Car damage in racing games. How hard can it be? Well, very, very hard if the current standard is anything to go by.
When you consider the complexity of rendering a realistic crash, it's hardly surprising that current hardware struggles to cope. Codemasters and Criterion have done a commendable job with their intricate damage modelling systems in DiRT and Burnout over the years, but I'm hoping the next generation consoles will signal a dramatic shift in realistic car damage, with full, authentic chassis crumbling.
With Project CARS heralded as the frontrunner of the next generation cycle of racing games, Slightly Mad Studios have an opportunity to show how it should be done – if their impeccable eye for detail when it comes to photorealistic graphics is anything to go by, then it's not unreasonable to expect a similar level of effort applied to the damage modelling.
So far however, we've not had many glimpses of how damage will look in-game, although in fairness this is probably because it hasn't been fully developed yet in the game's relatively primal state.
Indeed, in an effort to make the game look as photogenic as possible, the cars of Project CARS have been presented in pristine condition to let you admire its gorgeous graphical prowess, to the point you can identify the individual droplets of rain on the gleaming bodywork. But being the sadistic person that I am, I want to see these immaculate machines banged up beyond recognition.
Now though, Slightly Mad Studios has provided an early look at Project CARS' damage modelling, and it looks very impressive indeed to say the least at such an early stage of development. Yes, the headlights in the screenshot should be shattered and the texture paint scratches on the sides don't look revolutionary yet, but the buckled bodywork looks convincing and the deformation appears to be dynamic.
We'll have to see some video of it in action to offer our full judgement, but considering that Project CARS is still a year away from its final release there's certainly potential here to set a new standard of car damage in sim racing, an aspect that is often woefully under-looked in the genre as developers strive to deliver perfect physics and gorgeous graphics.