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NASCAR Racing 2002 Review
PII-450, 64MB RAM, 16MB 3D accelerator
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Feb 14, 02 (released)
|» All About NASCAR Racing 2002 on ActionTrip|
It's likely that there are a lot of gamers who refuse to bother themselves with driving simulations like NASCAR. There's a reason for that I guess; most of them think that it's all about perpetually turning your car left (which does tend to make you dizzy). But, the situation is quite the contrary.
Before any of you actually start playing NASCAR 2002, you'll have to take many crucial details into consideration - some of them are related to tweaking your car's performance, while others involve basic gameplay and graphics optimizations. This is one of the best things about NASCAR, because no matter what type of player you are, every game aspect can always be adjusted to your preferences. This means, if you're a passionate NASCAR buff there's a considerable amount of options for you to mess with; on the other hand, casual gamers can take the time to alter the game's settings to a less hardcore type of driving simulation. In the beginning, this selection can be made by going for either the stress-free and easy arcade-style racing, or the more realistic simulation option. Additionally, I would strongly recommend that you undergo all the racing stages (practice, qualifying, and warm-up) before you start the actual championship race. When you've learned all that's necessary to know about a particular track, then you'll be ready to rock and roll.
All things considered, gamers will have fun no matter what driving mode they choose. Within the arcade style, your racing opponents will be less demanding to your driving skills and basically you don't have to get entangled with intricate vehicle optimizations if you don't want to. However, do not expect for other competitors to be too lenient. Every other driver is going to remain focused on the road at all times, and he will do what ever it takes to stop you from winning the race (good job on the AI there). Passing them will not be an easy task, and if you do not concentrate, you could easily loose your position in the race or you are liable to get "thrown off" the course (which will be pickle to recover from - rather like in real life). "What keeps your attention through this game? You just keep going around for ages!" - Sure, most of you will probably think that. Regardless, this game will always be challenge, and here's why.
Each track requires you to keep up a certain tempo. The tracks are unique and have different curve angles. Now the trick here is to adapt to the track and go through it as fast as those turns allow you, while harassed by a large number of challenging cars. Well, harassed is perhaps the wrong word. Throughout the game, I was always attempting to go around the bends as fast as possible, which was rather difficult with other cars getting in my way (well, duh that's the point). Therefore, I decided to go for a very sleazy tactic: basically whenever the opponent in front of me slowed me down I would floor it and give him a good bump in his back end as sort of a warning to get the hell out of my way. Doing that can cause the unfortunate victim to loose balance of the vehicle and consequently he can take other opponents out of the race with him (so that's, taking out a lot of birds with one stone). I became the meanest bully on the track; but this is where NASCAR rules kick in. If you do this too often, you can be disqualified for hazardous driving. Disobeying many other rules can result in this. For example, if you're caught speeding in the pit lane, if you merge hastily to the race after being in the pit stop, etc.
Realism is everything in this game. First off, adjusting your vehicle before the race has a significant effect on the way it will handle itself on the road. For such details I'd recommend checking out the extremely meticulous (although non-interactive) tutorial. The control system responds well to your commands and it also corresponds with the laws of physics. The good in-game physics can be best distinguished in the way cars react to bumps, crashes, and massive collisions. Apart from reacting convincingly, they also have a great visual appeal. When you watch a reply of a race, you'll be able to see just how genuine the animations of these incidents are.
Graphics are another cool aspect of NASCAR 2002, even though they could use some polishing when it comes to scenery detail and crowd presentation. Also, I found that the models of your pit stop crew look extremely ugly. Luckily, that doesn't bare any negative effects on the feel of gameplay. Besides that, there are many cool effects, such as realistic car-damage, model reflections, detailed model and ground textures, etc. Plus, during the race, there's a cool variety of camera angles, from the realistic cockpit view, to the infamous rear chase perspective.
In such a specific driving simulation it may be too much to expect any exceptional sound effects. Nonetheless, I have to say that NASCAR could definitely use richer sounds. During the race, all you are going to hear is the humming of your engine and the rushing of your opponents (and the endless and incredibly repetitive comments of your advisor - but hey you can shut these off if you like). OK, I guess the ocassional sound of the blowing wind is a cool effect; but, honestly there's nothing more than that.
Now, let me see if there's anything I left out. Hm, not much I guess. There's the great fun that comes with the multiplayer racing. For me, it was fun all together, whether I was racing against "live" competitors or AI-controlled ones. The game has 23 tracks for you to race through, three of which are brand new (Kansas Speedway, Coca Cola Fantasy Track, and Chicagoland Speedway). Of course, you'll have standard challenges like, practice, single-race, championship, and so on. Despite the lack of more new tracks, I think this game is going give pleasure to both hardcore NASCAR devotees and average gamers. Papyrus have done their job well once more.
8.9 Very Good
There's always a challenge on the road. You need great driving skills to hold your position. Excellent racing experience altogether;
More sound effects, more graphic details in the background. Occasional lagging in the frame-rate in modest resolution modes.
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