Project CARS GO takes the driving out of the driving sim

It sure does look good though

If there is one genre that has been all but perfected for mobile gaming, it’s the racing sim. Gameloft’s Asphalt series has been killing it since it jumped to iOS in 2009, and even if its monetization systems get more aggressive with each release, the actual racing in those games is second to none in the mobile sphere. They’re just legitimately fun and have created the perfect template for other racing games to mimic. 

Project CARS GO, the recently released mobile spin-off of the Slightly Mad Studios racing series, goes in a different direction. Its focus is not on how well you can control your car around the small selection of tracks you’ll repeatedly race, but how well you can time your taps of the screen, kind of like a rhythm game that’s not set to any music.

If you’ve played Forza Street, you’ll have a good idea of how Project CARS GO works. You don’t need to worry about steering or even pressing a gas pedal. You only need to watch the action on screen and tap or touch accordingly. At the start of each race, you’ll tap the screen to rev up your engine. Once you get the green light, all you need to do is be aware of the three different arches you’ll pass through. For the shift arch, you’ll tap to shift to a higher gear. For the brake and gas arches, all you hold your finger to the screen and lift it accordingly. Project CARS GO also has some drag races in the mix that add an extra instance of tappa tappa tapping your phone before a race.

That’s it. That’s the whole shebang because, truthfully, Project CARS GO doesn’t really care about being a good racing game. I mean, you’re really not even really racing the other cars on screen. They’re just there for show. The only thing that matters is beating to clock to get a three-star ranking for each race. The better you time your taps and touches, the better you’ll do. Theoretically, at least, as you can have a perfect run and still fail to make even a two-star finish because you haven’t souped-up your car enough.

That’s where the real meat of Project CARS GO lies. Forget racing. This game is about collecting cars and tricking them out. And of course, that means loot boxes, multiple currencies, and tapping your way through a bunch of menus to upgrade your rides. You can raise the ranking of each car’s top speed, acceleration, cornering, and shifting. For whatever fucking reason, there are timers attached to these elements you’ll have to sit through for the upgrade to happen. There are also mods you can apply to your cars to help them perform better. You actually have to play for a bit before those are available and I can see people deleting this off their phones before even getting close to unlocking that feature.

To its credit, this is a beautiful game with strikingly rendered vehicles. But so is just about every other racing game on mobile these days, and some of those actually feel like racing games. I will say, while there is very little I find engaging about this game, the simplicity of it makes it an ideal app for when sitting on the toilet. So consider that your back-of-the-box quote: Project CARS GO is perfect for poop time.

CJ Andriessen
Just what the internet needs: yet another white guy writing about video games.