Project CARS: “Staged” Screenshots vs Actual Gameplay; Here’s How The Game Really Looks

The visuals of Slightly Mad Studios’ Project CARS have been discussed a lot because seeing screenshots of actual gameplay is pretty rare. With “actual gameplay” I don’t mean that the screenshots we’re normally shown aren’t taken in game, but simply that they display complex camera work which is much different from what we’d see while driving.

That’s why today we’re going to show you how the game really looks on PC in Ultra settings, comparing staged screenshots taken by adjusting the camera to put the cars under the “best light” with exactly the same situation shown by the normal chase camera you’d see while driving (if you like external views, of course).

This is not to say that the game doesn’t look great. It looks awesome, especially considering it’s still a beta six months from release, and the cars are extremely sweet looking and painstakingly detailed.

It’s important to mention that even the “staged” screenshots use no visual tricks. They’re not what one would call “bullshots.” There’s no supers-ampling, no increased polycount or better anti-aliasing or textures compared to actual gameplay. We simply moved the camera around in a more flattering position, and that’s something that can be done in game with no additional tools. As a matter of fact you’d be even able to drive around like that, but course you wouldn’t see where you’d be going.

Obviously, you can (and should) click on each screenshot to see a full resolution version, and you should remember that we’re looking at a beta, so things are probably going to improve further, especially for what the environments are concerned.

ProjectCARS (1) ProjectCARS (2)

ProjectCARS (3) ProjectCARS (4)

ProjectCARS (5) ProjectCARS (6)

ProjectCARS (7) ProjectCARS (8)

ProjectCARS (9) ProjectCARS (10)

ProjectCARS (11) ProjectCARS (12)

ProjectCARS (13) ProjectCARS (14)

ProjectCARS (15) ProjectCARS (16)

As you can see the game looks very pretty even in under normal camera conditions, but not quite as spectacular as it does with the right camera angles. That’s actually quite normal, and that’s why most trailers of basically every game are shot with an unlocked camera. Everything (not just cars) looks better under the right conditions.

That said, it’s impressive to see how much detail Slightly Mad Studios managed to pack into each and every one of these cars  (and there are several tens more, each of them with a large amount of different liveries), and it’ll be interesting to see just how far they’ll manage to push the game before release.

Join the Discussion

  • Jeff Maxwell

    what platform is that on?

  • JonJJon

    Looks very nice, I need to do more reading about this game and find out the racing wheel compatibility on PS4. I am looking forward to Drive Club for a bit of fun (hoping my wheel is compatible) so with this being a good looking sim racer to get hold of (my faith in Gran Turismo dramatically slashed after my experience with GT6) I hope the Thrustmaster F430 FFB will get supported 🙂

    • chrisredfield31

      I cleared GT6 and had a lot of fun with it. That said, I think all racers have problems with them. What I learned is that the best thing is to play all of them and that way you get to have fun with the widest variety of cars and playstyles. GT6 will always be supreme when it comes to driving experience but it seems they always let the licenses for the super/hypercars go.

  • SickSilvo

    I’m glad finally someone decided to show this to others, every time I tried to tell people about this it resulted in downvoting or banning me..

    • Amith Thomas

      Why are people so dumb lol ? (I kid :P)
      I’m looking at these screenshots, comparing them with the officially released ones and saying “What’s the difference ?” Ofcourse, you see more material and texture from a certain angle, and ofcourse you won’t see the low poly tree when there is motion blur and the camera is further away. The lighting looks just as good, the textures look just as good, the shaders look just as good.

      All I’m seeing in the ‘normal’ shots are less dramatic scenes, thats all. I can see the carbon fibre texture in one and not in the other, some depth of field in one and not in the other.
      I’m ‘smart’ enough to understand, however, that this is because of the way the scene is setup ! I really don’t understand what’s difficult to grasp about that. That goes for everything, even real life photography. If I’m taking a screenshot, I will want the most awesome shot I can get ! So I’ll move the camera around until I do get that perfect lighting, that perfect composition, and take the shot !

