Back in May of 2015, Slightly Mad Studios released the culmination of five years of hard work. Project Cars arrived on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, delivering the most realistic simulation racer to date. Now though, the guys at Slightly Mad are back… and this time they are dropping the original Project Cars, bundled with all the content you could wish for, in a Game of the Year format.

12 months on from the original release, is this full fat version something that should continue to excite gamers? Or does the king of racing crown still fit neatly on the head of the Forza series?

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There is absolutely no debate that Project Cars is visually a stunner and I’d happily argue with anyone who wishes to disagree with me on that one. Each and every car looks great, both from the numerous internal cameras and those which showcase the exterior. That has however always been the case and whether you’re racing in the humble kart or taking on the challenge in some million pound speed machines, it looks fabulous. The inclusion of all the new content cars including the Great British Astons, some full on racing icons and the very best to have come out of Germany and Japan, just ensures the vehicle roster is near on unbeatable.

Nearly as important as the visuals is the stunning audio and it is something which sounds immense. In fact it sounds so good that I’m not sure there is a better reason for splashing some cash on a set of high quality cans so you can immerse yourself fully with everything Project Cars delivers to your ears.

With a huge variety of adjustments, tweaks and full on simulation settings available to mess around with, if you’re a bit of a racer, then you’ll find a ton of stuff to do in Project Cars. But hey, that was always the case and Slightly Mad were always more than willing to cater for the slightly geeky car enthusiast market.  

The circuits also look tremendous with each one extremely well detailed and quite possibly amongst some of the most realistic visuals we’ve ever seen in a videogame. From Brands Hatch, Imola and the frankly stunning Nordschleife, right up to the new circuits found in the likes of Mojave, anyone who is serious about their motor racing will quite easily be able to spot each and every bump, apex and full throttle straight like never before. It may have taken Slightly Mad five years to create (six if you include where we are now on the timeline), but I’d say it’s five years that have in no way been wasted.

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With numerous careers ready to engulf your life for months on end, single one shot races for the time pushed and a huge variety of community based challenges and time trials in place, then Project Cars doesn’t let anyone down with the variety found in the solo side of things. There is also a massive number of options open to those who prefer to take to the online tracks and if you’ve got a load of mates who are willing to do battle on the asphalt, then it more than delivers. If you don’t though, unfortunately old father time has ensured that as is the way with the vast majority of online titles, you’ll find some very quiet servers. In fact, it’s a whole world away from the consistently busy online options of one year ago. Manage to get involved in an online race though and it still delivers.

However, the best stuff only really comes in when you race with others over Xbox Live. Much of the reasoning for this will be because of the entire nature of Xbox Live being a breeding ground for enjoyment and challenge. Because you see, away from that and you’ll find that Project Cars is still a little um… boring.

The offline racing is never hard and fast, and I’m still not sure that the AI have the sharpest reactions on the grid. In fact, after playing around with numerous settings and AI behaviour options, I still can’t find that optimum point to bring the most exhilarating racing. Ultimately then, I’m consistently left a little deflated rather than pumping with adrenaline and that really shouldn’t be a feeling that is associated with a racer. Project Cars is also still quite obviously set up to be a PC game and that shows massively with the tiny awkward menus which are still a bugger to navigate round nicely. It is really not the most pleasant of console experiences and the calendar which houses the main career mode is pretty horrid to use.

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If you’re after a simulation based racer and are ready to forgo the chance of rubbing and racing in wheel to wheel battles, then Project Cars still delivers a damn good experience. It excels in the online modes, but should you be looking for an multiplayer racer in which you can go toe to toe with some of the best drivers around, then you’ll unfortunately find it lacking in players. Unless of course you can coerce a load of mates into a purchase as well.

That said, the sheer amount of new content that has been included quite happily balances the books with the lack of online racing action. Project Cars is therefore still one of the best racers you can experience…although it’ll most definitely appeal to the hardcore petrolheads first and foremost.

Whether this Game of the Year Edition warrants a full upgrade for those who find themselves still messing around with the original version or not though is up for debate.

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