NASCAR 2011: The Game Review

This trend of racing games being so customizable that you can have an arcade and/or simulation experience in the same game is absurd and brilliant. Folks will probably remember it best for allowing any random asshole to enjoy Gran Turismo 5, but this feature is at its best in a game like NASCAR 2011: The Game. The people who played GT5 are the same people who played all the other Gran Turismo games, and even though GT5 was different from its predecessors in this very important aspect, nobody cared because they all thought they already knew exactly what kind of game it was.


NASCAR 2011: The Game (PS3 [Reviewed], XBox360, Wii)
Developer: Eutechnyx
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: March 29, 2011
MSRP: $59.99

Not so with NASCAR 2011. It’s been almost three years since we last had a NASCAR video game, and so the target purchaser demo has refreshed itself from whatever it was before 2008 to anyone who has a modern game console and likes NASCAR, which is a lot of people running the full gamut of racing game skill. The beauty of NASCAR 2011 is not just that it’s an awesome game — which it is — but also that anyone in that target demo can pick it up and have a good time with it. Know that you’ll need a good racing wheel if you wanna go all out simulation, unless you have an improbably steady hand.

Though I’ve already called this game “awesome,” that qualification does come with a few caveats. While the core of the game does provide an excellent experience, there are cracks around the edges, most notably with driver AI. Mostly, it feels like everybody is on rails, not unlike in GT5, while you’re the anomaly, doing your own thing. The biggest effect you’re going to have on the other drivers is, if you screw up without causing a pileup, slowing down some folks enough so that one pack of cars gets a second or two ahead of the rest. That situation is easily rectified, though, by doing something hilarious/stupid to get a restart on the caution.

Which brings me to another gripe: it seemed like nobody but me ever took serious damage, even in the most horrific crashes in the history of the sport. I’d get all 43 racers into a pileup, with cars flying through the air and everything, and after the restart I’d be the only one without a hood, chugging along at 130 while everyone else still has spotless vehicles. Those spotless cars sure to look pretty, though.

As are the tracks, which as you would expect are really great-looking renditions of the speedways of the Sprint Cup and beyond. There is certainly nothing generic about this game.

The game also isn’t very deep. Aside from a single season in the Sprint Cup, you can earn entry into some invitational and eliminator events. (Eliminator being the mode were the racer in last place is removed from the race after each lap.) Then you have 16-person online multiplayer races. And that’s about it, aside from car tuning and cosmetic customization. And, currently, the game plays the 2010 edition of the Sprint Cup, which is silly, even if a 2011 update is coming.

While it’s a shallow game, it’s a good start. It feels good to race in NASCAR 2011, and that at least seems to indicate that Eutechnyx is on the right track. Now we’ll have to see what they can do with ┬ámoving forward.

Pros:

  • Feels good
  • Anyone can get into it

Cons:

  • Computer cars feel on-rails
  • Few features

Final score: 80/100

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1 Comment on NASCAR 2011: The Game Review

Carlos

On September 10, 2011 at 7:54 pm

I have never really liked games that restrict you on where you can go. I dont really like going in circles in a race. I really dont see the point. Just saying is the game good at all? is theyre anything else to it?