      I don’t understand – just about every one of those shots looks amazing. How is that a downgrade lol. Sensible gamers (I’d like to think that includes me) know that gameplay videos are where you can really guage a game’s visuals. Have you seen the gameplay videos ? They’re amazing. Doesn’t seem to be downgraded at all from the screens SMS put out.
      Ofcourse screenshots will be screenshots, that goes for just about every game. I don’t get why they have to say “You know, if you actually move the camera to a less flattering position, it doesn’t look quite as good” – that’s some amazing detective work right there.

      Ofcourse you could get a less flattering angle, that’s the whole point of taking a screenshot – it’s like taking a photograph. In real life, the ‘visuals’ are impeccable, but why would I take a photograph where the lighting and arrangement are subpar ? That would still make the photo look subpar, no matter how well the lighting and material is actually simulated (real life being real life)
      In every one of these ‘normal’ screenshots, I can see that everything still looks right. The reflections work. The shadows are brilliant, the road reflects the sky realisitically where it’s not under direct sunlight.
      What this article is basically saying is if you change the camera, you won’t get the same dramatic, smoldering shot. Um, yeah, that prettymuch goes for… I don’t know… everything ?

      This article is kind of stupid in that regard. Or I don’t know, maybe it is necessary because of the way some people treat the screenshots ? Still, you know I could say exactly the same thing about The Order 1866 right ? I could pick a very well positioned screenshot and say “I can actually move the camera to a less flattering position, and the scene won’t look quite as amazing, you’ll also see that low poly brick over there.” Obviously, you’d find that quite stupid, because you know that the game still has brilliant simulation and looks fantastic anyway. See what I’m saying ?

      • Amith Thomas

        Oh, and also, I find many of these screenshots better than the latest batch of officially released pictures (Grand touring cars)

        Wow is this article stupid 😛

      • Giuseppe Nelva

        It’s necessary because people are overestimating the game’s looks (which are great, mind you) because all they’re seeing are staged screenshots. I believe setting realistic expectations is better for everyone, including for the game’s future success.

        • Suliman العمر

          I played the Alpha more than a year ago and it looks simply FANTASTIC. I can’t wait to re-download the client and hookup my G27 with my eyefinity display and see how far it got.

      • The Wolf 47

        Damn, it doesn’t look as good as the previously images on previous articles.
        Oh well, I’m still getting both Driveclub and Project Cars.

        • AlexFirth91

          Thanks, I believe everyone should support both. The games looks great, and both Devs worked hard.

    • Sexy Mcgee

      Agree, I always felt there was a disconnect between what the developer showed and what the actual gameplay looks like. This article tries to mitigate the fact but the reality is that even under the “flattering” camera angles the game looks FAR worse than what the developer has shown. Driveclub level visuals these are not.

  • Spudsy

    was lucky enough to play this on a really high end 4k rig at a Panasonic event earlier on this week and to be honest graphic and game play wise it was.. meh, ok i suppose.
    Seemed like there was still aaaaaaaalot of work to do. smoke trails looked dodgy backgrounds were very sparse and not very detailed car roll and movement was ok but nothing fantastic. i only managed to play on 1 course and in only 2 different vehicles so maybe the rest of the game is ok, who knows.

  • kelin johnson

    i hope theres camaros mustangs chargers challengers and all other muscle cars cause im not a big fan of imports and buggati


    LOL…I remember the same with GT5. No one bothered….SDF is so desperate to protect PS4…

    • Sucka Free

      PS4 doesn’t need any protection

    • Negi Springfield

      LOL ! Go away Mister X Media , We don`t need your delusions here , Go tell your Xbox One Secret Sauce , Hidden CPU / GPU and Cloud Somewhere else 🙂

      • Jeff Maxwell

        you do know misterxmedia is xtremederp dont ya he’s a psycho and it must be.. Nut case

        • Negi Springfield

          Oh you mean @xtremederp:disqus ? or were you referring to Mister X as an Xtreme Derp lunatic ?

          • Jeff Maxwell

            saying its prolly xtreme derp cus there both nut jobs in what they speak!!! haha

        • Xtreme Derp

          It’s true.

    • Xtreme Derp

      Is that really you, misterxmedia? I’m like your biggest fan.

