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Slightly Mad Studios

Project CARS photo
Project CARS

Project CARS on Wii U earns a DNF, officially cancelled

Did not finish
Jul 21
// Brett Makedonski
While Slightly Mad Studios' Project CARS has been zooming past one million sales on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, it won't get off the starting line on Wii U. That had been the murmured whisper around town, but the studio has n...
Project CARS 2 photo
Project CARS 2

What is this, a race? Project CARS 2 announced

Slightly Mad promises continued support
Jun 22
// Jordan Devore
It was only last month that I read Brett's review of Project CARS, and now Slightly Mad Studios is out there talking up a sequel for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and SteamOS. Only thing that's missing is a call for pre-orders but, worr...
Project CARS photo
Project CARS

Project CARS races past 1M sales

PS4 is leading platform
Jun 05
// Brett Makedonski
If video game sales were racing speeds, Slightly Mad Studios would be pleased with the lap times of Project CARS. After just a month since release, the hardcore-simulation racer has sped past one million sales. Not shabby at ...
Project CARS review photo
Project CARS review

Where is our Project CARS review?

Dragging a bit
May 06
// Brett Makedonski
Project CARS is at the starting line raring to go, but before the green flag waves, some people would like to offer their analyses. We won't be one of them. The game's review embargo just lifted, but we'll be laggin...

Review: Project CARS

May 01 // Brett Makedonski
Project CARS (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developers: Slightly Mad StudiosPublisher: Bandai NamcoReleased: May 6, 2015 (PC), May 12 (PS4, Xbox One)Price: $59.99 Even though Project CARS is difficult, it's all rather appropriate. I've never raced cars before, but I imagine it to be an unrelentingly tough gig. There are a dozen or so drivers that are all after the same checkered flag. Slightly Mad has done a fantastic job crafting a racing experience that reflects real-life competition. Whereas other games often feel like races take place around the player, Project CARS feels like the player is one small part of the race. However, in the heat of the moment, one could be forgiven if they don't agree with that. Project CARS' AI can be so aggressive at times that it seems as if the game is trying to pound the player into submission. Opponents will veer across the track to block progress, and they'll occasionally send you skidding into the gravel trap. Sure, it's an accurate portrayal of racing, but, man, that comes as no consolation at all when it dooms the entire race. The AI isn't the only opponent in Project CARS; you're a constant threat to cause your own downfall. In the rare event that you break free from the pack, the most minute of miscalculated turns will send you straight to the back. One tire overstepping the bounds of the track will often send the car skidding off into a pile of tires, relegating you to an unimpressive finish. Also, this title doesn't play the rubberbanding game, so once the leaders have created separation, you're likely to stay off the podium. Again, frustrating, but that's what you signed up for when you booted up Project CARS. [embed]291507:58427:0[/embed] All that annoyance isn't aided by the fact that Project CARS starts the career with the lowest levels of kart racing, which just so happen to be the most uncontrollable vehicles in the game. It's almost like a trial by fire of sorts, a challenge from Slightly Mad that if you can command these unwieldy beasts, you're good enough to play this game. I was handily defeated so consistently during these races that I wondered if tweaking vehicle settings was an absolute necessity to success. That's where Project CARS' commitment to being for hardcore simulation fans became actively detrimental. Before each race, the menu will implore the player to make alterations, but offers little in the way of guidance as to what anything does. Those who know the ins and outs of cars may take great pleasure in adjusting camber angles and changing suspension heights, but the layman will be left wondering if they're actively at a disadvantage. Honestly, they probably are. Regardless of where all those sliders end up, Slightly Mad has some great driving to offer. The cars all have an appropriate weight about them, only seeming floaty when they're the lightest of vehicles. Project CARS also mandates a nice degree of subtlety with the throttle and brake, often requiring barely touching the gas to optimally weave through a set of turns. The most appreciated facet of driving is that most of the 70-some vehicles feel legitimately unique from one another, meaning that each takes some time behind the wheel before you can control it efficiently. That learning curve won't be welcomed by everyone, however. A lot of nuance is needed, and it's difficult to master. This is especially true with a standard gamepad, which is how the majority of people will play Project CARS. These controllers are often too finicky, and will send the car careening further and more slapdash than the player intended. Those with proper racing wheels will surely have an easier time. One aspect of Project CARS that never fails to impress is its aesthetic. Everything is stunningly gorgeous at all times, even when the sun blinds you as you're trying to corner. The scenery might be at its best during the rainfall, which looks fantastic, but adds another degree of difficulty as the slick roads definitely impact driving performance. Unfortunately, it also impacts game performance, as rainy weather acts as a kind of stress test, and it's where the frame rate dipped the most noticeably in the Xbox One version of the game. For a title that touts itself as offering a staggering amount of control, Project CARS is ironically rather shallow. While all cars are unlocked right from the get-go, the player has no say in what they drive throughout the career. Once signed up for a new league in which to compete, the game decides what vehicle the races take place in. Likewise, outside of the standard career progression, there just isn't much more to do in Project CARS. It basically boils down to the obligatory multiplayer, some community events, and some one-player quickmatches. The game doesn't give the player much incentive to keep playing, so that drive has to be internal. If it isn't, you might find yourself putting down Project CARS sooner than you'd think. Actually, Project CARS' career is paced in such a way that it directly conflicts with the desire to keep playing. Every race is preceded by a practice and qualifying round. Each of those lasts a minimum of ten minutes. You can probably afford to skip practice (easy, Allen Iverson), but qualifying is borderline mandatory. Bypassing it, or simulating to the end after a solid lap, means you run the very real risk of starting the race in last place. If that happens, it's unlikely that you'll finish first. The AI is just too good to let you overcome those odds. You were probably damned before you even began. Admittedly, Project CARS isn't for everyone. In fact, it isn't for most people. It's niche, and it's for those who take their racing games seriously. It does most of what it sets out to do, and it does that very well. However, the broad appeal is lacking, as the long learning curve likely outweighs what most are willing to put up with. But, for those who put in the time and manage to take the checkered flag, this title has a supremely rewarding experience that most anyone can feel proud of, regardless of familiarity with cars.
Project CARS review photo
Hard charger
Project CARS is a game that revels in its inaccessibility. It was made specifically for people who have come to expect more from their realistic racing simulators. Developer Slightly Mad took that desire and ran with it....


