NASCAR 99

a game by Electronic Arts, Stormfront Studios, EA Sports, and EA Games
Genre: Racing
Platforms: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64, Playstation, PSX
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 13 reviews
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 1 vote
Rate this game:
See also: NASCAR Games, Car Games
NASCAR 99
NASCAR 99
NASCAR 99
NASCAR 99

EA's NASCAR has gone through a lot of changes. Most notably a new physics model, motor sounds and several more car setup options. At this point we could make an argument for the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy but we'll keep our fingers crossed.

While we're missing the throaty roar of the sampled motor sound (used in NASCAR 98), the new artificial motor sounds have an interesting bellow as well. New eye candy includes night races and lots of dynamic lighting and shadowing effects (used mostly on the cars). Also noteworthy are the changes in the racing gameplay. The ability to pressurize all four tires differently as well as adjust torsion bars, air foils and individual shocks creates quite a variety of pre-race setups. As a result of the modifications, the cars tend to jostle and swing a lot more than they did last year.

As for the tracks, Indy has been added as have night races at Charlotte and Bristol. Otherwise look for the standards--Daytona, Texas, Sears Point, etc. For the nostalgic fan, past greats Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Davey Allison and Benny Parsons will be available to race.

Look for a head-to-head comparison of NASCAR 99 and its N64 counterpart when the two are released in September.

  • MANUFACTURER - Stormfront
  • THEME - Racing
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2

Download NASCAR 99

Nintendo 64

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Playstation

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

PSX

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

People say:

7

I was (and still am) a big fan of NASCAR 98. ' The great gameplay and realistic vehicle physics are really nice, not to mention the awesome authentic motor sounds. That's why I'm sorry to report NASCAR 99 has a slightly less desirable personality than its predecessor. Right off the bat, the graphics look a little washed-out and a bit on the sparse side. Little things like chunky shadow effects and one-color track surfaces bring down the aesthetics somewhat. Granted it's not bad but normally I expect sequels to look better than their previous editions, especially when it's from EA. My other big complaint--the wimpy motor sounds. The cars sound like a lot less than the 700-horsepower monsters they are. This is especially disappointing since NASCAR 98 had such good sound. On the brighter side, lots of new car mods and a few extra tracks add some depth to the game. Although I don't think some of them (like "weight jacking") do a whole lot. Bottom line--I would rather play last year's edition of NASCAR. It just feels more authentic and playable to me. This version tries too hard to be in-depth and sim-like and, in the end, doesn't pull it off too well. It's still a decent racer, especially when using the in-car view, but I wish EA would've kept it more basic with more emphasis on the gameplay. Gameplay is everything!!

5

I took on this review to see if NASCAR 99 would appeal to a NASCAR newbie like myself. Well, it doesn't. Sure, the game nearly overloads you with ways to modify your car, but I never really noticed any significant changes to my performance, despite my tweaking. The graphics are only so-so. And the Two-player Mode fails to deliver a sense of speed (the scenery crawls by like you're doing 35 instead of 180 mph).

6

Round and round and round and round. Broom, broom, vroom. I love cars and I love racing, but the harder developers try to produce "authentic" NASCAR simulations, the less fun they get. As a "real" sport it's very competitive, but this really isn't conveyed well in the game. The presentation is up to EA's usual standards, but to me it's just so dull I go into a weird kind of trance as the race drags on and on and on.

5

As I've said before, I'm not in the least bit interested in real NASCAR racing, but usually I dig the home versions (as was the case with this year's N64 NASCAR 99). Unfortunately, I can't say I'm all that hot on NASCAR 99 for the PS. The game is loaded with options and features, but the graphics are yucky and the game speed just crawls. 160 mph in NASCAR 99 feels more like 40 mph. Unless you're a big NASCAR fan, definitely pass.

In its sophomore season, NASCAR '99 once again delivers a high-octane racing experience. Despite some quirky shortcomings, its bumper-bashing action sports enough polish and depth to thrill generic race fans and the NASCAR faithful alike.

