Project CARS (Community Assisted Racing Simulator) is a simulation Racing Game developed by Slightly Mad Studios and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment in May 2015 on PC, Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (and once planned for Wii U before technical limitations halted it). Considered the Spiritual Successor to Need for Speed: Shift and Shift 2: Unleashed as they had worked on those two titles for Electronic Arts, mainly borrowing and refining mechanics from the previous two games along with introducing their own. The game also changes the pace in how races are conducted as now there are practice and qualifying sessions in which drivers set the fastest times around the track to get the pole position in the actual races along with a career mode in which the player partakes in races set on the calendar.
The game is well-known to be crowdfunded through a specially made platform called World of Mass Development, or WMD, which is quite similar to Kickstarter, where people can pledge various amounts of money for developing the game, and play each beta build that was progressively released; the more money is pledged, the more benefits one gets in the game. Project CARS started development in 2011, right after the release of Shift 2: Unleashed, with over a hundred builds made available for the pledgers, and was subsequently released in May 2015 (though it was originally meant to be released on 2014). A second installment, Project CARS 2, was released on September 22, 2017 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It includes all content seen on the predecessor, but also adds new tracks, new cars, a more in-depth time of day and weather system, improved driving models, and a more solid esports platform. It also introduces a new discipline, rallycross, with corresponding tracks and vehicles. A third game was officially announced on June 4, 2020 and is due a release on August 28 of the same year, weeks after the same studio published Fast & Furious Crossroads; changes from the second game include a car customization and upgrade system similar to the two Shift games, a revamped career mode and more accessible handling for gamepad users.
Also has nothing to do with project cars; The Alleged Cars that auto enthusiasts buy and restore.
Examples of tropes within Project CARS:
- Anti-Frustration Feature: You have the ability to turn on Steering assist, Braking assist, Traction Control and Anti-lock brakes, the later of two even on race-cars that wouldn't have them. The steering assist will however make you turn in a bit sooner than the fastest of racers, and the braking assist will start pre-braking point in case you overshoot. So it is worth learning how to race without them.
- Cool Car: A more diverse variety of them compared to Shift 2 which includes go-karts, road cars, touring cars, Formula One racers, Le Mans prototypes, Grand Touring 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, etc.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The four modes in the game, Career, Solo, Online, and Community, are represented by the colors red, green, yellow, and blue, respectively, being themed off of the game's logo itself. The achievements of the first game are even colored by which mode they're typically unlocked in (though green achievements can be won both in Solo Race and other modes as well).
- Creator Provincialism: Much like Gran Turismo focuses on Japanese cars and tracks, Forza focuses on American cars and Assetto Corsa on Italian cars, there's a good focus on British circuits and cars in Project CARS.
- Drives Like Crazy: Drive as fast and as hard as you want to but make sure not to go off the track or deliberately hit anyone if you actually want those lap times to count in qualification.
- Fun with Acronyms: Look back at the top of the page.
- Game of the Year Edition: The first game received one May 2016 containing all Downloadable Content alongside a bonus DLC containing the Pagani Huayra BC and the Pagani Zonda Revolucion. Said DLC was also available for the owners of the base game.
- Gameplay Automation: The rest of a session can be simulated after meeting certain requirements in the career mode or at anytime during a quick-race. The game also drives the car for you when entering/exiting the pit lane.
- Genre Shift: Project CARS 3 is a much more accessible game compared to its two predecessors, and can be best seen as more of an out-and-out Spiritual Successor to the two Shift titles than a simulator. This is not a surprise considering the development was assisted by Codemasters, who are better known for their GRID and DIRT series of games.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo:
- 4 of the Open-Wheel class vehicles are named Formula A (based on the 2013-spec Formula 1 race car), Formula B (based on the 2011-spec GP2 vehicle), Formula C (based on the 2011-spec GP3 car), and Formula Rookie (based on the 2013-spec Formula Ford car).
- Suzuka Circuit and the Monaco GP circuit get a Serial Numbers Filed Off treatment (Sakitto for the former, and Azur Circuit for the latter, after Cote D'Azur, the locale that Monaco is next to.)
- The Toyota Supra MkIV Racing in the Legends Pack DLC for Project CARS 3 features an Itasha livery with a character who bears a similar resemblance to Hatsune Miku, likely as a Shout-Out to the Goodsmile Racing team running in Super GT.