Projects Cars finally releasing in Europe next month

Fingers crossed
Apr 16
// Vikki Blake
Project Cars will finally be released on May 7 in Europe and May 8 in the UK.  The racing game has suffered a lengthy string of delays since its original scheduled release last November, with pushbacks to March, then Apr...
Project Cars photo
Project Cars

Is this real life? New Project Cars trailer looks the part

Don't stare
Apr 23
// Jordan Devore
Slightly Mad Studios has put out a new trailer for Project Cars, a racing sim with graphics so good the studio felt it necessary to include a little "All footage shown is taken from in-game" disclaimer. (I genuinely love it ...

World of Speed: A free-to-play online racing MMO

Feb 10 // Dale North
World of Speed (PC)Developer: Slightly Mad StudiosPublisher: My.ComRelease date: 2014MSRP: Free-to-play Creative director Andy Tudor was a driving force behind Need for Speed: Shift and Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed at London-based Slightly Mad Studios, and more recently has been working on the upcoming next-gen Project CARS there, but he and his team have also been quietly working on a massively multiplayer online racing game for PC. Their hope was to create something that would be on par with home console racers, but with truly competitive online play, as well as continual content updates like you'd find in any good MMO. The inspiration from other games has been applied to the competitive racing aspect of World of Speed to solve a couple of problems that all online racers seem to have. Tudor explained that crashing out on the first corner will usually put a racer out for the rest of the race, with no real chance to catch up. In these cases your only reward is usually car damage and bad lap times, and only those with podium finishes get rewarded. So they applied what they learned from the Shift games to create Driver Score 2.0. The idea is to have "micro actions" in the game that will, once completed, let any racer earn points toward their progress, regardless of race position. Tudor explained that you may have wiped out and are now at the back of the pack, but you can still do things like drift or find shortcuts to earn points, and these actions can be chained to perform combos. [embed]270259:52506:0[/embed] A badge system builds on this, giving the player smaller opportunities to win at something constantly. Badges are like achievements as they unlock as you continue to play. They range from basic tasks, like hitting mileage landmarks, to what Tudor calls "fiendish things." The idea here is to get to a place where it feels like the game isn't instantly over from an early crash. "No more rage quits," Tudor joked. Some inspiration from shooters helped solve another big racing problem. Tudor said that they found in the Need for Speed: Shift games that players rarely worked together, and that each player was really only out to win for themselves, with almost no communication taking place. In World of Speed, teammates and friends have to cooperate to achieve goals in mandatory events. Imagine a situation where tougher cars would protect a faster car that was out to get the best times, like a tank would protect another in a RPG. Other cars out to find shortcuts are kind of like rangers, and drafters are kind of like... well, I'm not sure. But you can kind of see what they're getting at. With no given examples in the presentation or hands-on session, this seems more like a good idea at this point. World of Speed centers around team-based play to encourage cooperation. Race clubs fight for control of an in-game location against other clubs. The idea is to own a given track. If this is accomplished, every racer that races on that track will see your club name and logo. Owning that location unlocks a clubhouse, a fully 3D social area for members to hang out. They'll also be able to earn club-only game modes. One, called Territory Wars, has clubs going beyond their first owned location, working to recruit and organize other players to take more locations to achieve world domination. These locations are based on real-world tracks and cities. I took a car around a few of these, including a London city race and the famous Brands Hatch course. Beyond these, we know that Monaco, Moscow (in the snow!), and Laguna Seca are in the works, as well as many others. Both of the tracks I raced looked very nice, running on what I'm sure were some pretty high spec'd gaming PCs. For the London course in particular, the level of detail was extremely high. Tudor explained that their design team lived in each location for weeks, gathering visual references to make