Use the Downforce, Luke: Project CARS

I enjoy racing games. I have for a long time. The more recent stuff like Forza 2, 3, 4, and Horizon only followed on the heels of stuff like Motor City Online, Need for Speed, Test Drive Unlimited… and even back to the old days. Victory Road and Moto-Roader on the Turbo Grafx. So far back, in fact, that my first taste was the old 4-color Test Drive. The original. The king.

Although there’s been a fair amount of racing stuff on the PC lately, most of my enjoyment in that realm has been on the XBox, in particular with Forza. But I’ve had this here racing wheel for my PC for a while, and none of the racing games I’d tried had really spoken to me. Then I hear of Project CARS, and preorder on the strength of its weather options alone. It released to the public a few days ago, and it’s been a torrid love affair ever since.

It doesn’t have the widest list of cars ever, but it’s hardly lacking: most categories I’d look for are represented here, including open wheel stuff, which I’d never tried before. I now absolutely love open wheel racing. The screenshot above was taken as I did some test laps in a Formula A car (“Formula One” being a protected brand name) around Brand’s Hatch. It takes practice to deal with these beasts, but with some persistence, as well as absolute trust in the downforce the car generates, it can be a complete blast to drive.

At the moment, I’m in 11th place in the overall world lap time standings on the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit, in that F-A. I’m sure that won’t last, but for now, am immensely proud.

Playing a game like this with an XBox controller can be fun, but it wasn’t until I got to screw around with this and my Logitech G27 that it really came together, and for the first time I can say that the force feedback is a really good thing. You can feel when you’re moving fast enough and the downforce begins to push you down. You can feel when the tail starts to go when you’ve screwed up the braking into that corner. This is the first time in my life I’ve felt like force feedback was anything other than a gimmick, or more often, a detriment to the experience.

And of course, the game is very, very pretty.

This has been a pretty incredible game over the past couple days of play time. I can already tell this one’s going to be a prime time-waster for me. But if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make sure my records in the lesser open wheel cars are still standing.