|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Tiburon||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 10, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
One big issue with the visuals however, had to be the numerous glitches in the title. One glitch occurred several times, particularly during season mode, involved collisions. Two or more cars would collide and this would result in a few flipping over and spinning. However, sometimes these cars would just reset themselves from their demolished state. It might be a relatively minor glitch, but the fact that it happened more than once (not to mention it gives the A.I. an unfair advantage) is definitely worth noting.
Control is handled in this title in a very interesting way. At the very beginning of the game you are given the option to control the game using Normal or Pro settings. You can try them out before you decide, and the Pro controls feel more like sim-style controls while the Normal controls represent a more arcade-style scheme. However, both of these control schemes feel a little imperfect. The Pro controls may require precision driving and attention to race lines, but compared to other simulation experiences, they are quite lax, and the experienced simulation driver will find little or no challenge with these controls. The Normal controls are definitely easier to manage than the Pro controls, but I still find these to be a little too forgiving, even by arcade standards. For instance, on the Daytona speedway you are able to take the curves at over 180 MPH with little or no repercussions, no matter whether you are using the Pro or Normal style controls. The controls here definitely make a good attempt at creating divergent control schemes and they both work well, but there are several points upon which both control schemes could have been improved.
Sound in this title is very good, especially in the music department. The EA/Tiburon sports games have always featured stellar soundtracks, and NASCAR 09 is no exception. Interestingly enough, the music has a very interesting mixture of alternative rock with bands like AFI and P.O.D., and country music with songs by Christian Kane and The Parks. You wouldn't think these two genres would work well shuffled together over a NASCAR title, but somehow the music really fits the racing, and it all sounds great. Vehicle sound effects are pretty good in this title, but the engine noise can wear on your nerves just a little, especially during those long season races. Luckily, you can turn these noises down (or off completely). So, if you don't like them, it's not a real problem.
Overall, NASCAR 09 is a fairly safe bet for anyone who likes the world of NASCAR. It has plenty of star power and lots of different ways to play. However, it doesn't really have much in the way of innovative automotive gameplay, which really hinders it from being a must-own title. With games like GRID shaking up the automotive genre and Gran Turismo 5 just on the horizon, the NASCAR series definitely needs to get in gear (no pun intended) and ramp up on some new and interesting racing mechanics to catch up to the emerging elite class of automotive games. Otherwise, it may be in for a black flag.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer