Project CARS 3 Review – Shifting to Arcade

Developer Slightly mad Studios has unleashed their latest title upon the world: Project CARS 3 is here. Is the game ready for the track or did it get lost in the pits?


Read on to find out

The Project CARS series first made an appearance back in 2015 and was a well received racing simulator. Developer Slightly mad Studios had already made a name for themselves by creating the Need for Speed: Shift series and a Ferrari based racing game. While the Project CARS series was originally a racing simulator, the Shift series was more of an arcade racer. Project CARS 3 is looking to give gamers the best of both worlds and is said to be the spiritual successor to Need for Speed: Shift.

Sim or Arcade? Your Choice

There are generally two different types of racing video games. You have arcade racers like the original Need for Speed series and you have simulators like Gran Turismo, Assetto Corsa, or the original Project CARS title. Arcade racers are generally easier to drive with less emphasis on vehicular physics and more emphasis on fun for everyone while simulators try to get the physics down pat, and cater to a more specific audience. Much like Need for Speed: Shift, Project CARS 3 aims to do both by giving you options to either let the AI take care of a good bit of braking and steering or by giving you full control.

For those new to racing, the Beginner setting is almost autopilot, but does require the driver to at least try to drive around the track. It uses steering assists, braking assists, handling assists, stability control, and traction control to guide you around the course, with a track guide system that lets you know where you need to slow down and where to aim your car. On the other end of the spectrum is the Professional setting and it gives you no help at all, making the game feel more like a simulator, but not so much as how the previous Project CARS games did. If you were hoping for another great racing simulator within the Project CARS series, this isn’t it, although it is a great arcade racer.

Career Mode

Your career in Project CARS 3 will have you building up your garage based on what you need for upcoming racing events, and then modifying and upgrading those cars as needed. Racing classes go from the lowest Road E, up to the highest Road A, and then onto the Hyper Cars and GT Classes. You can purchase a basic Road E car and upgrade different aspects of it to take it up to the next class, and you can even swap out a lower rated parts if you want to return to a lower class event. The garage system is nicely done and allows for you to use the same car through a wider variety of classes, which in turn ranks that specific model up and gives discounts on parts. You can also edit your paint schemes, add stickers, swap out the tires and wheels, and really make the car your own.

During your career there are four types of events you’ll be competing in, each with three objectives to achieve. You have your standard race event, a hot lap event where it’s just you, your car and the track, a Pace Setter event, and a Breakout event. The Pace Setter event will have you racing around a track for three laps, trying to achieve a consistent lap time within a certain range. Three laps, with your average lap time being a combination of the three divided by three. One mistake and your average can take a major hit. The Breakout event has the track covered in numbered targets that you’ll need to smash through in order to achieve a high score. In breakout, using the track itself is optional as some targets are not on the pavement.

Wheel or No Wheel?

For racing simulators like the original Project CARS or Assetto Corsa, having a wheel and pedal system can help in the overall control of the car on the more difficult settings. We have a Thrustmaster T-150 and 3 pedal system coupled with an add-on shifter that we like to use for our sim racing, and to be honest, even on the hardest settings we didn’t need it. Our Dualshock 4 gave us more than enough control. We did break it out and try it, and it worked well, but we had close to the same results with the controller, and opted to just use it all the time.

The Cars and Tracks

For the career mode, you’ll have to earn enough credits to purchase cars to use, but lucky for us, you can run a custom event anytime from the main menu using any car in the game. With over 200 cars to choose from, and 49 track locations to race at, you can do a lot of racing at some famous tracks. Of the 49 locations, some of the tracks have multiple layouts so there are actually 122 different tracks to race. These are all playable online from the get go, so you can invite your buddies online to go head to head in a custom lobby. Online racing also features the quick race option or you can pre-register for an upcoming race.


Fans of the Project CARS series might feel disappointed or confused when they first start playing Project CARS 3, and you can’t blame them. The game is different than past Project CARS games as it focuses heavily on arcade racing and not so much on sim racing. If they give the game a chance, though, they’ll be glad they did as the game overcomes the initial arcadish feel and almost makes it to sim land on the Professional settings.



Project CARS 3 review code provided by publisher and reviewed on a PS4 Pro using Thrustmaster peripherals. For more information on scoring, please read What our review scores really mean.