Project CARS stole the attention of car lovers and gamers as one of 2015’s summer hits. With an impressive selection of tracks and plenty of cars to choose from, all constructed meticulously to provide high visual fidelity, the game immediately looks worthy of a car fanatic’s time. For players less versed in the world of driving, adjustable ease of handling and AI skill make the experience approachable for more casual players as well. Fast forward a year, and the On Demand Pack introduced over a dozen additional tracks and cars to the game. With new cars ranging from hatchbacks to consumer sports cars to specialized super cars, and loads of mileage in the form of iconic real-world tracks and one fictional, the DLC could provide hours of game play to anyone looking for more of the Project CARS experience. But does its $30 price tag make sense?
The answer comes down to the choices Slightly Mad Studios made concerning the new content. On the track side, I think they’ve made some strong decisions. For example, at 15.76 miles, the Nurburgring Combined track offers a grueling new challenge for skilled drivers. Its long stretches make it conducive to races with more powerful cars, while its 87 turns make for difficult braking situations and tense overtakes. And while not a particularly difficult track, Ruapuna Park may be my favorite of the new series. Its few smooth turns and steady straights make overtakes frequent and race positions constantly in flux. Ruapuna Park and several others in the DLC are fun when raced with slower cars, which I prefer to the game’s beefier machines. The same goes for Rouen Les Essarts, which is a gorgeous and rigorous track, featuring a hill climb, hard-to-see turns and a brutal hairpin. Driving this track, opened in 1950, in the 1952 Mercedes-Benz 300SL (W194), has a remarkably bright, authentic, and vintage feeling – though it’s made all the more difficult by the 300SL’s skittish handling and propensity to break into slides at relatively high speeds. The classic Silverstone and Hockenheim tracks bolster an already fantastic roster of tracks, both being strong, flexible standards. Hockenheim in particular is simple enough to test a range of machines, while featuring a tight set of turns that challenges brake and turn speed. Overall, the tracks are phenomenal, and easily add at least $10 of value to Project CARS in my opinion.
The cars are a mixed bag. As I mentioned, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL (W194) is an interesting addition to the lineup, being a classic racing car with a charming rounded body design and spacious, bare-bones interior. It’s a horrible drive, though, extremely difficult to keep on the track even at its higher speeds. Against easy AI opponents, I and several other drivers slide on and off the track frequently, making each race behind its wheel more of a fight against the car than against other drivers. The modern Ruf RT 12R falls on the other side of the spectrum, adding to the list of cars in the game that are simply too powerful to be driven by anyone but very skilled players. It’s all-wheel drive and is stable in acceleration and turns, but braking is a severely challenging task for the 730hp beast.
One of my favorite additions is certainly the Aston Martin Vantage G12, which, to be frank, I was surprised not to see in the game’s initial lineup. This iconic machine blends power and sophistication, boasting 600hp and offering a smooth, snappy driving experience that’s pretty comfortable even at high speeds. For this car, thank you, Slightly Mad Studios.
Other cars include the 1970 Lotus Type 49C Cosworth, a beautiful speed machine that helped define Formula One cars, the prototype Radical RXC Turbo – a worthwhile addition for drivers interested in specialized racing – and a handful of consumer, sports and touring cars. For players like me, seeing the Audi A1 Quattro and the Scion FR-S appear made me smile, because I find “slower” races in Project CARS to be more fun and interesting than the others (they seem to involve less frustration, online and off) – particularly the Scion FR-S for its straightforward ease of use.
$30 is a problem, though. With Project CARS 2 on the horizon promising a huge track roster and a wide variety of motor sports, it’s clear that Slightly Mad Studios works hard and fast. While the On Demand Pack enhances Project CARS, it’s not a purchase I can recommend. I place its value at around $15: it offers hours of new gameplay, but the base game is sufficient without it – not to mention you’ll probably want that $30 in your hand when the second one comes out.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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