For the past few years, NASCAR sims have been few and
far between. Although the genre hasn't been saturated with many
games, it has been primarily dominated by one company. Papyrus,
Sierra's racing division, has been virtually alone and free to
develop their sims as they chose. In 1995, they put out the highly
acclaimed NASCAR 2, sequel to an earlier release. NASCAR 2 had
excellent graphics (for the time), great realism, good options, and
good handling and physics. A few years went by and sims got
more and more realistic. NASCAR 2 was fading quickly as a viable
sim. With fans of the original craving a new version, Sierra rushed
out NASCAR 99 to the masses. I, for one, was very disappointed in
Sierra's product. It was more or less, NASCAR 2.5. After three
years, I was hoping for something more along the lines of NASCAR
3 with a new engine. Instead I received a refined 3 year old
engine with very basic graphics enhancements. Right then, I
decided, it was time for a new company to step in and put out a
new NASCAR game. Four months later, EA has stepped up to the
task with NASCAR Revolution.
Officially licensed by NASCAR, with 31 real drivers and
17 speedways, you'll be running with the best. EA also included 6
NASCAR legends, including Richard Petty and Bobby Allison, to
give NR a little nostalgia.
EA is renowned for having stellar graphics, so right from
there I was ready to play a good looking game with some nice eye
candy, of which NASCAR 99 had virtually none of. I was not to be
too disappointed by EA's graphical performance. The cars are
nicely modeled although the reflection glare was a little too much.
Damage modeling was very well done as well. Rubbing up against
other cars will leave tire marks on your body paneling, rubbing the
track walls will leave paint on the walls, and accidents, of course,
will dent or break off pieces of your car. The stands modeling is
about average with your pixelated mess of spectators. The tracks
as a whole look nicely detailed though. What really stands out is
the pit crew. NASCAR 2/99 had sprite pit crews that didn't move. EA
goes all out here and we've got full-fledged polygon characters
that move and go through all the actions of changing tires, filling
the fuel tanks, etc. The animation is well done and really adds to
the experience of racing. I did experience some slowdown when
there was a big accident running at 800x600 on my TNT and PII
300, but other than huge accidents it ran very smoothly.
NASCAR Revolution is laced up nicely with speech. In
addition to the track spotter you had in NASCAR2, you also get
crew chief and commentary speech. EA usually goes for the
professionals when doing commentary and this is no exception.
NR gives you TV presentation by Bob Jenkins and Benny Parsons.
Engine audio is realistic enough, although it's rather hard to
emulate the sheer volume that would really be experienced at a
race. Bumping and grinding sounds quite realistic, although a very
minor bump sounds a little too loud (only two different types of
sounds, each with 5 different effects). The environmental sounds
are very few. You sometimes hear your opponents' cars when
they're next to you, but it's choppy and doesn't enhance the
experience. 3D audio support probably would have enhanced the
game greatly. CD audio is also included to give some background
music while going three wide at 180 mph.
Gameplay is actually rather good. It doesn't quite live up
to the realism level set by NASCAR 2 but it does do a decent job of
maintaining a high level. It also features similar settings for
adjusting the difficulty except it goes a little further that by setting
options certain ways, NR can actually be turned into more of a
viable arcade racer. Not exactly a DethKarz but nonetheless it's
not too shabby. When you configure it for a simulation mode it
does a good job as well, although the difficulty isn't as high as
NASCAR 2. The damage modeling was also a little strange.
Damaged tires didn't appear to make the car handle any different,
it just made the car drive significantly slower.
The AI in NR is VERY shaky. NR gets almost all of it's bad
marks due to this factor alone. During accidents, computer drivers
make absolutely no attempt to avoid other cars, resulting in yet
another accident. One time, I damaged my car on the second to
last lap so I thought I'd just drive slowly towards the finish line. I
was cruising around doing about 90 and I looked in my rear view
and saw the leaders coming up on me. I moved down to the inside
of the track on a straight-away to let the leaders go buy. One of
them moves down behind me and crashes right in to the backside
of my car. AI is also a concern for other reasons. Unlike NASCAR2,
the AI takes over during cautions, which in itself isn't a bad thing.
However, for some reason, it likes to slow down and then suddenly
speed up and ram my car into the car in front of it. Another
problem also stems from AI during cautions. When the restart
comes out, some of the cars just drive all over the road, hitting
OTHER cars causing yet another caution. (An accident only
happened once during this while I was playing, but the actual
"drunk" driving happened more than once).
NR also doesn't appear to follow the regular season
NASCAR schedule for some reason. I don't know why EA would
ditch that since NASCAR fans memorize dates and order of events.
(NASCAR fans are some of the most diehard sports fanatics alive) I
do realize that NR hacked out some of the real regular season
tracks, including DAYTONA! How could EA not get the most famous
NASCAR racetrack in the game? One other thing that bothered me
was during pit stops, you can only change ALL the tires or the right
side. No option for changing left side. In racing, the right side does
wear faster than the left, but if you damaged your left side tires,
you should be able to change just the left side.
The control, for the most part, is pretty good. I used my
Gravis Xterminator and it handled quite well. The car doesn't seem
to brake well all the time which can cause some problems trying
to avoid accidents and what not. It can easily be played from the
keyboard so most everyone can play it with little problem.
