The Project Cars franchise has been around since 2015. The first release introduced us to a great racing simulation. It had similar qualities as Shift 2: Unleashed, Forza, and Gran Turismo. The second installment provided a better experience. It had tons of tuning opportunities that thrilled many driving enthusiasts.

Since Slightly Mad Studio has made a choice to shift into an arcade formula, Project Cars 3 (PC3) feels extremely depreciated. It is as if I am playing the stripped-down version of Race Driver: GRID. The game tries to reinvent itself with new mechanics, but the real action leaves much to be desired.

I know the developers are trying something new here, but I am not even sure if they want PC3 to be an arcade racer at all. In fairness, though, the game does a good job of capturing a casual-friendly racing atmosphere. So, if you are a Need for Speed fan, you’ll likely fit in.

The way things work in PC3 is that you need to complete a ton of objectives to qualify for higher-tier events. You’ll start with the typical road cars and work your way up to the hyper-cars.

The modification aspect (like tuning or doing decals) in Project Cars 3 is similar to Need for Speed and Gran Turismo games. It’s not deep, and there’s not much freedom to go with. Most of the time, you just pick from the available pre-sets.

The actual gameplay feels more like GRID. It’s grippy mixed with a decent amount of realism. It’s fun to perform drift at corners to overtake simple-minded AI.

The damage to the cars is largely cosmetic. The mechanical impairments have no bearing on the way you drive on the track. Most of the realism part refers to the spin-out when you hit the walls, removing stability control, turning off traction, and disabling steering assist.

Some of my frustrations with the game stem from long loading times and a lack of optimizations. Despite being able to fulfill all the system requirements, I still had to make adjustments just to have a chance of operating one functional race. The game would freeze and crash, which ruined any good mood I had left for that work day.

In the visual department, Project Cars 3 produces some of the glossiest colors! The cars look so much brighter and “chromy” that I want to get a new ride for myself. It’s got the best weather effects I’ve seen in a while!

The surface details of the track when it rains look so good, I thought I was going to hydroplane with my gaming chair. It also has a nice day-and-night transformation that shifts your driving vision toward the end of the race.

In the end, Project Cars 3 is a mediocre attempt at imitating the original GRID racing game. There’s nothing spectacular about it that would make me invest more hours. Even though it tries to be an arcade racer, I just don’t feel the burn or adrenaline like a typical Need for Speed game does.

Still, PC3 has an amazing visual presentation. If they can improve on the optimization and add more features via DLC, then maybe many more people will tune in to it. It’s a hard pass for me. Racing feels repetitive, and there are no co-op mechanics to enjoy with friends. For the same price you paid, you’re better off playing Forza or Need for Speed.