NASCAR makes a triumphant return to next gen consoles with EA's NASCAR 08. This is no longer the grainy PS2 ports of old, 08 has been built from the ground up to take advantage of all the next gen tricks of the trade.
GRAPHICS: This is the area in which NASCAR 08 has seen the biggest improvements. Be it from the sun glinting of the paint on the cars, to the expertly rendered cockpit view, not one detail is left out. The particle effects have also been expanded to offer some of the most realistic smoke effects in a racing game to date. Likewise, careening you car off track will throw dirt clods and dust in to the air in an amazing effect. The sense of speed is also present thanks to the new graphics engine. When you're tucked in behind two cars in a tight pack at 180+ mph, you can really feel the exhilaration that is signature to NASCAR. Damage modeling is also very well done. From the slightest bump to a total wreck, ever ding, dent and scratch is shown in glorious HD. Even contact with the wall leaves a smear of your paint.
SOUND: As with the graphics the sound (when using 5.1) puts you right in the race! Everything from the roar of the engine to the twisting metal of a crash has been brought to life. Radio chatter from your pit crew also helps to further immerse you into the race. On the flip side, the menu music caters to a more "country" flavor, with songs from most of today's big country acts. Thanks goodness NASCAR 08 supports custom soundtracks for the rest of us!
GAMEPLAY: The physics are really working hard and there's no better place to see this than in the cockpit view. Ever bump of the track is modeled to perfection. I've never raced a stock car before, but I'd bet this is what it must feel like (minus the heat of course). Drafting and the slingshot also play critical roles in getting to the front of the pack and NASCAR 08 delivers on both. Racing bumper to bumper behind another car only to accelerate out at 175 mph is truly amazing and rocketing up the pack is very satisfying. The pits also have some of the most realistic looking animations I've seen. Every nuance from the pit crew has been created.
VALUE: If you're a long time NASCAR fan or new comer to the sport, NASCAR 08 is the perfect game to start with! Replay value is high, considering anything can happen at any time, depending on your skill level of course.