There are very few racing simulations on the Saturn and even less good ones. Adding a much-needed title into this genre is NASCAR 98, EA's very competent simulation. Fully licensed, NASCAR 98 features all of the tracks, drivers and cars present in the sport. There's even the unstoppable commentator, Bob Jenkins, who gives you the lowdown on each track's nuances. This is one of the more entertaining racing simulations because the game-play is as good as its attention to realism. Sure, you can adjust your car's rear spoiler and gear ratios, but it's also a lot of fun to wedge your way in a pack of cars, and be one of the few that doesn't slam into the wall. You can even rub 'em into the wall, and see the grueling after effects on each car's chassis. The 3-D graphics are good, and look better when a lot of cars are on screen. There is some polygonal pop-up, but most of it consists of track details on the side of the road. Occasionally some of the bends of the track in the distance will also instantly appear. The sound effects are average, but the country rock music played during the game is funny--and annoying. It does suit NASCAR racing, but this is a classic example of overdoing the game's atmosphere. Though it's not as fun as arcade racers such as Sega Rally or Daytona, NASCAR 98 is the best racing simulation on the Saturn.
NASCAR 98 for the Saturn is an above average racer, but it's certainly not without its flaws. There's a lot of pop-up during play, the frame rate is less than stellar, and the grating music will make your ears bleed. If you can put all that aside however, the gameplay is solid, and there are a lot of tracks, cars and options to keep the sim fans satisfied. Personally, despite the lack of depth when compared to NASCAR 98, I'd rather play Daytona USA.
Now I know what many of you might say to the score being a half of a point lower than the PlayStation version (see issue 100), but hear me out before you jump to any conclusions. The one single thing that made me drop the score was the annoying pop-up. As you drive around the various courses, some have major pop-up problems. Other than that, the graphics are a tad blockier, but not really bad enough to affect the gameplay.
You don't have to be a fan of NASCAR to enjoy this game. I don't follow the sport, but I can appreciate alt the good things EA did with this game. Graphics-wise, NASCAR 98 is as clean as a whistle, and the racing action is hot and heavy with plenty of on-track adversaries to deal with. True to the sport, drafting is a key to success in NASCAR 98, and it's done in a way that makes it fun. This isn't a hardcore sim like Fi, but I like it nonetheless.
Download NASCAR 98
With stock car racing becoming more and more popular, it's only natural that gamers would want a console equivalent to create their own racing excitement. EA answers that call with what looks to be this season's front runner-NASCAR 98.
Looking reminiscent of the stock car portion of last year's Andretti Racing (also by EA). NASCAR 98 is fortified with 24 officially licensed drivers and their brightly colored cars. Eleven of the 17 tracks are licensed including standbys like Darlington. Sears Point and several others. Some hidden tracks are included as well.
Created by Stormfront (the same guys who did Andretti Racing), it's a pretty good bet that this sim will be just as fun to play as Andretti. In fact, with options such as weather variants, adjustable vehicle physics, real motor sound and individualized driver Al. NASCAR 98 may be even better. Another improvement over Andretti Racing will be the option of having several other cars included in a two-player duel.
Even at this stage of development, NASCAR 98 looks like a great sim.
- MANUFACTURER - EA
- THEME - Racing
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2
Following its success with last year's Andretti Racing, EA has focused in on just stock car racing with NASCAR '98. Even from this unfinished version, it's already clear that EA has another superb title headed for the starting line. Complemented by solid options and slick graphics. NASCAR's gameplay brings to life the bump-n-run thrills of the real-life NASCAR circuit. It's definitely technical racing all the way, but the tight, fully customizable A.I., gripping two-player action, killer licenses, and more make for a package that race fans won't want to miss.
On the features side, NASCAR runs through the gears in Single Race or Season modes on nine road tracks and eight ovals. Gamers pick from 24 NASCAR drivers and cars, including greats like Jeff Gordon and Terry Labonte, and they all drive with the skills and traits of their real-life counterparts.
