Today’s rivals event puts you behind the wheel of an unremarkable Toyota Supra. But then it adds the dramatic stuff. There’s a rainstorm. It’s night. You’re on a track with plenty of twists and turns and elevation changes. In other words, lots of rear-wheel drive slippin’ and slidin’, in poor visibility, with a car just sluggish enough to let you enjoy it.
The real star of this drama is the team who designs fictional tracks at Slightly Mad Studios. Their Mojave track feels like a fanciful remix of the Willow Springs International Raceway, a desert track a couple hours drive north of Los Angeles. The layout of Willow Springs doesn’t look like much until you include elevation data and see that it’s got plenty of up-and-down to go with its back-and-forth. It loves to put hairpin turns at the crest of a hill or the bottom of a steep dip. Half the track is just an excuse to make you drive across a mountain. Mojave is Willow Springs but bigger, taller, wilder, and crazier. Like Willow Springs, a top-down view doesn’t do it justice. To appreciate Mojave, you have to see its ups and downs. Especially its ups.
There are five variants of Mojave. Boa Ascent is all about Mojave’s ups. It’s all about getting you up the track’s wildly winding climb, then back down lickety-split, and around real quick to do it again. I would enjoy it as much as Bathurst if it weren’t for the fun wiggly bits going uphill instead of downhill. Mojave is a finicky technical climb; Bathurst is a waterslide.
Mojave’s Sidewinder variant lays flat and tightly coiled, shunting you through the track’s tunnel because who doesn’t love driving through a tunnel? Remember to hold your breath for good luck! The Gila Crest layout sports a graceful curve like the blade of a scimitar. This is its embankment, which looks like something out of a Wipeout game. To fully enjoy it, you either need to be going really fast or piloting some futuristic maglev vehicle. As far as I know, Project Cars 3 doesn’t have any maglev vehicles, so I’ve opted for going really fast. While you’re letting your car cruise Gila Crest at its top speed — if there’s one thing more insane than the angle of the embankment, it’s its length — drift up the embankment. Now look out your side windows. That’s the road on one side and the sky on the other.
Coyote Noose is more or less a small oval. Well, an oval in the style of Mojave, so it’s got a couple of bends thrown in for good measure. It’s too small to include the Gila Crest embankment. It’s actually too small for any of Mojave’s features, except the open sky. That’s one of the trademarks of Willow Springs also present in Mojave. These tracks have a lot of sky.
The fifth variant, Cougar Ridge, brings it all together. It’s the whole Mojave enchilada. The winding ascent, the tunnel, the Gila Crest embankment, and even a long stretch of desert road to ease you gently out of whatever speed you reached along Gila Crest. And with today’s variant, you get to experience it with the additional drama of a dark and stormy night.
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Previously: Linda Ronstadt should get this car