Additional photos courtesy of Bandai
Racing simulators have come along way since the '80s. Take Project Cars 2, the next evolution in Bandai's racing series; this new version covers the full spectrum of motorsports from GT, to touring, endurance and exotic hypercars. Additionally new vehicles have been added, which gives Project Cars 2 a total of over 170 licensed cars. Even the track roster is impressive, including tracks from all over the world, which all have dynamic time-of-day, weather, and seasonal race conditions integrated.
One very important feature of the game is its ability to track how players play. This is especially important when you want to race online and not get mixed up with players attempting to be the online drift king. The game will place you in rooms with others that play the game in a similar style. To see just how authentic Project Cars 2 is, Bandai invited us to Sonoma Raceway in Northern California to test drive a real-life McLaren on the track and then race the same car in Project Cars 2.
When we arrived at Sonoma Raceway, a variety of McLarens were parked waiting for us. After a quick briefing in a classroom of the do's and don'ts, myself and a few other journalists were split into two groups. One group had to tackle the slalom, while the other would be practicing left turns. The latter sounds easy enough, but the racing instructors were teaching us a proper racing line, which included braking, turning and accelerating properly after hitting the apex. The slalom was equally difficult. Steady acceleration and looking forward was key and we were encouraged to push ourselves and go faster each time. The McLaren 670S was significantly loud, and like the other McLarens, it handled like a dream. After the two exercises our next objective was the full Sonoma Raceway track. We had to keep up with the driving instructors and had to keep about one to two cars distance from each other. The technical track is a 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course and is riddled with blind corners and relentless elevation changes. As you can imagine the quarter-million dollar car had amazing acceleration, handling, and braking power. It made somebody with very limited track time, such as myself, look like a rock star.
By the time we got back, the visitor's center was set up with different ways to play Project Cars 2, including a PlayStation 4, a basic steering wheel mounted to a table, a simulator cockpit with a bucket seat, and the most baller VR full motion racing simulator you'll ever see. The VR simulator was also used to see who could put down the fastest lap time at Sonoma Raceway. Not going to lie, my glasses fogged up while racing and it truly felt like we were racing in thick fog, just saying.
There are many good racing simulators out there already, but Project Cars 2 still felt very impressive. What they didn't credit to themselves is the amazing sound quality coming from the cars. Trust us, you'll want to drive Mad Mike's RADBUL Gen. 2. You don't have to own a full motion-racing simulator to enjoy it either. It's just as fun on game console controllers. Of course in the video game you'll have massive steel balls to take a corner at 50mph more than you should, the difference being you don't have worry about crashing a quarter million-dollar exotic racecar; simply resort to the "restart race" button.