Qualifies Well

NASCAR '99 rolls out of the garage with a strong lineup of features. Gamers choose from 31 current NASCAR drivers and 17 real-life tracks, all backed by a much more detailed car-setup system than NASCAR '98 had. Other important features include tight two-player split-screen competition. night racing, season action, and a best-line option--but the game has one disgraceful shortcoming: no create-a-driver feature. For many, the biggest thrills would've come from seeing themselves in the game tak-ing Jeff Gordon into the wall, not just merely racing as Jeff Gordon.

Fortunately, the kick-ass gameplay will command your attention. The cars handle beautifully, and the pack puts up a tough fight all the way to the finish. NASCAR '99 also supplies an awesome difficulty-setting configuration, which lets you tunc four gameplay factors to make the race as arcade-style or as sim-style as you prefer. And pit-crew wannabes won't be disappointed: True to the real-life NASCAR circuit, a huge part of success comes from properly setting up your car before each race.

Responsive controls, espedaily when using the Dual Shock analog stick, keep you right in the thick of the race. But again, there's one seriously lame shortcoming: no rearview mirror or look-back button, which leaves you blind to what's going on behind you. Hello?

Podium Finish

Visually, NASCAR '99 improves upon its predecessor in all the right ways. The significant draw-in problems of NASCAR '98 have been almost entirely smoothed over, and pop-up is rarely noticeable. The game's good sensation of speed, realistic courses, and slick, well-detailed cars really make for a fine day at the track.

On the sound side, famous racing commentators Bob Jenkins and Benny Parsons call the action, yet, while their appeal is undeniable, their comments quickly grow repetitive. Luckily, the helpful crew chief makes up a lot of ground, chiming in with good advice. Cool engine rumbles and other solid in-race sound effects round things out.

Race Wrap-Up

While the series still has plenty of room to improve, NASCAR '99 ranks as one of the year's leading racing games (Gran Turismo still holds top honors). If you're choosing between the PlayStation and N64 versions, the PlayStation game easily takes the pole--though not by a huge margin. All told, race fans in general and NASCAR fans in particular won't go wrong peeling out of pit row with this title.

ProTips:

  • To qualify at the front of the pack, set up your car so that it runs so fast you can barely hang on. For the race, though, increase the handling a little so you can maneuver better with a crowd on the track.
  • To execute precision turns on ovals, let up on the gas and brake before the turn, then stay off the gas until you feel you can hold your line through the rest of the turn. If you start pushing up toward the wall, you'll generally get a better response by pumping the brakes (tap the Brake button) than you will by standing on them.
  • Drafting gains serious ground, especially on straightaways. Tuck in behind someone's bumper 'til you're about to ram them, then swerve out and slingshot past them.
  • When gaining on someone, vour crew chief will tell you to pass high if there are cars low (and vice versa). But if you have the lead and he tells you to stay high, it means someone's about to pass you low--and it's often a good idea to dive down and block them out.
  • If someone's trying to pass you, don't be polite and let them blast on by; instead, ram them into the wall or nudge them off the track.

In its rookie season on the N64 circuit, NASCAR '99 turns in a solid performance with well-tuned graphics and gameplay. While run-of-the-mill race fans may prefer more accessible titles like SF Rush, the stock-car racing crowd will find a lot to like about this title.

Green Flag

NASCAR '99 starts out strong with an ample but standard lineup of features. Gamers choose from 31 current drivers (like Earnhardt, Gordon, Jarrett, and company) or 6 legendary drivers (like Richard Petty or Benny Parsons), then get down to business on 17 real-life tracks: Sears Point, Watkins Glen, and 15 ovals that range from Atlanta to Talladega. While key features such as analog steering, two-player split-k screen action, and night rac-Dl ing score big, the game has two shameful shortcomings. The complete lack of both a create-a-driver option and a rearview mirror or look-back button are huge letdowns.

As for the remaining features, the car-setup options, where you tune your gear ratios, tire pressure, and so on, are limited but work just fine. Moreover, the game's innovative Physics/A.I. Settings menu is way cool. It basically lets you minutely adjust the game's difficulty and realism in great detail, so you can race a wild arcade-style ramfest or get into a hardcore nuts-and-bolts simulation. Tight controls, especially the responsive analog steering, provide a firm foundation.

