Despite the cars controlling like arcade racers from the likes of Test Drive or Need for Speed, the actual racing is fairly solid. And to countervail the arcade-style car handling is a series of license tests to push even the most avid racing sim fan to their limits. Much like Gran Turismo, the license tests are extremely difficult to achieve gold awards but definitely help players get familiarized with the various tracks and cars.
Now, even though the drifting is a little bit shoddy because of the unrealistic turning mechanics for the cars, the actual races happen to be very fun. There are a series of game modes available for both novices and experienced players, and the level separation is handled like any other MMO with rooms designated for racers of specific skill levels. The major difference is that lower-ranked players don’t have as much access to parts, cars, designs, upgrading or race tracks as higher level players. So usually players of lower levels must stick together and race while higher-ranked players can participate in more challenging events.
Speaking of events…Project Torque offers gamers an impressive array of playing options. Not only are there standard arcade racing modes, with options for laps, car damage and the amount of players who can participate in each race (up to 20, in case you were wondering), but there are also off-road racing options, derby car oval tracks, capture the flag games, an explorer mode, tournaments, and a simulation mode. For this game to be free to play all the modes play out like top-notch, triple-A worthy game modes.
As for the car damage, this is something even $60 racing titles don’t always get right, but it’s executed extremely well in Project Torque, allowing for players to bump and grind with the damage showing up on the appropriate car parts. Heck, under the right circumstances players can send opponents spiraling into the air like some teeny-bopper Fast and Furious stunt.