For those of you who know us, 9tro deals primarily with real cars (and bikes). From test-driving and reviewing new and tuned cars from all around the world, to featuring related motorsports, meets, exhibitions and shows. On top of all that, we race! So when we received an invitation by Bandai Namco Entertainment Asia to check out their latest Project CARS racing simulator game, we were shocked. Well, just a little.
So what we did, was organise a pizza party complete with a Playstation 4 and a copy of Project CARS. Mixing it all up a tad, we invited down Team 9tro Racing Gerald Tan, Asia Pacific Editor Jackson Toh, Senior Writer Wei Jie Sng and professional gamer Yvonne Yong (Alyse) to our office for a little time attack challenge.
As Gerald is what many would call a professional race car driver, his real-life experiences of racing at many of the circuits available in the game proved to be valuable in our assessment of the game. Furthermore, part of his training includes being on race simulators not too different from Project Cars, which allowed for an added dimension when comparing and evaluating the game.
In the case of Jackson, the last time he touched a console game was back when the Honda Civic EP3 Type R was just launched, which also means the technology for racing simulators and console games were stone-age compared to today. That said, we banked on the fact that he test-drives new cars so regularly it should not be a big challenge to rate the realism of the cars in the game.
As for Wei Jie who is a self-proclaimed professional race simulator guru on tablets and cell phones, alongside Yvonne who literally sits in front of the computer all day as a professional PC gamer-girl, it was to be an exciting night!
Right off the bat, we were impressed! There was an immediate available selection of cars ranging from race cars such as the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 and Audi R18 TDI; road going supercars such as the RUF CTR3, McLaren P1 and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG; even a 250cc Superkart! Unfortunately only one Asian manufacturer was represented, in the form of a United Kingdom-only Mitsubishi Evolution X FQ400. Having said that, we understand the game to be fresh out of the oven, and will therefore take the developers some time before more cars are introduced and made available for download.
The selection of race tracks immediately available were also very impressive. From the complete (and lengthy) Nürburgring Nordschleife to the world renowned Le Circuit Bugatti where the 24 Hours of Le Mans is held, the list can be considered relatively extensive given again, that the game has only been released to the public very recently. Curiously, while tracks such as Zhuhai and Sakitto circuits are available, Shanghai and Sepang circuits were desperately missed. However, if circuits are not your thing, fret not as there are a handful of alternative tracks available as well, such as the California Highway and even a few karting circuits!
Shortly after selecting a car and race track, we punched in the play button, and here our first complaint is to be lodged. The loading time bordered on horrendous. Given modern day technology, we tend to have lost the patience to wait for good things to come, so it might have been us being impatient more than the game taking a long time to load, but adrenaline levels did drop a tad. Then again, like all race car drivers and teams, we know first hand what it is like to wait between practice and qualifying sessions and race-start, so maybe the game developers wanted everyone who played to experience it as well.
For those of us who are focused on statistics and numbers, such as how much horsepower a car has before purchasing the actual car, the game itself boasts some pretty impressive figures rivalling its main competitors, if any. Firstly, if your pockets are deep enough, you can choose to immerse yourself completely into the world of 3D. When equipped with virtual reality headsets such as Sony’s Project Morpheus or the Oculus Rift, you will get to turn your head when driving in the driver’s perspective to see yourself overtake the cars on your side. You even get to check your rear-view and side-view mirrors! Secondly, and only if you scored yourself an end-of-year bonus, connect your console to a 4K ultra high definition flatscreen television to fully enjoy the clarity and vibrant visuals of the game! That said, the bare minimum we recommend will be to at least purchase yourself a good set of steering wheel and pedals!
For our first test drive, we had none of the above except for a single Playstation 4 controller, which will have to suffice till our next gathering!