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NASCAR 09 360 Review

11/09/2007 Family Family Gamer Review
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NASCAR 09 360





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Race Gamer (PS3)

National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing has always been an American affair. But keen to build popularity, it should be a good time for a NASCAR game.

EA's NASCAR series still stands alone as the only ongoing racing game in the genre. This is its ninth release, as it continues to track the 360 with one game each year since Microsoft joined the games race back in the late 90's. Like other entries in EA's arsenal, NASCAR 09 delivers a sport that is not really all that interesting to us Brits.

But this yearly assault seems to be slowly paying off. Even my own kids have unknowingly fallen in love with the NASCAR world through the questionable charms of Lightening McQueen and his chums in the Cars movie from Pixar. The sport, although on the face of it more formulaic that Formula One, seems to be better at communicating what it is that makes it interesting to watch. Cars alone is a text book lesson in the language, techniques and structure of NASCAR racing and as we speak is being imbibed by young and old all over the planet.

Even my own kids have unknowingly fallen in love with the NASCAR world through the questionable charms of Lightening McQueen.

So what about the game? The overall impression is that this year we have a production that has had more attention. EA's rolling titles seem to progress this way. One year they focus on the front end, game options and playability. The next year they focus on the game engine and graphics. Unfortunately, this often means that you are ill advised to buy these games year in year out. And more happily that some year's games become, like a good wine, a classic in the series kept and remembered for years to come.

This year, NASCAR was certainly at the front of the queue for both the driving engine and the graphics. Last year's fiddling with the driving experience is simply blown out the water here with two comprehensive control modes, professional and standard. I let the kids loose on the default standard option and they certainly seemed to get the assistance they needed. Now, this is still a long way from the Family Play perfection that so well serves family players in Madden and FIFA, but it serves its purpose. I'll be interested to see what Game People's Race Gamer, Jon Starkey [race_PS3_nascar09.htm], makes of the professional mode. For me it was plenty full of car wrestling corners along with a good dose of both under and over steer.

The other main difference is the introduction of Jeff Gordon. He provides a new face on the box and new in game career mode "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup", not to mention his themed 3D menus. This joins "Own the Track" and "Sprint Driver Challenge" to offer a few new tricks to died in the wool NASCAR players. Also of note is the Forza inspired car customisation where you can paint, decal and shine your car to perfection.

I grew up with Formula One and I want my offspring to do the same.

The bottom line for me though is that I'm never really going to get that inspired at getting my kids into NASCAR. I grew up with Formula One and I want my offspring to do the same. NASCAR, like the country it comes from, is such a world of its own. The language, set-up of the cars, and races structure are very different from that for the F1 circuit I remember pawing over as a child.

Obviously this is more a reflection on my than the game, but what can you do. If you follow, or want to start following, that great and mighty juggernaut that it NASCAR then this is well worth checking. If, like me, you are still stuck on the closer to home Formula One then you will want to wait for a good F1 game - although, right now that has been a long time coming.

Written by Andy Robertson

You can support Andy by buying NASCAR 09

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Andy Robertson writes the Family Gamer column.

"Videogame reviews for the whole family, not just the kids. I dig out videogame experiences to intrigue and interest grownups and children. This is post-hardcore gaming where accessibility, emotion and storytelling are as important as realism, explosions and bravado."

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