NASCAR 2000

a game by Electronic Arts, and Stormfront Studios

Platforms: PSXNintendo 64Nintendo 64

Genre: Racing

See also: Championship Games, NASCAR Games, Car 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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NASCAR 2000 Downloads

NASCAR 2000 download

Overview

Gentlemen, start your engines! EA Sports is back with their latest NASCAR racing version, NASCAR 2000, that will keep your hands glued to the wheel as you race against NASCAR’s finest in one of the most realistic NASCAR racing games to date. All of the biggest and best are here, with most of the drivers, teams, cars, and tracks that you will see on the real NASCAR circuit. NASCAR 2000 adds new drivers such as Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and David Pearson to the lineup to race against such veteran stars as Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett and the Labonte brothers. There are 18 real tracks recreated with more realism than ever before on your Sony Playstation. In addition to the real tracks, EA Sports has added five fantasy tracks to further challenge your racing skills. You can race an entire championship season or go against human or computer opponents with several different options.

Gameplay

The crew at EA Sports really worked hard to make this latest NASCAR racing game as realistic as possible, with plenty of details, realistic car physics, and settings to tweak your car with the exact performance characteristics you desire. You can adjust such settings as downforce, oversteer, tire pressure, gear ratio, rear spoiler angles, shock stiffness, and weight distribution; adjusting these settings can usually be a trade-off between increasing one performance characteristic while decreasing another. For example, if you increase your angle of attack on your rear spoiler, you will greatly enhance your handling through the corners, but will sacrifice some of your top speed. It’s up to you to decide just how much of each setting you want to adjust. If you pick the right balance, you just might have that extra edge needed to pull ahead of the pack and win more races.

You can also select several other options to further enhance the action, such as deciding whether or not you want to use pit stops, warning flags, or allow the cars to be affected by realistic damage and breakdowns. There are four different situations where you will need to use a pit stop: low fuel, worn tires, poor handling, and damage. As you move through the race, your crew chief will call you on the radio and let you know when you need to take a pit stop. He will also give you pointers to help improve your performance, such as hints on how to save your tires and how to avoid collisions with other cars on the track. When you reach the pits, you have the control to decide which things you want attention paid to and you can also decide what can be ignored. You can even shorten your pit stop by selecting the right "hot" keys that are flashing on your screen. It’s almost like another little game added in there to challenge you and give you an edge in the pits.

If you choose to race in the Championship Season, you will compete in a series of 19 races that will establish the top driver on the circuit. You will probably need to use a memory card to store your racing progress as you go, unless of course you have the time to sit there and race through 19 races. You can even select the number of laps per race, from the full amount that can be several hundred laps or go with an abbreviated race that can consist of as few as three laps. The winner of each race receives 175 points. For each subsequent finishing spot the driver earns a lower point total. Also, each driver who leads the race for at least one lap receives five bonus points and the driver who leads the most laps during a race receives five points too. If you are really into NASCAR, you can spend hours playing in this mode.

One of the great features of this game is that you can hook up one of eight different driving wheels to your Playstation to further enhance NASCAR 2000’s realism. Another bonus is the cool soundtrack they’ve added to the game. I thought the music was quite well done and with the added commentaries from announcers Bob Jenkins and Benny Parsons, you’ll more like you are a part of the action than ever before. Some of their comments are pretty funny too, especially when someone gets into a crash or does something stupid. You might find some of the commentary to be a bit repetitive and if that’s the case you can simply turn down the announcer volume and crank up the tunes!

The feel of this game is better than many racing games I have played in the past, with many realistic characteristics of the genuine thing such as crashes, spin-outs and accurate duplication of the actual track layouts. The controller sensitivity is also quite good and does not throw out too many surprises. The controller will usually do exactly what you want it to, with just a bit of practice. You will need to stay on your toes to keep ahead in this game. One false move can put you in the grass in a cloud of dust and smoke. The cars' tires will even leave skid marks on the track, which is an interesting feature not seen in too many racing games. You can also play in the "Race Against The King" mode, where it's just you and the one and only Richard Petty, NASCAR’s all-time greatest driver. I found beating him to be rather easy though, so don’t look for much of a challenge here. You’ll probably find the one on one race against a human opponent to be the most challenging, followed by the Championship Season mode.

Graphics

One of the biggest changes you’ll see in this latest version of NASCAR racing for the Playstation is in the graphics. EA Sports has put together new hi-resolution graphics that are really quite good for a Playstation system. The background details, scenery, and graphics are much more detailed than most Playstation racing games I’ve seen before and the extra work EA Sports has put into this game’s graphics has really paid off. The cars look much better than previous versions and aren’t quite so blocky. You can also make out more details in the crowd, such as people, advertising signs, and other background details like clouds that are much more realistic than ever before.

Bottom Line

The main differences between this game and the previous NASCAR 99 version are the improved graphics, updated physics, and more realistic feel and control in addition to the updated roster. This game is a lot of fun and is sure to please NASCAR racing fans of all ages. With plenty of options and racing modes, it is sure to keep your attention for quite awhile too. If you’re into racing games, this one is a safe buy and will not disappoint you.

reggie posted a review
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