      • Jeff Maxwell

        so have you realized ps4 isn’t everything you hoped for??? I’ve not seen real ps4 footage and not many ppl ave but the ppl played it not impressed…do you want us to screen capture 1080p for ya??? I an send ya some proper 1080p if ya want…. Btw am trolling slightly but for x1 plants vs zombies rex watch dogs no excuse at this rez

        • Xtreme Derp

          PS4 is doing what I’d expect for a 1.84TF PC GPU.

          PvZ and Peggle 2 are timed exclusive, coming to PS4 eventually.

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      You do understand that this is PC, and the game is going to be on Xbox One too, right? 😀

      Oh, right. You don’t 😀

      • Xtreme Derp

        Watch out, if you make fun of misterxmedia he’ll write something mean about you on his blog. lol

        • Giuseppe Nelva

          Like it’d be the first time. And like I’d care 😀

        • Jeff Maxwell

          oi deep dont create a misterxmedia name to further you bull$hit agenda. IE, Firefox, chrome etc etc can all old cookies to post on difdrent profiles so winners

    • Jecht_Sin

      Oh God. Are you really misterXmedia, the infamous Xbot I heard around? How’s the lobotomy going? ^_^

      • Xtreme Derp

        A lobotomy would be an improvement for him.

    • Budgiecat

      Girls must laugh when they see your little russian Xboner. LOL

    • incendy is dumbass

      you are not mr x you are mr ass hole

    • Mike G.

      How does it feel getting slapped around all across the internet for being stupid?

      I’ve never known this feeling and was wondering what it was like.

    • DemonFenton

      Bored of your Xbox One already eh?

    • ImonadrugcalledCharlieSheen

      Not sure what these PC screenshots have to do with PS4 but you seem to be working through some anger issues I guess so let it out.

    • You are flat out wrong

      LMAO Russian spaz misterxmedia still doing damage control for his gimped console.

      Project Cars and Drive Clubs destroys every turd on the Xbone and DX12 won’t save it. Loser!

    • Guest

  • Amith Thomas

    So what you’re basically saying is “If you don’t take shots that are quite as dramatic and flattering, then what happens is you don’t actually get scenes that look quite as dramatic and awesome”

    Absolute genius, I tell you. Fantastic work, detective.
    Go take a look at the official screenshots and compare these. Anyone with the least bit of sense would see that the graphics are the same. Only, the official screenshots are more dramatic and well positioned , to show off certain things, that’s all.

    watching gameplay videos quite often , and still don’t see a downgrade from the official screens, because I’m applying some common sense ofcourse.

    Clearly, gamers in general have no sense, and when they see carbon fibre texture and depth of field on one shot and none of that in another shot because of camera positioning, they will be tricked ! How would they know ? right ?

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      No, what I’m basically saying is “here’s how the game looks when you’re actually playing it and not just looking at the pretty pictures.”

      I believe it’s not hard to understand, but of course writing a rather snarky comment that completely misses the point (no one talked about “downgrades” in the article) is easier 😀

      • ModernTimes2

        With this article you only manage to feed the delusions of those idiots crying “bullshots”. Hint: those very same people seldom have good reading comprehension, they won’t understand your article, and showing them a well composed dramatic shot vs. a random behind-the-car shot is only going to have them thinking that they’ve somehow learnt something clever to support their bullshit and hunger for misinformed controversy. Having “staged vs actual gameplay” in the title is pretty much making sure that the mentioned group skips further reading and goes on a bullshot mission somewhere.

        As for the potential effect of aiding comparisons between sims, note that all sims have publicity screenshots taken from dramatic angles. Why not this sim too, especially seeing as there isn’t a single bullshot of it in existence? Oh, and the net is full of “actual gameplay” videos and pictures already.

        Normally intelligent people already understand that a dramatic composed shot looks, well, more dramatic than any random shot, they understand that you don’t drive while looking at a front quarter view shot from a centimetre above the tarmac to take in the microscopic detail of carbon fiber weave . I.e. they know perfectly well what to expect. Amith Thomas explains this in detail.

        Also, shots of the behind-the-car driving position do look a bit silly, by the very nature of the silliness of it. If you have to do this, at least make some from-the-cockpit shots. Whatever you do, don’t pander to idiots with flawed delusion-strengthening articles like this – as I have explained it may well have the opposite effect of what you intended (know your audience and all that…).

