NASCAR 08 Review
And Round and Round ...
When you think of NASCAR you think of circles, going round and round and generally unless you’re a fan of the series quite a boring sport. This is exactly the perception I had until I played it.
Graphically it’s not going to win any awards and unfortunately my stopwatch broke so I can’t give you any numbers on FPS compared to the 360 version but I’ve played both and never noticed a difference. The graphics are acceptable, but where the game really comes into its own is with the animations.
It has incredible crash animations. You watch pure carnage as cars flip, roll slide and get destroyed in “the big one”. The screen shakes as you pound a wall at 180mph giving you a real sense for the speed and danger of the sport.
As you roll down the pit lane at 50, you see the rubber graining off the tyres and all the pit mechanics waiting for their car. There are even flag marshals something I've never seen before in a video game.
I’m completely new to NASCAR and the game does an excellent job of telling you what you need to do, with tutorials and licence's at varying difficulties to suit everyone. More in depth explanation of the series and points system etc. would be nice though but there is always Google.
The game play really is where the game stands out for me. The tyre model is fantastic. The difference between cold and warm tyres is the biggest I’ve ever seen on a video game and it really affects your race. You need to be able to adapt to your tyres condition to stay on the track and keep the lead.
The AI is no pushover either. Easily able to challenge new players and they do it aggressively. You can’t push them around as they come back at you hard and normally destroy your race. Luckily they do it to each other to some random accidents around the tracks are common and like humans they make mistakes like running out of fuel!
You get genuinely tense as you lead the race for the 18th lap with 2 to go as anything can happen. The guy behind you could get in your slip steam and take you, you could go wide into a wall or lapping the AI you could write off your car, something incredible to experience in a video game.
The sound track is very American but a nice change and it does suit the game well, the car sounds are nothing special but the usual EA ESPN radio guy returns to keep you up to date.
Online the setup is fantastic apart from one quite big flaw. You can’t password your rooms or make them invite only there always open.(Someone should have told the guy who wrote the manual this) However to make up for it you can have full length races, yes the full 500 or so laps, with everything customisable from AI strength to flag rules and car series.
Online against real people every little detail matters from timing your pits right to dropping down to the right speed in the pit lane to avoid a penalty. Cheats will have a hard time with the robust flag system although the yellow flags can be exploited to bring you back into contention.
Overall, this is a solid game that will impress newcomers and not scare them away. Driving round in circles (and even some real tracks!) really is more fun than it sounds and this game is defiantly worth checking out.
By Aaron Kalair
How do you get excited about a sport you know nothing about apart from the odd film you've seen and hot dog eating Americans shouting "Woo". ok a bit harsh but come on, what is NASCAR?
NASCAR is one of the best online racers I've played. I know, I didn't see this coming. It's exciting and fun. You can set up a game with up to 12 AI with every setting you can think of that should be in every racing game to come. It's solid and deserves better scores than the scores you may have read on the internet.
One of the reasons for the low scores is that the game has taken a big step back to tailor the game towards newcomers like myself. I could just jump in and learn the sport and get into the single player and race away. Hardcore NASCAR fans will be angry that there game has gone backwards and it's a move that may have backfired for EA but at he same time it's got new players in like myself. NASCAR 09 is a must have for me now so I guess they may pull off what they aimed to do.