NorCal Racing

‘Project Cars’ sequal signals new cars and racetracks — Sonoma State Star

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It’s hard to imagine yourself behind the wheel of an Indycar at the starting line of Sonoma Raceway, ready to race at 150 miles per hour. Yet thanks to today’s virtual reality technology, you can experience this as close to real as possible, without risking a trip to the hospital. The console game, “Project Cars 2,” released this fall by SlightlyMad Studios, gives modern day racing games a run for their money with it’s VR compatibility and stunningly realistic graphics. Truly, if users can get their hands on it, they will be shook to their core.

Giving users such a wide array of options proves “Project Cars 2” can give the ultimate racing experience. Whether you’re a car enthusiast or not, there’s plenty of ride options to choose from when starting a race in-game. From open wheel cars, to touring cars, vintage cars, road cars, and even go-karts, each vehicle comes with customizable options and in-game driving that is true to it’s real-life counterpart. Moreover, you can bring your ride of choice onto one of 130 tracks, many of which almost perfectly mimic famous real-life racing tracks, including local Sonoma Raceway, other tracks like Laguna Seca, and even California Highway 1.

What SlightlyMad Studios nailed down the best, however, was keeping relevant in today’s digital world. Once you buy the game, don’t expect that to be it in terms of content. Though the game just released earlier this season, there is already an expansion pack in the works, where users can drift through dirt in Rallycross cars; and numerous downloadable cars ranging from classics to concepts.

Most interestingly of all, though, is the fact that the game can be played with a virtual reality set. This is thrilling, and so realistic that it can be incredibly nauseating for first time users. The downside, however, is that to get the full driving experience, users must have access to a VR headset, which can cost an upwards of $800, and a compatible steering wheel and driver’s seat for their computer. This eliminates a vast majority of gamers as most do not have access to this kind of equipment.

Despite its limited access, the VR experience of “Project Cars 2” is like no other. Because each track is perfectly mimicked to their real life counterparts, everywhere you look will give you the feeling that you are truly on the track as a professional driver. The game even gives you an audience surrounding most tracks; consisting of some generic, yet excited to be there, non-player characters that ultimately give you the full racing experience. 

Starting the race, users must beware that shortly after they step on the gas pedal, the first couple turns on the track can be extremely dizzying for people susceptible to motion sickness. This is in part due to the fact that your brain thinks you’re moving at incredibly high speeds, but in fact you’re completely stationary. Thus, gamers must beware that their stomachs could be turned upside down within the first couple of races they simulate in VR.

The concept of driving in VR can be intriguing. Because it’s gaming experience is so realistic, and there are no dire consequences for breaking traffic laws, it could potentially be a great tool for training new drivers. While there are many pros and cons to this thought, it will be interesting to see if driving lesson programs will be incorporating virtual training in the future. 

As VR becomes more readily available and cheaper to consumers, it will be interesting to see how many parents put their children in front of games like “Project Cars 2.”

Overall, “Project Cars 2” sets the bar for racing games. With it’s impressive realism and compatibilities, there’s no doubt that gamers will become addicted as their adrenaline rushes them down the virtual tracks. It will be enthralling to witness what the future holds for this gaming series, and for the genre overall.

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