Multiplayer flops miserably in yet another EA title. This
time EA didn't even bother to put tcp/ip support in so the terrible
Internet multiplayer EA is infamous for can't even be attempted. It
does support IPX so it has some quality potential as a LAN based
game. If you're into LAN parties and want a more realistic driving
game, this only isn't too bad.
It's fun for a number of reasons. First, it's not as
complicated as previous games. Sure you can customize the car
setup to tweak out your car, but it's not all that crucial. It's not quite
the sim NASCAR2 is, so sim fans might be disappointed, but not too
badly. Except for the AI glitches (if you keep out of accidents,
you're fine) it's a decent sim. If you're more of an amateur simmer,
then it should suit you fine. It does a good job of making a
good-looking NASCAR themed game that isn't too difficult and is
entertaining. Multiplayer lowers down the replay value a bit as
Overall, it's a decent, yet shaky racing simulation. Since
NASCAR sims are extremely limited and a truly "new" game hasn't
come out in years, it's definitely worth a look for someone who
likes NASCAR, likes racing sims, or wants a little bit more realistic
racer than Rollcage. I find it fun even with it's nuisances. It plays
well, looks nice, and is adequately entertaining.
Highs: Finally a good looking NASCAR sim
Lows: AI is very shaky, too much gloss on the cars,
seasons aren't based on real NASCAR
Here is another racing game for those racing fans that haven’t
gotten enough this year. With EA having a reputation to produce
some of the best sports simulations around, I was expecting a lot
when I loaded up Nascar Revolution. Sadly, NR has several
problems that prevent it from becoming a gaming classic.
The graphics of this title were nothing short of amazing,
with the nice smoking tires and rendered pit crew adding a lot to
the environment. One thing that really irked me was that when I
finished a race I noticed a ridiculously exaggerated high gloss
finish on each car. I have never seen any wax or paint give a car
a finish that looked like that oil slick monster in CreepShow 2.
Overall, the quality of graphics rivals any racer; however, the
extremely high system requirements prevented me from getting an
adequate frame rate. I have a voodoo2 12 Meg card and noticed a
definite slowdown even with the resolution set at 640x480. Maybe
the mean oil slick monster engulfing each car had something to do
with that. Ok, enough joking, graphics are very outstanding.
The sound was a little disappointing. I have been to
Talledega to see that famous hick magnet of a race, and believe
me, real engines have a much higher pitched sound than the bass
engines of this game. I didn’t listen to the game’s speech or
music, thus I cannot comment on this aspect of the sound. Overall,
I would have enjoyed slightly better engine sounds than the ones I
heard while playing.
The gameplay was a mixture of both arcade and
simulation. You can select numerous options that best fit your own
style from the options menu. You can customize the total
horsepower of your car and opponent difficulty. It also included
the usual manual/automatic transmission selection for those
people that want as little or as much realism as possible when
racing. Selecting your car is also a treat because it includes all
the drivers from the actual Nascar circuit, including such famous
names as Dick Trickle, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhart. I thought
that was a very nice touch on EA’s part to have real pros included
instead of having to race with a number 3 car driven by "Fale
Gernhart". Most games out there seem to just rename the drivers
so that they don’t have to spend money on the license. Here,
however, is the most ridiculous part of the entire game. The
CRASHES. I have never seen crashed cars go airborne like the NR
cars. I had a wreck at the start of a race on a sharp corner and
proceeded to flip end-over-end for maybe 400 or so yards. That
may not seem too strange to racing fans, but this kind of wreck
seems to be the norm instead of the exception. Or how about
when a small pile-up knocks 30 cars out of the race. The
computer-controlled cars just seemed to freeze momentarily, like a
deer in a headlight when a crash occurred in front of them, and
strangely believed that they could just plow through the wreck and
make it to the other side with little or no damage. Wrecks need to
be a part of a racing game but should not play such MAJOR role in
the race. I saw four wrecks in a period of two laps at one point.
Sadly, this is where the game lost my interest. Wrecking my way
around the track isn’t a whole helluva lot of fun, especially when I
am not at fault as the case usually is. EA, please change your AI to
stop crashes from occurring every single lap.
I actually found this game fun for a little while and an
avid race fan may really enjoy this title for much longer since it
does have all the cars and names of the Nascar circuit. However,
the AI problems and the computer controlled pit-stop system may
deter most of you out there away from the game. When you come
into the pit, the computer takes control of the car and you are
allowed to select options like to fill up your gas tank, or to change
the tires, but the steering and engine are still controlled by the
CPU. I believe that with a little more tweaking, this game could
have been very nice. Hopefully, Nascar Revolution 2000 will
correct some of these glaring errors.
I didn’t try multiplayer directly because my modem
doesn’t seem to even like to download text files, much less an
online game. The one glaring problem is that EA has a habit of
leaving out TCP/IP as one of the multiplayer options. EA, please
hire a TCP/IP programmer for 150k a year and get this problem
fixed. You haven’t put it in FIFA99 or NHL99 and now you omitted
it from this game as well. IPX/SPX is great for those nice NetWare
LANs that so many people run nowadays (Grin), but serial
connection or direct modem connection just doesn’t cut it
anymore. Chant with me people, TCP/IP! TCP/IP! TCP/IP!!!
Another average racing game comes to the PC. My
suggestion is that you look the other way, unless you want to
experience another version of Nascar Racing. I do hear that
Nascar 99 from Sierra is vastly superior to this title, so I’ll play
something else until that comes out.