White Flag

Visually, NASCAR pleases the crowd with awesome cars loaded with all the logos, cool lighting, and plenty of detail-cars even crumple and shed parts during collisions. The frame rate's fast enough to deliver tight action, but occasional pop-up problems and bland, under-detailed tracks put a slight damper on the show. As for sounds, the cars growl and rumble with authentic engine effects that change depending if your view's from the cockpit or behind the bumper. Unfortunately, though, some of the sounds, like scraping against the wall, along with the chatter from the announcer and your crew chief, repeat so often they quickly become annoying.

Checkered Flag

All told, NASCAR redlines the thrills with quality stock-car action. Rookies will delight in the wild, bumper-grinding arcade side, while pros who dig sim racing will face off against tough CPU cars that block passing lanes and take you into the wall. If you happen to have a PlayStation too, that version of NASCAR '99 does look more promising, but N64 drivers won't go wrong climbing in behind this wheel.

ProTips:

  • In turns on oval tracks, if you're trying to pass but you're blocked out of the preferred inside line, set up high before the exit of the turn and pass by cutting inside when the pack swings outside.
  • Avoid bumping other cars with your front fender--you're likely to blow a tire. Use the side of your car to knock opponents out of the way instead.
  • When you drive in Sim races qualifying and car setup are extremely important. If you want a chance of winning, practice until you've tuned your car and vour knowledge of the track so that you can qualify in the top five spots.
  • Drafting's a key part of passing, especially on tracks with fast straightaways. Tuck in behind an opponent until you have enough power to duck out of their slipstream, then go around 'em.

NASCAR's warming up for its second PlayStation season and its rookie N64 run, and both games seem headed for a top finish in their circuits.

Under the Hood

NASCAR '99 guns its engine with a strong lineup of features, including season action; 17 real-life circuit and road tracks; 31 current drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin; and old-timers like Richard Petty and Calc Yarborough. Disappointingly, though, the game still lacks the desperately needed create-a-driver feature.

PlayStation mechanics will delight in the much more comprehensive car-setup system, which lets them set tire pressure and shocks for each wheel, tune each gear, and more. N64 grease monkeys, however, have much fewer choices. Night driving, crew chief communications, and two-player split-screen racing round out the options in both versions, while on the sound Side, well-known NASCAR commentators Bob Jenkins and Benny Parsons call the action.

PlayStation vs. Nintendo 64

The PlayStation version definitely leans more toward the sim side, demanding a smarter approach to racing than even last year's game. Visually, it places well with slickly retooled car models that shower sparks during collisions, as well as more detailed tracks. On the N64 side. NASCAR makes a strong showing with a great sensation of breakneck speed, cool-looking cars, and decent tracks. The handling, while plenty realistic, is slightly more forgiving than the PlaySlat ion's--it has an almost arcade-ish feel at times.

After a championship run on the PlayStation last year, NASCAR '99 is revving up for an even stronger season--and its rookie year on the N64.

Rolling Start

The phenomenal rise in the popularity of stock-car racing means that EA Sports has a huge, ever growing audience of race fans dying for some NASCAR action--and they're taking advantage of it with N64 and PlayStation versions of NASCAR '99. While the N64 version remains under wraps at press time, the PlayStation version looks like it's heading for a promising season with a new physics model and an impressive jump in the number of drivers and tracks.

Racers can bump fenders on 18 tracks (including superspeedways, road courses, and short tracks) as one of 31 drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin. Dick Trickle, Terry Labonte, Ricky Rudd, to name just a few. Longtime race buffs will delight in the selection of famed drivers of yesteryear, including Richard Petty. Cale Yarborough, and others. And though there's no word yet on a create-a-driver feature, NASCAR '99 does sport a cool new touch--night racing.

Roaring Engines

EA's also spent some time tinkering with NASCAR's sounds, and the deafening roar of the racing experience should be much more impressive in this year's game. EA has even recorded all-new car sounds inside a real-life NASCAR racer. Finally, the game features two commentators who call the race, and communications from the crew chief, who chimes in with tips on accidents, advice on fuel and tires, and words on what the rest of the field's up to.

EA Sports' NASCAR 99 is a great simulation of professional stock car racing. It's also a good racing game. For racers looking for an official licensed game focused on realistic action, NASCAR 99 is the clear choice. Even if you've avoided learning anything about NASCAR (it's now 50 years old) you would still appreciate this game.

Gameplay

The game offers three basic options: Quick Race will dump you randomly in a car on a track, Single Race allows you to choose driver and track, Championship is the season mode sending you through each track with tabulating of times and winnings.

The Game Options allow you to tinker with the game. You can choose from one of six controller options (including a steering wheel if you own one), set the volume for the music and sound effects, turn the commentary off (now that's a great option!), turn the split time display off, or turn the best line off (that black line that all the computer racers follow). These are the same as NASCAR 98, so you'll be familiar with them if you played the 98 version on the PSX.

The NASCAR Options allow you to extend the race from the default 3% up the official 100% if you¹ve got a few hours to kill on a race. It also allows other options such as damage modes, game strength settings, yellow flags and mph settings. If you want the full effect of running out of fuel or needing to replace your tires, it's all "in the game".

The Custom Options allow you to adjust computer drivers strength, increase the drafting effect, your engine's horse power, the car balance effect, and the sensitivity in the steering as you move to higher speeds.

Car Options include the ability to adjust the transmission, rear spoiler, wedge, tire pressure, and gear ratios. Racing in standard transmission mode allows you to accelerate faster but is a little harder to manage. Pit stops also let you tweak your car slightly. Unfortunately, just like in NASCAR 98 you still can't control your car heading into the pit, the computer does that.

The touch of the N64 control stick allows you to deftly work in and out of turns. To get better control, you'll want to increase the downforce on the rear spoiler and/or increase your tire pressure. To get optimal speed in the straightway you'll want to decrease the downforce on the rear spoiler and/or increase the gear ratios. The best way to pass other drivers is to decelerate more slowly than your opponents heading into the corners. As long as you survive the corner you will pass a few AI drivers. If you end up skidding or smacking the wall, your mark will remind you of where it happened every time you come around for another lap.

Like most full season games, you can save your status after each race. If you didn't like how you performed last race, you can do it again. For those seeking perfection, this allows you to win every race throughout the season.

Just as you get comfortable with the multitude of oval tracks, you'll hit Sears Point or Watkins Glen. These two road tracks are very different from the others and require you to master new skills. You'll want to max out the downforce, oversteer and tire pressure for these two tracks. Approach them both with caution. Fancy effects like instant replay and multiple camera angles allow you to get great alternative perspectives and see what happened.

Many of the professional NASCAR drivers are represented in the game (31 in all). I usually raced with Jeff Gordon because I hear he's pretty good. In game statistics and flavor descriptions for each driver will help you know more about these pros. All of the drivers are equal so there will be no disadvantage in two-player mode.

The introduction is very plain, showing some cars going around a curve in a group then cutting to a very basic title shot. You'll notice the cars all have square shadows that stick out from all four sides (not much attention to detail there). The music is a cheesy rock and roll kind of thing. You'll want to turn it off and put in a CD.

The announcers get repetitive very quickly and sometimes say things that just don't make any sense. It also runs slightly behind reality; for example, it will announce that you're running in the top five when you've just taken the lead overall.

When you win a race you get a scene of driving in front of the crowd, climbing out the window, and standing with arms triumphantly in the air.

Graphics

The cars are extremely colorful and look just like the real cars with endorsements plastered all over. The tracks are your basic gray with sloping effects on the outside curves. It is a realistic interpretation but will not knock your socks off.

System Features Supported

Supports 2 Player/Simultaneous mode, N64 Controller Pak, and N64 Rumble Pak

Bottom Line

This game is worth buying if you love professional race car driving. It's also worth renting if you would like to try a different racing game (there are a few). If you are looking for unearthly jumps or more of a science fiction storyline, this isn't the game for you, but if you have dreams of being on the circuit some day or you just have too many dependents to justify driving 200 mph, it is a good time.

