NASCAR 08 review


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Buy your copy from NASCAR 08 (2007) starno starno starno starno star Publisher: Electronic Arts
Category: Racing
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2
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I’ll admit it, I’m not a NASCAR fan by any means. I have never understood the appeal of the “sport,” and can’t think of anything more boring to watch (other than perhaps golf) when it comes to spectator sports. True fans really eat the stuff up, though, and recently the good old boys even took their dog and pony show up to Canada and had a big old time arguing, throwing tools and pulling hair. When it comes to video games, however, I’ll gladly try anything once, regardless of whether or not I like its real life counterpart (in the games where such things exist, anyway). I tend to really like racing games in general, and even though I was aware that in NASCAR the cars only make left-hand turns, there was still some hope for a bit of fun.

It’s too bad then that “NASCAR 08,” by the fine folks at Electronic Arts, is such a complete dud, and it really has nothing to do with the fact that it’s a NASCAR game. It’s just simply a bad racing game, period. For starters, there’s the whole “feel” and control of the cars. You get the feeling when playing this game that you truly need a racing wheel to have any success at it, because driving with the analog sticks feels clunky, unresponsive, and way too sensitive when the cars get up to any measure of real speed. However, other games of late that I’ve enjoyed (such as “Forza 2” and “DiRT”) had neither of these problems when it came to playing with the basic controllers.

It would seem, then, that this game’s “easy” mode has actually been oddly skewed to a more “veteran” style of play. Yeah, I’ll be honest, if I’m stepping into a genre of game I’ve never tried, it’s set on easy from the get-go until I get the feel of the controls. Unfortunately, this never happened while playing “NASCAR 08.” Even more so than any rally game, these cars make you overcorrect your steering in the turns until you either accidentally crash into something or unintentionally lose control and crash into something. It’s no fun at all. Yes, the cars can be calibrated when it comes to the steering and such, but even the tweaks didn’t make enough difference.

It’s pretty much an unwritten rule: any racing gamer should be able to jump right in and enjoy a racing game within a short amount of time, be he newcomer or seasoned pro. That’s just how it should be, whether it’s an arcade type of game, or an all-out simulation. Both generally tend to have settings that let anyone step right up and have a good time within a matter of minutes. Not so with this title. “NASCAR 08” makes sure you will be fully punished from the starting line. And what’s fun about that? Absolutely nothing.

So while you’re painfully trying to get control of you car, let’s look at some of the features in the game. In this outing we have “The Chase,” which is a ridiculous sort of quest mode that has you running around the country trying to secure licenses and contracts so you can get your own cars and start up your own team. Too bad the cars are infuriating to drive, so having to go through these dull tests over and over (even on the easy setting) gets boring fast. If that doesn’t suit your style, there’s also the good old “season mode” and a “quick race mode” that lets you pick from a vast array of drivers (I’m supposing it’s pretty much everyone) from the NASCAR roster. Oh, and Japanese car fans will be delighted to know that there are now Toyotas to drive in the game. But unlike real life, these handle as poorly as the American-made crap, so have fun.

In recent memory, it’s tough to recall a racing game that has sucked as much as “NASCAR 08.” Forget all you know about having fun and racing video games. This one makes sure you’re in mental pain the entire time you’re playing. Ah, and those graphics aren’t very pretty, either. Can you say “jaggies?” I knew you could. Basically, if you waste your time with this game, you’d better love NASCAR more than anyone else you know. Everyone else can just avoid this one altogether. Suffice it to say my own personal opinion of NASCAR hasn’t changed with this experience. Ah well, I’m sure someone out there will want my copy.

~Jason Thompson