The creators of the outstanding Andretti Racing head for the NASCAR circuit with souped-up gameplay and graphics in a game that could turn out to be the race of the year.
Graphics & Sounds
Visually, NASCAR '98's cars look gorgeous, sporting smooth polygons and all the real-life paint jobs and ads. EA Sports also promised that these races will have much better load times than Andretti Racing's and will move along at a "lightning-fast" clip. As for sounds, TV commentator Bob Jenkins sets up each season race and calls the action. The NASCAR team also took recordings inside cars during races and alongside the track, so the sound effects should llat-out roar.
With the NASCAR license locked up. NASCAR '98 will gun its engines with 24 real-life cars and drivers per race, including the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, and Jeff Gordon. The rubber will bum on 17 tracks--three licensed road courses, eight licensed ovals, and six fantasy tracks packed with tougher turns. The one-or two-player split-screen action goes down in Practice, Single Race, and Season modes, and of course you can tune your car's downforce, tire pressure, and more. Track telemetry readings even rate your performance, so you can tweak your turning style and car setup to optimize your race.
Striving to capture the NASCAR experience, the gameplay will involve a lot of bump-n-mn action on tracks wide enough to lit four cars abreast. Smart drafting and pit stops will also be a crucial part of winning. Finally, each CPU racer will also have its own independent A.1., giving each car its own traits so the pack won't behave identically.
A line successor to Andretti Racing, NASCAR '98 roars past the PlayStation pack with its quality design and high-octane gameplay. While it's far from a perfect game, its negligible flaws won't prevent this outstanding racer from finding a parking spot in the winner's circle.
Gamers slide in behind the wheel with one of 24 pro drivers (Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Ernie Irvan, and the like) and lay rubber on 17 tracks, including 11 real-life courses like Sears Point and Bristol and fantasy road courses. NASCAR's strong list of features continues with full-season action, two-player split-screen mayhem, and thorough A.I.-cuslomizalion and car-setup options. The absence of a create-a-drivcr feature, however, is truly a disgrace.
Days of Thunder
When it comes to gameplay, NASCAR flat-out rocks. Pure arcade racers of the Ridge Racer variety will he in over their heads, but if you don't mind a little depth. NASCAR delivers high-quality bump-n-run racing, and the nerve-jangling two-player matches only complete this sweet package. Adding to the realism, car setup is as important as driving skill, so be prepared to spend lime in the Practice mode before each race, perfecting your car's performance.
The slick controls never abandon you, providing edgy but realistic handling and nice touches like a drafting meter and a rearview mirror. You'll need some practice laps to learn to hold a line at high speeds, but that's all part of the fun.
Graphically, NASCAR's superior to Andretti in every way, showcasing beautifully detailed cars and courses. The tracks suffer from annoying draw-in problems, but they irritate without interfering. On the sound side, the ear-numbing engine roars and tire shrieks glue you to the wheel, but the unintelligible pit radio ;md sparse commentary' earn a yellow Hag.
The popularity of NASCAR racing has mushroomed--it's now rivaled only by the NFL--and this game's powerful combination of sleek graphics, detailed features, and fender-crumpling action will satis any serious race fan. With Formula 1 Championship Edition and CART World Series on the horizon, this Fall's going to be a line season for sport racing, but the competition's going to have to record some outstanding lap times to keep pace with NASCAR '98.
- Ram opponents with abandon to hold a lead or to pass. If some one's coming up on the outside, take them into the wall. If you're behind, rear-end them in a turn to shove them out of the way.
- Outhraking is another effective passing technique--take the inside line on a turn, and brake as late as possible to slip in front.
- If your tires screech more than once in a turn, you're about to lose traction and spin out. Back off the gas and loosen up the turn as much as you can.
- When qualifying, push your car setup to the limit (max tire pressure, as little downforce as possible, and so on), but when racing, haul the settings back a notch or two toward the safer side.
- Sit tight on a lead car's bumper until your draft meter is full, then swing out and slingshot by.
