Project CARS (Sniper)
Genre: Racing
Developer: Slightly Mad Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Windshield wipers that push aside dynamically-generated droplets, puddles that form organically on the track's contours, gravel that gets kicked onto the road during events... these are elements that nearly all contemporary racing games have, and Project CARS is no different-- albeit, its totally dynamic weather system is rather distinctive. But even if its feature set is only ordinary, the game has an exceptionally clean look, which lets its sophisticated lighting model shine.

The engine sounds in Project CARS are the best this reviewer has ever heard from a video game; the red-line, rip-roaring cacophony of snarling exhaust pipes explodes out of the speakers, with extraordinary contrast and clarity! Even the pit crewman's voice, heard through the controller's speaker, is almost surreal in its life-like qualities. The fly in the oil pan though is that this game's soundtrack follows the "Turn 10" way of using cheesy, overly dramatic orchestral work as menu accompaniment.

The venerable "Need for Speed: Shift" engine was used as the foundation for Project CARS, but was heavily modified with features like a fully dynamic tire model. The road cars feel perhaps a bit floaty, but the kart and LMP physics are probably superior to those in the Forza Motorsports titles, and certainly better than their equivalents from the Gran Turismo series. A mind-numbing quantity of laser-scanned tracks are available, while the ultra customizable career mode has a very pleasing sandbox quality to it.

Project CARS isn't the prettiest racing game-- although it does look good-- or the title with the most cars, nor is it as realistic as the hardest of hardcore PC sims. What differentiates it is that it's, to this reviewer's knowledge, the world's first pure, general purpose motorsports simulator: events have practice rounds, qualifying, sprint and endurance races; the player can define his own pit strategies which his actual crew will implement; and in the real-time 24 hour races, the player must also carefully monitor fuel usage and tire wear. As a sandbox sim racer, Project CARS is truly unique-- and it will be exciting to see what the game's developers dream up for the impending sequel!

Sniper's verdict: