Days of Thunder Preview

Rubbing is racing.

One of the great things about my job is the amazing opportunities I get to experience, things that I would never have done in my life otherwise. Even things I'm not particularly interested in. If I had been a lawyer or a car salesman, I would have lived out all my years and would have never gone to Wrestlemania, would have never been to the Disney Family Museum, would have never visited the Russian Consulate, would have never been to a PBR rodeo, would have never met the Prime Minister of Iceland, and I never would have gone to a NASCAR race.

[image1]Unlike many millions of Americans, I don't follow what turns out to be the most popular spectator sport in the United States. However, thanks to the upcoming Days of Thunder game for Xbox Live Arcade Playstation Network, PC and Mac, Paramount Digital was nice enough to fly me down to Los Angeles to attend a NASCAR event at the Toyota Motor Speedway. It was loud, it was brash, the fumes stunk, the stands were packed, and the fans were crazy. Would I ever buy my own ticket and go again? Nope. Was I glad I went? Hell yeaah!

It's all about the experience, and Paramount wants to bring you some of that NASCAR experience with Days of Thunder. Why dust off a 20-year old title? Because if the crowd's reaction to actor Michael Rooker, who played Tom Cruise's nemesis “Rowdy” Burns in the movie Days of Thunder was any indication, the movie still resonates deeply with the core audience. (Fun fact: There actually was an old NES Days of Thunder game way back in the day.)

[image2]Rowdy's character was the aggressive type, and he liked to bump the other cars and trade paint. Picking up where the movie left off, Rowdy ends his racing career and becomes your crew chief. And with you being an up-and-comer, he'll mentor your own left turns to fame.

Far from being a sim, the game highlights Rowdy's style, with plenty of “rubbing” and crashes, all while being an approachable arcade experience. There are new cars to unlock with different characteristics, but it never gets technical. It's all about having fun, not fine-tuning your vehicle's camber and ride height.

Paint jobs, on the other hand, are highly customizable, and at least in the build we played, could be skinned with lots of other cool Paramount Pictures movies, a feature I hope makes it to the final release.

With 12 tracks in six different racing circuits, you'll be able to burn plenty of rubber this summer when Days of Thunder releases. Plus, as an additional bonus, there's no Tom Cruise.