People say:

8

Good news for fans of EA's NASCAR series-NASCAR 99 for the N64 rocks! It's important to note that it has taken on a new look, as well as new gameplay, car physics and Al; pretty much an entirely new game from last year's version (which was only on the PS). Right off the bat, be it good or bad, it feels much more arcade-like. The cars turn quicker, brake harder and recover from wall scrapes and collisions in an unrealistic way. Whereas last year you had to enter corners at just the right speeds to avoid spinouts, NASCAR 99 lets you enter turns very fast with only a minor amount of braking to correct your car's path. The same goes for tapping and nudging on the straight-aways. In '98 if you tapped another car's back end, you'd usually go careening off into the in-field. No such thing this time. But thankfully, NASCAR 99 has retained its excellent gameplay balance. The actual racing isn't too discouraging, nor is it too easy to win. It's just challenging enough to keep you hooked for the long haul. One major complaint: The motor sound is weak in the exterior views. It's exceptional when using the in-car view though (which, by the way, is a very functional view to use). It goes without saying--serious N64 racing fans should definitely check out NASCAR 99. It's about time we got a good N64 racer.

5

As you'd expect, NASCAR 99 is tailored for the die-hard gear heads. You can tweak all kinds of physics and car characteristics, such as drafting effects, tire pressure, gear ratios and such.Trouble is, none of that interests me. Neither does racing laps and laps around mostly oval tracks. Stock-car fans will appreciate the authenticity, decent graphics and tight control, but the game's not likely to turn NASCAR newbies into fans.

7

Being "a thicky foreigner," I can't quite comprehend the American fixation with powerful stock cars going round and round in circles. I do like a good racing game though, and this seems to be perfectly adequate. It's not exactly what I'd describe as underpants-soiling "fun" but the graphics are very slick (apart from the awful pop-up) and it seems to be a pretty thorough simulation. Racing fans could do a lot worse...like GT64.

7

Finally, some good realistic racing games are making their way to the N64.1 admit to not having the least bit of interest in real NASCAR racing (bores me to tears, sorry), but I've always liked the home games, and NASCAR 99 is the best one yet. There's a load of cars and tracks to choose from, a great Season Mode, very nice aesthetics and plenty of car customization options. If you prefer realistic racing, definitely check it out.

Overview

EA Sports' NASCAR 99 is a great simulation of professional stock car racing. It's also a good racing game. For racers looking for an official licensed game focused on realistic action, NASCAR 99 is the clear choice. Even if you've avoided learning anything about NASCAR (it's now 50 years old), you would still appreciate this game.

Gameplay

The game offers three basic options: Quick Race will dump you randomly in a car on a track, Single Race lets you choose driver and track, and Championship is the season mode, sending you through each track and tabulating times and winnings.

The game options allow you to tinker with the game. You can choose from several controller options (including steering wheel if you own one), set the volume for the music and sound effects, turn the commentary off, turn the split time display off, or turn the best line on (that gray line that is supposedly the fastest way around the track). These are the same as NASCAR 98, so you'll be familiar with them if you played the 98 version.

The NASCAR Options allow you to extend the race from 3% of the track (the default is 5%) up to the official 100% if you've got a few hours to kill on a race. It also allows other options such as damage modes, game strength settings, yellow flags and mph settings. If you want the full effect of running out of fuel or needing to replace your tires, it's all "in the game." Extending the race length and playing with the pit modes will also display on the screen how many pit stops you will have to make. This is very useful.

The Custom Options allow you to adjust computer drivers' strengths, increase the drafting effect, your engine's horsepower, the car balance effect, and the sensitivity in the steering as you move to higher speeds.

Car Options include the ability to adjust the transmission, rear spoiler, wedge, tire pressure, and gear ratios. Racing in standard transmission mode allows you to accelerate faster, but is a little harder to manage. Pit stops also allow you to tweak your car slightly. Unfortunately, just as in NASCAR 98, you still can't control your car heading into the pit; the computer does that.

To get better control, you'll want to increase the downforce on the rear spoiler and/or increase your tire pressure. To get optimal speed in the straightway, you'll want to decrease the downforce on the rear spoiler and/or increase the gear ratios. The best way to pass other drivers is to decelerate slower than your opponents heading into the corners. As long as you survive the corner, you will pass a few AI drivers. If you end up skidding or smacking the wall, your mark will remind you of where it happened every time you come around for another lap.