        • Giuseppe Nelva

          Sorry to disappoint you mate. But we write our articles for people that are able to read.

          Can’t take responsibility for those that aren’t, and you probably shouldn’t worry too much about them either. They aren’t going to play, let alone buy a racing simulator anyway.

          • ModernTimes2

            Heh… well that’s a point. But they sure make a ruckus in pCARS screenshot threads, and this article isn’t going to cause less of it, which was my point. Oh well, I don’t really expect any of that to change anyway :-))

          • Jeff Maxwell

            problem is PCscrenies etc what do you think of watch dogs gamplay advertisements??

          • ModernTimes2

            I’m not into Watch Dogs, sorry.

          • Jeff Maxwell

            its ok it’ll be good what ever. I love gta’esque games so it all good. Better get re national guard out with infra red. And do nor leVe the command truck for a few minutes. Btw sorry wad going fir future kindcdidngvthink it was real

          • Jeff Maxwell

            im glad you’ve done it cus it isn’t worth the exra £££ sent on gfx unless is that how a replay of your race looks so ganeplay is so so. But replay is amazing???

          • ModernTimes2

            Sigh… It’s all the same graphics from different viewpoints. No extra £££ s(p)ent on graphics. Gameplay is not “so so”. Wait and see.

            @ Guiseppe Nelva: See… they’re arriving 😉

          • Jeff Maxwell

            yeah going see how 280x does on YouTube it’ll be ok better than ps4 anyway advit rubs 1080pbin the castle

      • albatrosMyster

        Most of these people must be young teens or something, some of them think a change in day time = lighting downgrade :-/ sometimes I am ashamed when I read that kind of post, people don’t even seem to know what qualifies as bullshots/bull demos/bull videos and simple changes.

  • Jason arango

    maybe its the screen shots or that they are not in motion but to me drive club looks better graphically

    • pez2k

      Driveclub runs at half the framerate of Project CARS on PS4, so I’d certainly hope it does.

      • Jecht_Sin

        Then it seems from these screenshots that 30fps wasn’t a bad choice after all. Although Project Cars still looks great, sure.

        • Jeff Maxwell

          Im sort but the pics I’ve seen of project cars looks 10x better than driveclub…. untilbi saw real gameplay shots and tbh im a pc guy but im rooting for drive club atm… Got 6 months hangs my mind go for it

      • Sexy Mcgee

        Then this game looks like it should be running at 120 FPS at least.

  • Negi Springfield

    I must say , It really looks good , Reminds me of Gran Turismo.

    • Slap Every Peasant

      yea gran turismo PC version lol , if only they release the actual game this year.

  • Fake_of_Silva

    I’m a bit disappointed, looks like average graphics only…

  • Russell Gorall

    I said this last week and a mod ranked on me.

    Just waiting on the PS Plus Demo Edition of Driveclub.

    • ImonadrugcalledCharlieSheen

      PS Plus Edition of Driveclub, there fixed it for you.

  • NuclearKangaroo

    i dont get it, is the actual game supposed to look worse? besides the angle i dont think theres any difference between screenshots

  • ImonadrugcalledCharlieSheen

    Hopefully this will have a photo mode similar to GT5’s or Infamous: Second Son’s in the PS4 version.

    • pez2k

      The camera is freely movable in the development builds to use as a photo mode, albeit without boosting the resolution etc. like GT5 does. I believe the feature will be turned into a proper photo mode for release.

  • Inccbus

    You should rename your title “What the PC master race don’t want you to see”.

    • Jeff Maxwell

      it should be called this is the master race version what dont don’t want you to see!!!

      • They Call Me Senpai

        Why wouldn’t Sony want to see this?

        • Jeff Maxwell

          well ya know the ad for ps4 complete bs cus the same trailer is on YouTube except Sony cut off the 1-2, secs in lower left saying not accrual gameplay. Just going compare gameplay pls cus every Sony fan going get owned

    • Jeff Maxwell

      if thats the master race version. Consoled are fvked!;

      • Xtreme Derp

        PC and PS4 are different markets with different pros and cons. PS4 has price/performance and simplicity, PCs have a higher potential performance, but generally more expensive and requires time and knowledge to buy, build, and maintain one.

