The original Project CARS and PC2 were both out-and-out sims and although they weren't without their faults, they were very enjoyable experiences.
How does Project CARS 3 stack up, though? PC3 brings a major change in the series' theme, but does it work out like Slightly Mad Studios would've hoped?
The intro to Project Cars 3 showcases some impressive visuals, but that isn't what you'll be witnessing through most of this game.
NIGHT TERROR: When the sun dips below the horizon, the graphics aren't the best in PC3
The day time races are fine, the car models and the environments are definitely good enough. What's disappointing though, are the night-time events.
The shadows and lighting just seem off in the dark. The interiors aren't very detailed either, as some cars look like they've been ripped out of a game from the previous generation.
Graphics are important, but they're far from the most important aspect to a racing game. It doesn't matter so much how the computer-controller cars look, if they're fun to compete against, you'll have a good time.
However, the AI you'll be racing against leave much to be desired. Sometimes they're fine, but there are a lot of inconsistencies when it comes to the AI.
POWERING THROUGH: The AI isn't what we've come to expect from Project CARS
The AI usually rocket off the starting line for a standing start, no matter what difficulty you're on. They're also very fast in a straight line but poor through the corner, in general.
Although, even the best games struggle with AI balancing, even F1 2020 has noted issues in that regard.
Just like in PC2 though, you can set the speed of the AI and also their aggression levels, which is very refreshing.
There are times though when the AI feels like it doesn't know you're there. What I mean by this is that they drive around the circuit and race each other, rather than you.
The customisation options in PC3 are a bit like marmite, you'll either love or hate them depending on your preferences.
You can change the specification of your tyres, brakes, air intakes, crankshafts and get better weight distribution and fuel injection.
This is done by choosing which type of items you want on the car, using a tier system. The cars also use a similar tier system to show which performance bracket they fall into.
SPANNER IN THE WORKS: Customisation is vastly different to Slightly Mad's previous games
According to Slightly Mad founder and CEO Ian Bell, Project CARS 3 would bring a change in the series' focus. That is definitely the case, as PC3 is closer to a NFS Shift 2 successor than a PC2 sequel.
Series like Need for Speed pride themselves on customisation, so this isn't what we should've expected to see.
However, if we give PC3 the benefit of the doubt, this is a simple and effective way to improve your car's performance. You could be a novice at racing games and understand how this works.
Good Garage & Circuit choices
The best quality of PC3 are its circuits and the amount of cars on offer. There are a lot of tracks available in PC3 and plenty of variations of those.
The tier system for cars is also used to seperate events, you can only enter cars which meet the performance class criteria for that competition.
PLETHORA: There's a lot to sink your teeth into in PC3
World class circuits like Silverstone, Monza and Suzuka are all in the game, albeit some of them not being licenced. There's also plenty of tracks that are made for Project CARS as well, which boost the numbers up.
Furthermore, you will find classic variations of the real-life tracks, such as Silverstone's 80's layout and Monza's old oval.
There's loads of different weather conditions to choose from as well, including snow, which is a real challenge.
The types of races on offer though are limited. There are only four types of events on offer and there's also the issue of you only being able to create a custom race.
There's no option to create a championship, pace setter nor hot lap competitions, which is a letdown.
Don't get me wrong, you can enjoy this game, especially if you're a more casual player. If you're expecting a Project CARS 2 sequel though, this probably isn't it.
However, there are a lot of things that can't be overlooked when it comes to Project CARS 3.
It is one of the better racing games for pad players out there right now, and the racing line assist is more of a learning tool to eventually wean you off it rather than something you'll use all the time.
The cars do feel different between classes, but with muted sounds and some of the graphics issues it can be hard to tell.
All in all PC3 is an arcade racer aimed at those that enjoy Forza Horizon or Need For Speed. If you wanted a challenger to Assetto Corsa Competizione on console then this just isn't it.
RealSport Rating: 3 Stars (out of 5)