Slightly Mad Studios community funded racing game Project CARS has been met with mixed reception having not followed a tried and trusted formula the racing game genre has seen for a number of years. With no rewards being offered and everything pretty much available from the get go, it’s an interesting approach that might not necessarily gel with an audience that needs to be patted on the back every so often. However, aside from how the game is set up, the actual gameplay and options on offer make it a rather lucrative deal for those who want to sample a wide variety of vehicles on real world circuits. But is Project CARS the best racing game on PS4/Xbox One to date?
Project CARS is not the only racing game to provide such luscious thrills though and with the likes of Forza Motorsport 5 showing that each iteration can improve on the last, there’s some stiff competition – although in this case Forza 5 is some two years old now as an Xbox One launch title. The inclusion of Drivatar technology and massive customization options is an impressive feat and makes playing the game feel a lot less formalistic than most other racing games.
The more recent Forza Horizon 2 again proves there’s improvement with time and new hardware compared to the Xbox 360 original release, although a distinct departure from track racing and moving into the open world gives the game its own driving flavour that can’t be matched. Here it’s perhaps a matter of preference, but there’s no denying Forza Horizon 2 is a fantastic game in its own right on a technical level and for sheer fun and games having such a diverse living playground to drive around.
Ubisoft are no strangers to racing games and came in hard with their technically impressive The Crew game which for the first time offers the most impressive open world real estate to drive around. Having the entire USA at one’s finger tips is an excellent idea for a game but at the same time the racing (and convoluted story) weren’t as interesting as its premise suggested where bigger doesn’t necessarily translate to a better experience.
Need for Speed Rivals places an emphasis on open world racing but adopts a unique approach of allowing players the chance to become the law which none of the other games offer. Whilst this is very much an arcade like experience, the added uncertainty of avoiding the cops whilst racing certainly makes it stand out from its peers – although on the flip side, this approach is an acquired taste.
Back on the tracks and Sony’s visually impressive arcade racer Driveclub ticks all the right boxes and provides a no-nonsense thrilling racing experience on PS4 with a variety of top of the range vehicles. The game offers some fantasy circuits based on real world locations and is an accessible experience for the masses. It’s certainly a testament to less is more although a shaky start, no free version as initially promised and bountiful DLC options has hurt the game’s appeal which detracts from a very competent racer.
To conclude and having played all six games here it’s quite hard to pick an overall winner considering they all offer something different. The visuals and ease of play of Driveclub are excellent, the expanse of The Crew unrivalled, the sheer fun of Forza Horizon 2 unmatched, the cops vs racers in NFS Rivals unique and the human like approach of Forza 5 brings online play offline. Project CARS on the other hand offers the most diversity in its vehicle classes, a massive amount of options to tailor and the choice of a pure sim approach or arcade style making it the most rounded competitor on this list. It’s a close call between the two Forza games and Project CARS but overall in terms of sheer racing enjoyment and options afforded to it, Project CARS has it by a nose.