Like most full-season games, you can save your status after each race. If you didn’t like how you performed last race, you can do it again. For those seeking perfection, this allows you to win every race throughout the season.

Just as you get comfortable with the multitude of oval tracks, you'll hit Sears Point or Watkins Glen. These two road tracks are very different from the others and require you to master new skills. You'll want to max out the downforce, oversteer and tire pressure for these two tracks. Approach them both with caution. Fancy effects like instant replay and multiple camera angles allow you to get great alternative perspectives and see what happened.

Many of the professional NASCAR drivers are represented in the game (31 in all). I usually raced with Jeff Gordon because I hear he's pretty good. In-game statistics and flavor descriptions for each driver will help you learn more about these pros. All of the drivers are equal, so there will be no disadvantage in two-player mode.

The introduction graphics are first-rate, as PSX players have come to expect. They include pictures of the circuit. The music is decent, but not anything you’d crank up for friendly get-togethers.

In the PSX version, the announcers are a lot more colorful, useful and interesting. The flavor guy will give you long, detailed descriptions about different aspects of the NASCAR vehicles and driver equipment. Your teammate in the stands will tell you from which side cars are approaching you from behind (high or low). He'll also tell you where the best place is to stay on the track. This makes him a much more valuable member of the team.

When you win a race, you get a scene of driving in front of the crowd, climbing out the window, and standing with arms triumphantly in the air.

Graphics

The cars are extremely colorful and look just like the real cars with the endorsements plastered all over them. The tracks are your basic gray. It is a realistic interpretation, but will not thrill you. The distant roads lose definition (there isn't much gradation to begin with), which makes it harder to predict what lies ahead. The menus roll around from top to bottom so you can't see all the options without rolling through them. The fonts are large, and the choice currently under your selection line jumps out ever bigger. While these menus are kind of fancy, I prefer the straightforward list mode better.

Bottom Line

This game is worth buying if you love professional race car driving. It's also worth renting if you would like to try a different racing game (there are a few). If you are looking for unearthly jumps or more of a science fiction storyline, this isn't the game for you, but if you have dreams of being on the circuit some day or you just have too many dependents to justify driving 200 mph, it's a good time.

Not many people in Britain know a lot about NASCAR stock car racing. Although it's shown on British television very occasionally, such as when Nigel Mansell tried and, er, failed, most people's experience of NASCAR will probably come from the Tom Cruise film Days Of Thunder.

In the film (and indeed, on TV) the sport is fast, dangerous and exciting. These elements are what any NASCAR videogame needs to make it a success. Sadly NASCAR '99 doesn't quite pull it off. In fact it comes across about as dangerous as a game of Scalextric, and a lot less exciting.

For those that don't know, in NASCAR the cars are all fairly similar. They have to be based on one of a few 'stock' designs (hence the name) with similar engines and chassis. This means everyone starts off fairly equal and it's skill alone that decides the winner, with maybe a little bit of luck.

Get Your Motor Running...

NASCAR '99 offers a massive range of options, which isn't surprising as EA are renowned for their front-end presentation. Adjustable features include the car setup and handling, the strength of the opponents, car damage and the laps per race - from one to four hundred! All the options screens are easy to read, and there's a quick start option included for those who just want to get straight into it.

The speed of the game is pretty quick, a lot better in fact than the disappointing GT 64, and the cars are nicely detailed. If you elect to have damage switched on, then colliding with other cars or track walls can result in wings breaking, bonnets buckling and even wheels falling off. This is fun at first but quickly becomes irritating, because your car falls behind the pack if it takes too much damage. To prevent this you can turn the damage off, or there's the option for limited damage so you can watch bits fly off without inhibiting your perfomance too much.]

Roundabout Racing

Fairly quickly you'll notice one thing about the game. Nearly all the tracks are oval in shape, meaning that you're constantly turning left - and nothing else! There are two tracks of a less regular shape, but even these aren't very challenging when compared to your average rally or F1 track.

This is the thing about NASCAR '99. Ifyou're into NASCAR racing, and like the thought of driving in a circle hundreds of times doing very little apart from admiring the scenery - of which there isn't much - then this game might be for you. If, however, you like your driving a bit more varied, then you're not going to be impressed.

