NASCAR 2000

a game by Electronic Arts, and Stormfront Studios

Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64

Genre: Racing

See also:Championship Games, NASCAR Games

For some reason, NASCAR racing is one of the most popular "sports" going these days. I understand that it ranks right up there with the "sport" of professional wrestling. To the credit of NASCAR racing, at least it is real. I still have never understood the draw of watching cars drive around in circles. Okay, maybe if you are actually at the race it could be mildly entertaining but watching it on television just has no appeal for me. EA Sports has put out a few versions of NASCAR racing so I decided it was time that I try one out. It did not take me long to realize that playing this type of game is about as fun for me as watching the real thing. Buy hey, these games sell so I can't blame EA Sports for pumping them out.

Being a self proclaimed NASCAR idiot, a lot of the terms and features were foreign to me. I do know that the game sports real drivers in their actual vehicles to the tune of 33 current drivers and seven legend drivers. The manual also tells me that there are 18 licensed NASCAR tracks, so who I am to argue this? There are plenty of car and race configuration options to be had but they all amount to a type of racing that I find unexciting as well as giving me a sore thumb.

Gameplay

I know this may be hard to believe but I really tried to go into this game with an open mind. Just because I don't enjoy watching this type of racing does not mean that I would not enjoy playing the game. I mean look at hockey. I hate watching hockey but I really enjoy playing the games. Would NASCAR be the same? Nope. I just found this game to be boring, repetitive, ugly and not much fun. If this is what NASCAR racing is all about, I will take a life-long pass on it.

I guess if you are a fan of this type of racing, the positives have to be in the number of options available. First, there are a ton of drivers to choose from. I am sure all of your favorites are in here. I can only trust that the manual is correct when it says that all 33 of the drivers are included since I don't actually know if they are real or not. I do recognize a lot of the names though.

Another thing that will make NASCAR fans happy is that all of the tracks on the 1999 NASCAR circuit are available to race. I am not sure if there are 18 or 19 tracks on the circuit because the box says 18 and the manual says 19, so I am not entirely sure which is the actual number. Regardless, there are plenty of tracks to choose from. They range from ovals to ovals. Okay, there are a few courses that are not just ovals but most of them are. There are oblong ovals and even a rounded rectangle track. They all amount to turning left constantly to the point of causing a sore thumb from the control stick.

The last thing that fans should enjoy is the amount of customization available to the cars. You can adjust just about everything and I really liked the visual display of how each change affects the performance of the car. In some games, you just have to guess but this one gives you are great idea of what your modification is effecting. Considering that fact that I am a true rookie at this, I have no idea what the down force effects so it was a big help to see the lines change when I altered these options. In case you are wondering what all you can change, there is the rear spoiler, wedge, tire pressure, and gear ratios. Each of these has different effects on the car. I just did not have the patience to tweak each of these options to get the optimal performance so maybe that is why I did not enjoy this game very much.

As I was putting together my notes before writing this review, I just could not think of anything that was terrible wrong with this game (maybe the graphics but we will get to that in a minute). Normally when I come across a game that I don't like, I usually have plenty of reasons for ripping it apart. That is not the case with NASCAR 2000. I guess all I can say is that I just found the game to be boring and repetitive and not my style of racing. This is not a game for the mainstream racing fan. I just don't now what else to say.

Graphics

Don't let the slick pictures on the box fool you. The graphics in this game are very sparse, plain, and just boring. It looks more like a first generation Playstation game, not a second-generation N64 game. I know that I have been hard on the N64 in general but there are some decent looking games available and this is not one of them. I guess more time was spent on the gameplay than worrying about graphics. Then again, how much time needs to be spent on making a game that consists of driving in circles? Oh yeah, one more thing. Did the announcers only record three different audio bites? Because they seem to say the same thing over and over again.

Bottom Line

This is not my type of racing, period. I did not enjoy it at all. I really tried to give it a fair shake but I just could not get into it. I guess the game has some options that might make it more appealing to fans of NASCAR but I still think the plain graphics will be a turn off to most gamers. I prefer games that offer more variety and excitement over repetition and patience. To me, racing should not be about patience. I guess the bottom line is that if you are not a fan of NASCAR, stay far away. If you are a fan, I suggest renting first to see if you like it.

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