Published Jul 03, 2008In an effort to make the 09 Nascar entry slightly more accessible to less seasoned car racing hands, the folks at EA have provided the option of basic arcade-style car handling in addition to the more cumbersome and familiar pro mode. Its a tactic that will help engage players who are less interested in interpreting which tires will be appropriate for which track, or how connected one might feel to inputs during pack racing. Another notable upgrade from the 08 release is how the car reacts to collisions: a less dramatic interface keeps drivers from careening off the track and sailing into last place from a minor bump.
Preliminary test trials that require one to maintain certain speeds, or pass cars without crashing into them, help players become more accustomed to the controls, in addition to earning valuable "reputation points, which can then be used to upgrade their car. This, as well as the ability to design the surface of their vehicle and choose between sponsor contracts, keeps the game from falling entirely into predictable "career-based toilet-bowl racing where one can derive excitement only from the ability to constantly turn left.
This isnt to diminish the challenge of developing dexterity and patience while driving in line with other racers, as the controls are set-up with attention to detail and increased reputation, along with car upgrades that impact the racing experience, but the lack of red turtle shells and colourful tracks make the experience somewhat repetitive and dull. Highly textured track surfaces and HDR lighting help deliver the purported realism but not enough to make the game particularly invigorating for those outside of the Nascar fold.
The lack of artificial intelligence demonstrated by other cars on the track also diminishes some of the game play experience, as they all seem to behave with a drone mentality. Some variation and interplay amongst drivers other than the player might have helped to amp up the excitement and engagement.
The vast selection of recognisable drivers, tracks and sponsors should please hardcore Nascar fans, in addition to the on-screen inclusion of Jeff Gordon as a wooden, frighteningly friendly guide. However, the game itself is little more than circular racing. After performing the same task for long enough, numbness and singular-vision come about, making complex thought difficult. (EA Sports)