We got the black flag. Review

NASCAR Grand National Series Expansion Pack Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • 1 - 32

Publisher

  • Papyrus/Sierra

Developer

  • N/A

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC

rating

We got the black flag.

As most racing fans know, NASCAR Racing 2 has few real

competitors in the slow-growing genre of realistic driving simulators. While arcade

racers are piling up faster than a first-turn wipeout at the Bristol International,

only Grand Prix II, Indy

Car Racing II
and Microsoft’s new CART Precision

Racing
offer authentic physics, pit-crews, spotter relays, modeled tracks,

weather variance and simulated professional opponents. The dearth of choices surely

means that the NASCAR Grand National Series Expansion Pack is welcome news

to NASCAR Racing 2 fanatics.

Now most expansion packs

can be placed into one of three categories: those that give you what the original

game promised but lacked (the add-on for X-Wing vs.

Tie Fighter
that will finally provide a strong single-player campaign);

those that extend a great game to new heights (the Quake

add-on, Scourge of Amargon, that had new weapons, monsters, destructible

architecture and better single-player levels than Quake);

or those that extend the game’s life by giving you more of the same (the new

campaigns for Longbow in the Gold edition,

for example). The NASCAR Grand National Series Expansion Pack falls safely

into the third category.

Though there are a variety of ways the year-old NASCAR

Racing 2
could have been substantially improved — 3Dfx support, in-game

music, pit-crew animations, a rethinking of the menu structure, better on-line

help — none of these enhancements have been made. Instead, the add-on offers

new cars, drivers and ten tracks from the 1997 Grand National Circuit. A painless

installation creates a “Season Schedule” option on the Race Weekend menu; from

here you can choose the original 1996 circuit or the new expansion circuit.

As a bonus, Papyrus/Sierra has included two extremely fun “fantasy” Need

for Speed
-style tracks which are quite unlike any of the realistic rides

you’ll normally find in the original NASCAR Racing 2.

The hefty 65 MB add-on also updates the original by fixing a few multiplayer

bugs and providing a new mid-race save feature–after the third lap you can

now save your race while you are driving.

My favorite new track is

the Texas Motor Speedway; this is the one place you can mash the gas with little

or no breaking and still survive. Other notables are the expansive California

Speedway (another long track rendered in wonderful detail) and the Hickory Motor

and South Boston Speedways–two short tracks (under a half-mile) which makes

for non-stop swerving and dodging even if you’re ten laps down. In general,

the new tracks have a slight bit more detail than the original NASCAR tacks;

you’ll still see the requisite spectators, RVs, advertisements, trees, camera

crews, announcers and a few surprises here and there.

NASCAR Racing 2 fanatics who have mastered the 1996

circuit will obviously consider this expansion pack a “must-have.” And for frustrated

drivers, the new ability to save races in progress will certainly be welcome.

But apart from this new save feature, the NASCAR Expansion Pack offers

no significant improvement in gameplay, graphics, or sound. This raises the

question of value. I suspect that for most users — who probably never even

made it through the copious tracks in NASCAR Racing 2

— this add-on will just be overkill. The fantasy tracks and bug updates are

available online for free (www.sierra.com),

and $29.95 is a high price to pay for just ten tracks and a new set of computerized

opponents. For the addicted, the NASCAR Racing 2 Grand National Series Expansion

Pack
is a good fix — it may even stave off the shakes until Christmas 98

when NASCAR Racing 3 should be out. For the rest of you, hold out on

this one.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

Rating5
+ 1997 tracks and drivers
+ New in-race save feature.
- No substantial improvements
- Steep hard disk requirements
- Fantasy tracks available free on-line