'Project Cars 3' trailer has some sim racing fans worried

It wants to bring new people into racing sims.

Project Cars 3 (Simply Mad Studios)

The folks at Simply Mad Studios have released a short preview for their first Project Cars game under new ownership with Codemasters, and the response from fans has been a bit uneven. The nearly two-minute video looks sharp and smooth of course, with all the high-end production and race cars fans could hope to drive.

However, there are some elements about Project Cars 3 that suggest its physics model may take a turn for something less punishingly-realistic and tilt the needle closer to games like Forza or, as some commenters suggested, even Need for Speed. About 40 seconds in an Acura NSX taps a Mercedes from behind, spinning it out without any visible damage appearing on either car. It could be the editing or just that the game isn’t done yet —intense crash effects and authentic car-contact is listed a feature — but that kind of smash and go action isn’t exactly what fans of the series show up for. Also, at a time when more people have been watching esports racing than ever, the game’s realism will be an important selling point if it’s featured in racing series.

Another bit that set fans off is what developers said in an interview with GamesRadar, about their attempts to make the sim game available to a wider audience. Simply Mad Studios CEO Ian Bell has pushed back against that impression, telling gamers that it’s “Same base physics upgraded, and consolidated.”

The video does show an impressive number of cars on the track and up-to-date looking lighting effects, especially for a game targeting the current generation of consoles. Plus, many of the game’s highlight new features won’t show up in the trailer, like vehicles that are more customizable than ever, enhanced AI, a rebuilt career mode and, on PC, support for VR as well as rendering in resolutions as high as 12K. In multiplayer, it’s added skill-based matchmaking, rivals time challenges, and the ability to borrow a car fit for a particular race if you don’t have one in your garage already. All you can do now is judge the trailer for yourself, until Project Cars 3 ships this summer.