It has to be said that even NASCAR fans might not like this game because although it does run fairly fast, it doesn't capture the thrill of the real thing. Although there's no pop-up, the background instead fades in, which is a bit naff considering that there's not much to it!

Two-player mode is okay, although the sparse scenery is further simplified. If you are a NASCAR fan, then perhaps give this a look, but you're likely to just be disappointed. Again. Just what is it about the N64 and racing games?

Mix of arcade game and sim that can't decide which to be, and thus fails to be either. A very repetitive racer that even NASCAR fans won't like.

Roun And Round And Round again...

The National Advancement of Stunningly Circular Automobile Racing (note: this may be untrue) has been around for donkey's years in the States, aiding insomniacs and helping depressants take those final steps towards suicide.

It's also been plaguing the PlayStation like a hideously itchy rash - in the form of a fully licensed, er, thing - for the past three years. First time out, it was, you know, okay. It lacked a bit of pizzazz, but it was alright. Second time, it was slightly less acceptable and the fact that you raced on tracks that were entirely oval - with lap counts somewhere up around the 390 mark - suddenly became worryingly obvious. Third time out - that's NASCAR 99, to you and me - it's just abominably dull. Plain and simple, really.

See, it's not that these games are technically woeful. Far from it. NASCAR is visually accomplished (even though it doesn't deal with anything too complicated) and comes complete with ultra-realistic car physics and some pretty handy track detail on more diverse courses like Sears Point. It's also got a commendable amount of speed and a fair sprinkling of sampled 'speech', with "wooahl", "oooh" and, er, "wooahl" particular favourites.

However, it's crippled by the fact that it's so utterly boring. Of the 17 courses, 15 are just h-u-g-e ovals. Even the Indianapolis track - made to look like the most exciting thing on Earth in Cruise-a-thon, Days of Thunder - is just four very wide turns and two long straights. There're some smashes along the way though, as far as excitement is concerned, nowhere near enough - but, more often, there's just frustrating realignment as your car inevitably 'drifts' without you even moving the analogue. Which isn't ideal.

Another firm nail in its already fully-furnished coffin has to be the behaviour of the other cars. Or, rather, lack of it. The AI the drivers seem to have been lumbered with is Neanderthal at best. As you pelt round at 100mph, they'll occasionally attempt to shove into you, then, when that doesn't work, they'll kindly move out of the way and let you pass. More often, they won't actually do anything. They'll just keep to the same racing line, completely independent to yours, and hope for the best. Subsequently, NASCAR comes across as being a lesson in how to drive very, very sensibly. Or, more probably, 30 not-very-confident drivers taking their test.

Which leads NASCAR to its natural conclusion: you start a race and, by the time you finish, you're 50 years old, with three kids and a semi-detached in Welwyn Carden City.

After a championship run on the PlayStation last year, NASCAR '99 is revving up for an even stronger season--and its rookie year on the N64.

Rolling Start

The phenomenal rise in the popularity of stock-car racing means that EA Sports has a huge, ever growing audience of race fans dying for some NASCAR action--and they're taking advantage of it with N64 and PlayStation versions of NASCAR '99. While the N64 version remains under wraps at press time, the PlayStation version looks like it's heading for a promising season with a new physics model and an impressive jump in the number of drivers and tracks.

Racers can bump fenders on 18 tracks (including superspeedways, road courses, and short tracks) as one of 31 drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin. Dick Trickle, Terry Labonte, Ricky Rudd, to name just a few. Longtime race buffs will delight in the selection of famed drivers of yesteryear, including Richard Petty. Cale Yarborough, and others. And though there's no word yet on a create-a-driver feature, NASCAR '99 does sport a cool new touch--night racing.

Roaring Engines

EA's also spent some time tinkering with NASCAR's sounds, and the deafening roar of the racing experience should be much more impressive in this year's game. EA has even recorded all-new car sounds inside a real-life NASCAR racer. Finally, the game features two commentators who call the race, and communications from the crew chief, who chimes in with tips on accidents, advice on fuel and tires, and words on what the rest of the field's up to.

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