each as authentic as possible. To my eyes, with its high level of detail in both the tracks and the cars, World of Speed looks more like a racing sim than an arcade-style racer. The team members at Slightly Mad seemed surprised to hear me say this. I saw a touch of something that reminds me of Project Gotham Racing, but the overall look is cleaner and more realistic. Think Gran Turismo turned up a few notches. It looks nice, but I think it also looks a little stiff and maybe too tidy for something that is geared to be so approachable. But then again, the next-gen quality visuals will please any eye, so this could be less of an issue for others. The look had me going in for my first hands-on expecting for World of Speed to feel like a racing sim. I think the game's feel is at odds with its looks. Slightly Mad stresses that they're still in a pre-alpha state, so it's hard to make a call this early, but World of Speed's feel is much more stiff and unforgiving than I first expected it would be. At this point, cornering feels stripped thin, a fry cry from the new console racers that hit the market a few months back. Braking feels downright off at this point, with stops feeling more like a constant slope, and lacking any sense of weight or physics. Between the rough steering and odd braking, getting around the track collision-free was quite a challenge, even for this seasoned racing game fan. I ate a lot of walls for the tighter turns, and found myself unintentionally smashing into both teammates and opponents in all races, trying the game with both gamepad and steering wheel controls. I fared even worse with the keyboard racing controls. Figuring that most of my peers seemed to be having similar issues in multiplayer sessions, our hands-on session looked more like a bumper cars match. An inordinate amount of on-track debris flying around made things even more frustrating. I only had a few uninterrupted opportunities to break away from the pack and get a feel for things. There's promise to be sure, but it was hard to get over how difficult of a time I was having with steering and braking. But, again, World of Speed is still really early. One mode we tested had every team member working to earn the most experience points during the race. I liked that there were many ways to do this, from the standard podium placement to overtaking, or finding shortcuts. There were plenty of opportunities for players to kind of divide up and fall into a position where they were most comfortable. Those that had a better feel for the engine could try to place, while others that wanted to be antagonistic could ram enemies into walls. Even drifting could be used to earn experience. It's too bad that the hand brake didn't seem to do anything in this play test. We don't have a car list yet, but we were told to expect "all manner of cars," from your standard street cars to the top super cars, like Ferrari, Aston Marton, Lamborghini, high-end Mercedes Benz, and others. Players will house their cars in their own custom garage, and will be able to visit it at any time to enjoy their collection of eye candy. Like an MMO from any other genre, Slightly Mad plans to update World of Speed often. New tracks and cars will regularly come down the line, as will new gameplay modes. A quick tease during a presentation listed what looked to be dozens of these upcoming modes. My eye caught several: Cat and Mouse, Freeway Pursuit, Destruction Derby, Movie Cars, Dirt and Dune, Emergency Response, and more. From the names alone these all sound like a lot of fun. Again, World of Speed will be a free-to-play PC download title, set to launch this year. Slightly Mad isn't saying much about how they'll handle the fine details when it comes to monetization, but it does sound like they're fully against a pay-to-win situation, and that car customization could be a focus for their plan. World of Speed certainly looks great already, and I'm all for Slightly Mad's strong ideas that work toward encouraging cooperative play, but it's still way to early to make a call on the actual gameplay itself. I don't think that pulling it out will be a problem for the team behind so many quality racing games. If they can get this together, World of Speed sounds like it could be a really good time for people who love cars and competition.
World of Speed photo
From the makers of Need for Speed: Shift
World of Speed is a racing MMO that sets to accomplish a goal that no other racer has been truly successful with so far: making racers cooperate with each other. Slightly Mad Studios has 10 years in the racing game busin...

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