Slap on your racing gear and strap in for EA Sport's NASCAR 98. NASCAR is an extremely popular sport and racing is an extremely popular genre so it only makes sense to marry the two on the gray box.
We are talking 24 actual NASCAR drivers at your beckoning call. Unlike the other NASCAR title available for PSX, you can actually race as one of these drivers. All the big names are here, and the game is packed with options. Get ready to start your engines (sorry for that tired cliche) and hit the pavement full speed ahead.
NASCAR 98 is packed with options and customization. Probably the most important option is the ability to select the race's length. You can choose anywhere from three percent to 100 percent of an actual NASCAR race. If you have never watched a NASCAR race from beginning to end, let's just say that it will take up most of your day. Try playing a game for that long.
You also have the ability to turn on damage to cars, so if you like to race where contact really counts, this is the setting for you. The other important options available are the physics and AI settings. This is where you can set up the game as a true simulation, arcade or anything in between. You can also set your opponent's strength from 75 percent to 115 percent. If you want to really change the outcome of the races, start messing with this number. I found that early in my career, setting the number below 100 percent would keep me competitive in races. After I started winning every race, I kicked the number up a bit. This always kept the competition level at its peak. I did find the oval tracks a bit easier so I would keep the difficulty cranked up a bit more than with the road tracks.
Normally, the controller is secondary to gameplay. In the case of NASCAR 98, a regular controller is acceptable, but the real fun comes when using a steering wheel. You have the ability to adjust your drafting effects, horsepower, balance and steering. Hell, you are your own pit crew chief, so you can tinker away to your heart's content. To really get the full effect out of the changes, a steering wheel is almost mandatory.
As far as tracks go, you have the choice of 17 total. There are eight oval courses and nine road courses. Some of the tracks are modeled after real tracks while others are fictitious. Like I mentioned above, the oval tracks are the easiest to learn and best for beginners. Once you get a feel for the controls and different cars, you will really test your skill against some of the turn-infested road courses. These require more discipline and a strong stomach for contact on the corners.
The game also offers a variety of play modes but I enjoyed the championship mode the best. This pits you against 23 other drivers throughout a season. The game keeps track of your position throughout the season as well as keeping stats. Everything is saved on a memory card (as usual) so you can play your way through the season to see how you would stack up against the cream of the crop.
The game does have a couple of small weaknesses. The steering does not seem to respond as tightly as you may wish, but it is fairly realistic. Another flaw is that during a longer race, you can't pit under a yellow flag, which is a major advantage or move in real NASCAR racing. Also, the computer takes control of your car under a yellow flag and in the pit area. It definitely would have been nice to have total control of your car at all times.
The graphics are pretty good for this type of game. At first I was really not all that impressed with them, but after playing for a bit, they really started to grow on me. The cars were fairly detailed looking and the tracks were all well-done. The occasional break-up did rear its ugly head, but no worse than most games.
The gameplay is challenging and at the same time entertaining. It is fun to bump Dale Jarrett or race past Mark Martin. You really don't have to be a NASCAR fan to enjoy the game. One word of caution, though: the music is serious Southern rock and be prepared for the likes of Molly Hatchett's "Flirting with Disaster." Let's face it, NASCAR is big time in the South, so the music is a good fit. This game is good enough that National Sports talk god Jim Rome might even give it some props. Right... Neckcar 98! Out!
Snapshots and Media
- CART Precision Racing
- Cart World Series
- F1 World Grand Prix
- Formula 1
- Formula 1 98
- Forza Motorsport
- Gran Turismo
- Gran Turismo 2
- Gran Turismo 2000
- Metropolis Street Racer
- Need For Speed 3
- Sega GT
- Test Drive 5
- Touring Car Challenge TOCA 2
- Tourist Trophy: The Real Riding Simulator
- EA Sports F1 2001
- F1 2000
- Formula One Grand Prix 2
- NASCAR 98 Collector's Edition
- Official Formula One Racing