Only blind, hardcore racers need apply.
You're at the starting line of your first NASCAR race ever. A bead of sweat collects on your brow as you glance around at the other cars on the line. As the green flags falls, you give it some gas, release the clutch and start your way towards your first NASCAR Grand National Division championship. You slowly ease into the first turn, deciding to go conservative and not to push the RPMs quite yet. Coming around for your first lap, you think to yourself, "Okay, one down. Three hundred more to go. I'm one three-hundredth of the way to winning the first race of my championship!"
Thus is the life of a NASCAR racer, the type of gamer who is consciously separating himself from balls out, high speed course-based titles like Grand Prix Legends, Powerslide and even DeathKarz in exchange for a calmer, more predicable strategic racing game like NASCAR Racing. You might even call it the thinking gamer's approach to racing games. In the end, it's only "hardcore" racing fans that will really enjoy NASCAR Racing: 1999 Edition.
Hardcore fan or not, any gamer will quickly notice NASCAR Racing: 1999 Ed.'s most inferior aspect: a seriously outdated 3D engine. When comparing its visuals to other racing titles on the market, like Powerslide and Grand Prix Legends, you might wonder why NASCAR '99 wasn't released two years ago. The fact remains that with all the current 3D hardware available, the game could have looked a helluvalot better than it does. The cars are passable, somewhat detailed 3D objects, but everything else looks like garbage. Any background objects (trees, people etc.) are the most obvious 2D sprites I have ever seen, and it is beyond me how a game with relatively little to draw (the same scene around the track) can have so much popup. NASCAR Racing: 1999 Ed.'s visuals have no place in today's advanced, 3D accelerated, visually pleasing market.
As far as realism goes, the game definitely has one of the more commendable physics engines in the genre. With the ability to race both stock cars and craftsman trucks, both everyday and hardcore racers will definitely be able to feel the difference. Offering realistic and arcade driving (and damage) modes, players can satisfy their all-out need for speed (which gets very old after more than five laps) and their realistic, sim-racing cravings. As you'd expect, there are a number of different tweaks and changes that can be applied to cars and trucks, like spoiler angle adjustment, tire pressure, and bias adjustments.
In any racing game, AI is definitely a vital part of the game's success. At first, I must admit that I was impressed with the way the AI executed different driving maneuvers: they drafted at the right points, advanced when the time was right, etc. After a little more playing, however, I realized that some of the AI's reactions to the human player's actions was much less intelligent. For example, when being towed by a truck (at about 15 miles an hour), an AI car will slowly plan out its pass over a long period of time, rather than realizing that you are going slower than molasses on a cold day.
The bottom line is that Nascar '99 is a visually flawed game whose gameplay will only attract hardcore racing fans. Going around a track about 300 times can really try one's patience, and 300 laps with mip-maping flaws and annoying popups doesn't help either. Left turns just get annoying after awhile. Unless you are really into the whole NASCAR deal, stay away.