. However, besides providing a handful of exclusives, existing players who've been picking up DLC over the course of the last year may find little incentive to make the jump and upgrade (not digitally via each platform's respective store, and certainly not the retail edition). The GOTY Edition instead feels targeted to those who have yet to take the plunge, compiling all of the content released over the franchise's first year on the scene into one superior package.