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Project CARS and Car Mechanic Simulator 2015 cater to gearheads, but keep it too casual

Hayden Dingman | May 26, 2015
Like cars? Well throw on some classic rock, grab a Miller High Life, and dig into these two simulators.

Project CARS

I allow for a certain amount of magic in my life. While I know a fair amount about the inside of computers, there are other machines I use every day that I understand literally nothing about. How does a blender turn fruit into fruit-glue? How does my shower faucet go from freezing cold to burning hot with nothing in between?

And most importantly, how do cars work?

Actually, to be honest: I thought I knew more about how cars worked. I've changed a (real-life) tire before. I've changed oil. I play a lot of arcade-y racing games. But then Project CARS and Car Mechanic Simulator 2015 released within a few weeks of each other and I suddenly noticed this vast hole in my knowledge.

So I rolled up my sleeves and got my virtual hands greasy.

Good with a wrench

In Car Mechanic Simulator 2015, you live out all your dreams of being the slowest, most inept mechanic shop owner in the world who gradually comes to understand his chosen profession by screwing people's cars up.

Why did you become a mechanic in the first place? Was it to earn your dad's approval? Maybe you're a method actor and you're trying to really understand the plight of the working class? Maybe you're Bruce Springsteen?

Whatever your reason, I suggest you figure out your character's backstory early. Explain to yourself why you don't even know what a "rear sway bar" is, or why you can't locate the steering column, but somehow you own a massive garage shop. And find out quickly, because your first job is coming in.

Okay, so now you have a car. What do you do with it? First you try to understand some of the more esoteric controls. Hint: You can only see what needs to be done to a car by walking up to it and pressing the "O" key. This was not explained by the tutorial, but is a very important part of the game.

Another hint: If the job you're doing provided a list of parts to swap, there'll be a star next to the name of each part. Click that star and the game will highlight where in the car those parts are located. I tell you this because it's another thing the tutorial will not explain.

And without that tutorial explanation, you may very well do what I did: Start hunting for the part in question, dismantling half the front suspension to get at the lower suspension arm.

I can imagine the conversation with the customer now. "Sorry, I know you came in just to get your oil changed. Yes I know it should've taken all of five minutes. No, your car isn't ready. Listen, it's in about a hundred pieces right now. Don't--Don't you yell at me! You're the one who left your car with the mechanic who didn't even know what a rear axle knuckle housing was!"


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