Pages: 1 2 3
Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: May 22, 2000
What does a major game publisher do when it releases an absolute dud? Some try to bury the project and pretend they never put it out, others ditch the developer and start again from scratch, and still others attempt to make up for lost revenues by flooding it at discount prices into bargain bins within mass-market retailers. Only a few have the perseverance to rework it thoroughly, preserving the few competent elements and redesigning the others, in the hopes of somehow making the effort a success. That is exactly what Electronic Arts has done with its NASCAR lineup. After releasing NASCAR Revolution last year and receiving a carload of deep-seated criticism from the gaming press and the public (including an inglorious one and a half star overall rating from me), the company has produced a sequel called NASCAR 2000 designed by the same developer Stormfront Studios. With Sierra and Papyrus firmly in control of the NASCAR PC racing market with NASCAR Racing 3 and NASCAR Legends, can EA Sports give them a run for their money?
NASCAR 2000 features 33 top current NASCAR drivers and 18 real NASCAR tracks, but neither is truly comprehensive, as some of the latest NASCAR drivers are omitted and some of the official NASCAR tracks are not here. To augment the drivers, the game incorporates seven NASCAR legends from the past for nostalgic purposes so you can compete against the best of all time. To augment the tracks, there are six new non-oval fantasy road courses to provide challenges that are quite different because of the less predictable twists and turns in them. The three types of tracks included are speedways and superspeedways, where of course high speed is paramount to success; short tracks, where gear ratios are most critical, and road courses, where handling affected by spoiler and wedge settings is most critical. While other NASCAR computer offerings have more comprehensive coverage, the variety of drivers and tracks in NASCAR 2000 is certainly more than adequate.
This title also sports authentic racing teams and cars, and EA Sports has managed to get licenses for the “big three” NASCAR car manufacturers — Chevrolet, Ford, and Pontiac. The pattern of cooperation and cutthroat competition among the drivers depends on the team, the car manufacturer, and family loyalties, in contrast to most other racers I have played; you wouldn’t expect Dale Earnhardt Jr., to cut off his dad Dale Earnhardt, would you? The rules of racing are quite true-to-life, as NASCAR 2000 uses the official point system, flags, and pit stops. Unlike NASCAR Revolution, where you just had to sit by and passively watch when your car went into the pits, in NASCAR 2000 you may activate manual pit control, with a continuation of the exceptional motion-captured pit crews that change tires and even make vehicles look spiffy. Pit stops are quite a highlight of this offering, and are crucial when you have low fuel, worn tires, poor handling, and damage; there is even an option to determine whether or not the pit crew can make mistakes.
Numerous racing modes are available: You may choose between full and reduced season options, and you may race a single race weekend or race an entire championship season. There is a Quick Race mode here that allows you to be a random NASCAR driver on a random track. You can even go one-on-one against the King Richard Petty. During a race weekend, you take a few practice laps around the track, shoot for the pole position during a qualifying lap, and participate in a Happy Hour where you test your car against other drivers, all in preparation for the big race. During the Point Standings Championship, you try to rack up top ten finishes so as to get a chance to win the big prize. In multiplayer competition over the Internet (four-player), a LAN (eight-player), or serial connection (two-player), you may race in either single tracks or a whole series. In most modes you can choose the number of laps in a race and how many competitors you face, but not weather conditions. Several viewing angles are available to keep track of the racing, but the in-car dashboard view lacks a moving driver or steering wheel (even though it does have functioning dials), and no overhead aerial view is available as I would have liked for this kind of racing to get a bird’s eye view of what was going on up ahead.
Pages: 1 2 3