        PS4 is comparable to a mid range PC at 1.84TF. PS4 has some interesting architecture benefits over traditional split CPU/GPU split memory pool PCs, and other customizations. For $400 you get a lot of price/performance, more than a $400 PC would get you. PS4 is better than most PCs. PS4 will have lots of good exclusives, both console only and PS4 only.

        A high end PC beating a PS4 is not an excuse for Xbox being an overpriced and underpowered console compared to PS4. Maybe Xbox will be worth it for exclusives years from now when it costs $270 (about what the hardware is worth in performance), and you can get a bunch of exclusive games cheap. $500? No. Xbox/PC fanboys seem to be on a war on people too poor or unwilling/unable to spend time buying, building, and maintaining a PC.

        • Jeff Maxwell

          does matter if its a different market if the game doesn’t look good

          • Budgiecat

            who cares we need a Gamera game….

      • sasan maghami

        Consoles are already fucked!:-)

  • Dennis Gammaray

    nothing special at all, the way people was hyping this i was excepting it to blow Driveclub out of the water but this doesn’t get close to Driveclub

    • Jeff Maxwell

      the thing is from screenshots I thought this was going blow drive club out the water not at ps4 60fps but PC ultra 60 tbh I hope project cars gives us some gameolay cus we’ve den driveclub its ok the 1 million tree mesh they stretch in the bg means FA so driveclub got so.e stuttering issues at high speed but they got to October iron it out

      • Xtreme Derp

        Too painful to read.

        • Jeff Maxwell

          yeah the truth hurts btw bg meant background this windows phone 7.5 is starting get really slow on sites like this the ram is to small now i think but lumia 930 when its released will save me

          • Xtreme Derp

            Or you can get an android or iphone like a normal human being.

          • Jeff Maxwell

            ill never buy a iPhone again boring overpriced trash. I think its a bug cus whenever I open up disqus it must leave a process running in the background cus I turn everything off including data connection and my battery will die in about 7 hours. Waiting on my quad core, 2GB ram, 1080p display, 32GB storage a/b/g/n/ac NFC Lumia 930 to be released in a month or so thanks. owns android any day of the week

          • JustGaming

            I think he was referring to your punctuation, or lack thereof.

          • Jeff Maxwell

            where part of the texting generation, we don’t use punctuation as it takes up valuable character space!!

    • sasan maghami

      I agree nothing special.i don`t know how driverclub looks but i expected more because of the screenshots i have is good but not mind blowing.

  • Jeff Maxwell

    I am completely confused i looked at some screenies from dsogaming and they looked mind blowing was all set for buying another 280x run in xfire for 780ti+ performance and see this… Its not that i don’t appreciate the tone of work gine into the game but this is a rediculous downgrade compared to what we weeall expecting!!

    • Xtreme Derp

      Shut up non-4k gaming peasant.

      • Jeff Maxwell

        you calling yourself a peasant to then???

  • Hwoarang

    Reading through these comments makes me feel like I need to have my eyes tested. The game looked better in the screenshots sure, but it still looks gorgeous either way.

  • Jordan

    Wow…… this game looks like garbage… (For next gen)

  • When the hell is this game going to be released?

    • pez2k

      November 2014.

  • Axe99

    Taking a photo at an angle makes everything better ;).

  • Yisa Yussuf

    2014.. The year of hyping up games that are over 6 months away or don’t even have a release date

    • albatrosMyster

      You obviously don’t recall every single years of gaming since… forever.

  • sasan maghami

    It is less than what the previous screenshots made me is good but not mind blowing.

  • Mellow_Butch

    You know…the XBone fans kill me…the only reason this game has had any hate spewed it’s way is because it was initially not even slated to come out on the XBox. Now Project Cars and DriveClub make Forza 5 look like a 360 game and the XBone fans are nervous that the XBone version is going to be garbage, so they have to launch an ongoing preemptive strike basically because it’s very possible again that the XBone version is going to be a downgrade from the PS4 version.

  • Rinslowe

    One thing is certain. The game is gorgeous regardless. Beautiful.

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