SYSTEM
PSX

PRICE
$39.99

DEVELOPER
EA Sports

PUBLISHER
Electronic Arts

RELEASE
10/99

NASCAR 2000 Review

By: John Doe


I've always avoided Nascar games and F1 games because of the track design. Who wants to drive in an oval for an entire game? Thanks to an attention span like that of a budgie; I just couldn't get into these games before. However, EA listened to the fans and now Nascar 2000 has a bunch of cool tracks for you to race. Many with right and left turns! Bonus! Fans will also love playing as their old time favorites and as new rookies Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.


Highs:
Lows:

Stock car racing is an acquired taste. You either love the challenge of the tight turns on a relatively short track or you don't. Fans who get into the realism of the game and like using the pit stop and fixing the damage on their cars, will get a lot out of this game. Personally, I have something better than a pit stop; I have a "quit race" button. If I'm racing that poorly that I need to waste valuable racing time in a pit stop then I'll just start again and do better next time. Sure that affects the reality of the game, but I was raised on Gran Turismo, Need for Speed and Ridge Racer. To me a pit stop is a bathroom break.

Right out of the starting gate, there are 24 tracks to select from (including 5 EA Fantasy tracks) and 34 real life drivers such as the Petty's and Labonte's. Your gaming options are simple: Choose from Quick Race (randomly selected tracks and cars), Single Race, Championship Season or Race Against the King (take on Richard Petty on 10 tracks from his career). While playing the Single Race Weekend, you have four options that will test your pedal mettle. These are: Practice (lets you test out the track and the car), Qualify (gives you a chance to earn a higher starting position so you aren't always in 16th place when you start), Happy Hour (another testing ground, this time against stiff competition) and of course, Race, which takes you to the big show.

A racing games success, comes down to control, track design, car physics and framerate. If these are in check, you've got a good game on your hands. Nascar 2000 won't win any awards in the graphics department but while the cars look pretty blocky, the framerate speeds along well, which I'll take over shiny graphics any day. Nascar 2000 gives you a decent amount of control over your vehicle. At the car setup menu you can adjust the following: Automatic/Manual Transmission, Downforce (increases grip of rear wheels), Oversteer, Tire Pressure and Gear Ratio. For best results, tinker with your vehicle for awhile and then you should be able to get the control just right for you. I prefer my vehicles with tight steering with a low center of gravity, just like a Toyota Celica, but you aren't gonna find one in this game... The track design is very good and the five new fantasy road tracks are excellent. They provide a lot of challenge due to their hairpin curves and more arcade style design.

Racing fanatics who like the idea of the pitstop will get off on the interactive one wating for you in Nascar 2000. You can now choose just exactly what the pit team will work on. Not only that, but you even get to a chance to hurry your wait along by playing a little button pressing game that flies by very quickly. Kind of like Parappa without music.

The AI is very aggressive and doesn't let you get away with any mistakes. If you aren't comfortable with the tracks or your vehicle control, you won't walk away a winner. Nascar 2000 provides a plethora of options so that you can fine-tune your performance so practice, tinker and practice again. My one piece of advice? Don't just rush into a race. Take time to qualify so that you earn a higher starting position. It will make the world of difference.

Playing against a friend will even the score a little bit. The two player game is very good. Each player can see enough of the screen at one time and there are very little draw in surprises, except on a couple of the fantasy tracks. If you become familiar with the tracks in one player mode than the pop in won't have any adverse affect on your two player game.

Sound wise, Nascar provides some nice touches. You can hear the comments of your team crackle through your headset, while the race commentary provides the necessary position information. After awhile though the team comments become annoying and of little use. I can only be asked, "How you doin'?" so many times and then I become violent. Couple that with 800 "Watch your brakes" and you'll be experiencing some virtual road rage of your own. The roar of the engines are done well and you will notice the timing of the engine changes if you tinker with the gear ratio.

Compared to past installments, Nascar 2000 gets a lot of things right. I love the amount of control over the vehicles handling as well as the plethora of options concerning the various races. This feels like an arcade racer with Nascar roots and that goes along way with me. If you have avoided the previous Nascar games from EA in the past, I highly recommend you take a closer look at this installment. As mentioned you'll need to spend some time on your vehicle to get that "just right" feeling, but believe me it's worth it. Take advantage of all of the options that Nascar 2000 provides you and take it for a test drive. You will be pleasantly surprised.

OVERALL
8.5

GRAPHICS
8.0

CONTROL
8.5

MUSIC/FX
7.5

FRUSTRATION
5.0

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