- Marathon Level: The first and second games makes races incredibly long to even start with long practice and qualification sessions depending on what you set it to. An average Career race at 100% time progression can take half-an-hour just for practice (then again that extra time can really help set up your car and pit strategy), a quarter hour for qualification and the main race being anywhere between ten and fifteen laps. Then you get to some of the specific endurance events such as the 3-Hour McLaren F1 Challenge that, even at 16% time progression or below, will still take half-an-hour. Then there's Endurance races that take up to twelve hours and then finally the 24 Hours of Le Mans that takes this trope Up to Eleven that puts you in a race for, well, twenty four hours.
- Mythology Gag: The Japan-only Perfect Edition comes with a DLC containing liveries based on Ridge Racer. Take note, this game was published by what was once Namco.
- Nintendo Hard: The go-karts, particularly if you are using a controller or keyboard. To understand, in real life, they have the acceleration of a Corvette, the turning radius of a shopping cart, and the braking on an IndyCar. With a steering ration of 4:1-8:1 (that is 4 degrees of steering wheel turn to turn the wheels 1 degree) they are easy to cut the tires and cut in too fast. In real life the lack of power-steering makes up for this. Which obviously you don't have. There is a reason karts are popular for training wannabe racers in real life. If you can be successful with a shifter-kart, you can race almost anything. The Stock car could also said to be hard on the rougher courses without TCS/ABS, thanks to their solid rear axle.
- Nitro Boost: Unlike the Shift games, Nitrous is absent in this series, but some cars such as the Formula A or McLaren P1 have what is known as a KERS (Kinetic-Energy-Recovery-System) that charges while braking (typically to a battery) and can be used to boost acceleration with limits being dependent on the vehicle used. The Formula A allows the KERS to be used for nine seconds per lap, the Formula B uses the charge all in one go per lap, the Le Mans prototypes and McLaren P1 use it automatically without input, etc.
- The McLaren P1 is different in that it's part of the car's hybrid design, the engine and braking is storing energy to the batteries for the motors that the car uses to boost acceleration, particularly where the engine might be behind such as turbo lag and gearshifts. This also pertains to the Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari LaFerrari hybrids added in the sequel. The biggest disadvantage is that the batteries drain faster than they can recharge, leaving you handicapped for the rest of the race once the electric motors run out of power.
- The V12 Formula X car 2 has a KERS with a much larger battery bank and there is no imposed limit to how much can be used.
- A KERS/Hybrid system is an equippable upgrade on the GT C, B, A and Open race cars in Project CARS 3. In theory, this means you can equip a boost system to a wide variety of race cars, from modern GT3 cars to even archaic race cars such as the F40 LM, BMW 2002 and Ford Escort Racing cars.
- One-Woman Wail: Present in the songs "Huayra", "Lux Aeterna", and "Spa 24 Hours".
- Original Character: A handful of LM Prototypes are specifically made for the game by its fanbase. These include the Marek and RWD cars.
- Removable Steering Wheel: A curious graphical option allows you to (visually) remove the wheel and driver hands in the first-person perspective, this is presumably for players using a steering wheel peripheral so they don't get double-vision from seeing both the real-life wheel and the in-game wheel. Another neat feature is that if said wheel contains displays on it then it will still show up, just stationary.
- Spiritual Successor: As mentioned throughout the page, Project CARS 1 and 2 are more simulation-oriented successors to the two Shift titles, as Slightly Mad worked on them before diving headfirst into this series. Project CARS 3 is a much more obvious successor to Shift with its emphasis on car customization, but it also takes a lot from Driveclub - namely in the handling model, soundtrack of choice, and career mode and multiplayer structure. This is justified, as various members of the now-defunct Evolution Studios have lent a hand in the game's development.
- Subsystem Damage: When enabled, your car can sustain various forms of internal damage such as gearing down too fast, (subsequently) over-revving the engine, grinding the gears (should you be using a wheel with a clutch pedal), overheating the brakes, wearing down the tires, etc.
- Tuckerization/Creator Cameo: Various AI racers are named after SMS staff, deliberately crashing into one will net you an achievement in the first game.