With the launch of Gran Turismo for the Sony Playstation in 1998, the console racing simulator was born. The GT franchise was an immediate hit with its unparalleled realism and driving dynamics. Players were given the option of driving with arcade ‘mash-and-go’ dynamics or playing a full-on racing simulator with the ability to fully tune your car’s suspension, braking, differential and more. Fifteen years and two console generations later, the GT franchise is still wildly popular in its sixth iteration on the PS3. Xbox owners, on the other hand, get their racing sim fix through the excellent Forza Motorsport series. Playing GT with my gearhead friends – building our dream cars and dueling it out on some of the world’s most famous tracks till the early morning hours – taught me a lot about cars, suspension tuning and racing lines.
When the PS4 was launched in 2013, Gran Turismo was nowhere to be found in the next-gen console’s lineup, much to my dismay. Meanwhile, Xbox fans received the brand-spanking-new Forza Motorsport 5. While PS4 owners have since seen titles like Driveclub, The Crew, and Need For Speed, none of them have come close to matching the GT franchise as far as console racing sims go.
Without Gran Turismo in Sony’s lineup, I had no reason to buy a Playstation 4, but when the first teaser for Project CARS, developed by Slightly Mad Studios was released last summer, I was told the upcoming game would be a next-gen 60-fps racing simulator. 30 seconds into the teaser, I was witness to a BMW E30 M3 in gorgeous touring car livery catching air at what looks like the ‘Ring. The bottom left corner read “actual gameplay content”. Hook. Line. Sinker. I was sold. I was buying a PS4. What followed in the minute-long teaser were more breathtaking sequences from some of the coolest cars known to the racing world, going door-to-door on some of the world’s coolest tracks.