"He rubbed ya...and rubbin', son, is racin'."
- Robert Duvall, Days of Thunder
Many folks can't see the logic or entertainment value in stock car racing.
What they see is a bunch of good-ol-boys driving laps in an oval, each racer
dedicated to getting their big shot in Daytona, where they will drive many more
laps in an oval. Ask around. Ask, what's the most exciting aspect of stock car
racing? I'll bet you my autographed Motley Crue CD they'll say, " I just like
it when they crash."
Pretty pathetic really, people watching a race for the sole purpose of hopefully
seeing a 750 horsepower car explode. I've observed this firsthand, someone flipping
through the channels, discontent with Thundercats
and Oprah, stop on stock car racing and express their excitement in hoping
to see a crash. When there is no crash in say, a 25-second time span, it's right
back to the Christopher Lowell show. And I have to admit I'm one of those people.
Nascar doesn't get any play at my house unless I see either smoke, fire, or
some other form of chaos.
However, Nascar is a billion dollar industry with cash flowing in from fans
and hundreds of sponsors, so it would only make sense that EA produce a series
based on the sport. But while past versions of this game have done well, the
PS2 version is something of a letdown.
EA boasts new technology designed especially for the system to enhance the
3D graphics. Well, the Hindenburg and Titanic had, in their times, state-of-the-art
technology, but their designers aren't bragging anymore. Graphically, this game
is a mess. I believe that people who face eviction for spending rent money on
a PS2 deserve better. As I sit here, controller in hand, Country rock a-blastin'
while quoting Days of Thunder lines, I stop in the middle of my Robert
Duvall impression when I see the car models. While the player car model is palatable,
the opposing drivers' cars are not. In fact, in comparing the rival cars from
the Playstation version, it is hard to distinguish the two.
around the track and the backgrounds suffer the same fate; they're jaggier than
Rambo's knife. After inflicting damage to my M&M sponsored car I go in to pit,
only to be greeted by a heavily pixilated crew who look like they came straight
out of an 8-bit Nintendo game.
Although the graphics are archaic, the controls are actually quite good. Racing
games today follow two types of control - Arcade or Simulation. Nascar 2001
offers both, making it suitable for racing fans who have a preference - the
Arcade mode gives the player unbelievable control and is recommended for beginners,
while Nascar fans who want the experience to be a little more realistic should
choose Simulation. This means anyone who slams their foot on the gas (or rather
pushes the analog stick all the way up) from a stop position will sit there
for a while and melt tires.
racers today rely on parts that can be added to increase performance. The cars
o' Nascar rely on modifications of pre-existing parts, meaning that modifications
in stock car racing play a smaller role, and the emphasis is on the drivers
abilities. EA goes into extreme detail in how the cars can be tweaked. Gear
ratios, down force and shocks are fairly standard, but this game takes it a
bit further. You can now check tire pressure, determine the wheel lock, and
even specify the fuel load.
If you're playing Nascar for the first time, get ready for some left turns...a
lot of left turns. Racing in this arena requires the driver to run laps
counter-clockwise on an oval track. The game itself has 24+ tracks and 17 of
them are ovals. How's that for variation. The non-oval tracks are probably just
in there for those arcade style racers.
Sadly, the best thing about this game is testing the crash physics. I like
to stop in the middle of the track, turn around and hit the gas, then watch
the group of cars coming and wonder which is going to lose his standing. To
my delight, the crashes in this game are superb. Not only does the car fly into
the air, but debris from the car litters the track and remains throughout the
The biggest problem with Nascar 2001 is it's reliance on the Nascar
license to succeed. Fans of racing games tend to prefer a variety of cars and
complication in the tracks. Nascar 2001 provides neither - the cars are
eerily similar and the tracks are kept brutally simple.
Frankly, this game is for hardcore Nascar fans only. The crummy presentation
and relatively boring gameplay make it a tough sell for general racing fans.
If you absolutely have to play this game because your friends said it was cool,
do one of two things. One, remember that you're a strong individual and that
you don't give in to peer pressure. Two, rent it first.