Nascar Racing 2002 Season
NASCAR Racing 2002 Season is racecar veteran Papyrus' latest offering in the genre that they know best. The game is fully licensed so the game is chock full of all of the season's tracks, drivers, cars, paint jobs and even sponsors. You'll see favorites like Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Bobby Labonte as well as newcomers like Tony Stewart.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Veterans of the Papyrus line of NASCAR games won't find tons new in this latest version, but nonetheless,is an impressive game with lots of features that will captivate both the uninitiated and the veteran PC racer.
The most obvious difference betweenand is the inclusion of two new real tracks and one fictional track, bringing the track total to a whopping 24. Both Winston Cup additions, Chicagoland Speedway and Kansas Speedway feature nearly identical 1.5-mile tracks, while the fantasy track, the Coca-Cola Superspeedway, offers up simple a 3-mile track with long straightaways and two 36-degree banked turns.
Racing also includes a number of...well I guess you could call them "cheats," that allow virtual racing newbies a chance at keeping up with hardcore computer racing fanatics. The game includes anti-lock brakes, automatic shifting and clutch, steering assistance, traction control and even a colored racing line which overlays on the track to show you how best to take turns and where to brake. As if that wasn't enough there are two hours of NASCAR driving school lessons, broken up into 10 sections. The school teaches everything from the basic rules to car tuning. The only downside is that the lessons are narrated but not interactive.
Another addition is the inclusion of track tours narrated by Darrell Waltrip. Not only does Waltrip provide gamers with general track info, he provides the skinny on how to best handle the track and in what areas a racer might have problems.
Now for the important stuff, the actual racing...
Overall NASCAR Racing 2002 Season is a tremendously detailed and well implemented racing simulator, living up to the standard set by Papyrus years ago when it virtually invented the NASCAR sim. The game features several options for racing, including testing sessions, single races and the championship season. It also allows you to do a quick restart without having to go through all of the pre-race rigmarole, which saves both time and patience when you commit an on-track mishap that costs you standing.
Having said that, there are problems. The virtual drivers in this latest game still seem to have problems thinking on their own. Instead they rely on a sort of pack mentality that makes for unusually long stretches of bumper-to-bumper racing. Sometimes the sims seem to avoid smashing it up with an almost supernatural ability while other times non-sensical low-speed crunches take out whole sections of the track. In my opinion the races also can suffer from a bit of anti-climax, but then again I'm not the biggest fan of real-life NASCAR racing either.
Despite these anomalies, the look, sound and feel of the game make for quite a surreal experience. The super-high level detail of the track and its immediate surroundings not only give you the look of true-life racing, it gives you the feel. The cars spinout, roll and hug the road in a way that mimics real life physics almost perfectly. This version of NASCAR even includes drafting, the art of using a lead car's air wake to avoid speed-killing drafts. Racing is truly an outstanding NASCAR simulator.
NASCAR Racing 2002 Season features some of the most stunning driving graphics I've ever seen. The minor graphic glitches most car games experience have been ironed out in 02. Even the curves in the body appear smooth, and dents and warps are near flawless. The most impressive show of the game's graphics are when you go into the replay option and watch yourself racing through traffic, or flipping over it from a variety of camera angles. Honest to goodness it looks like your watching highlights from ESPN. The power of the graphics necessitate having a wide variety of graphic settings to accommodate any machine, which Racing also offers in spades.
Much like the graphics, sound in Racing is bliss. Instead of relying on the endless looped droning of a engine's roar to fill your speakers and likely put you to sleep, this game features cleverly crafted sounds that not only make the experience more vivid, it aids you in the race. Now you can keep an ear out for engine and transmission problems, and listen to the squeal of the tires to tell if you're cutting too tight in a turn or hitting it too wide.
You want multiplayer support, try you and up to 41 of your friends bumping and grinding your way around Talladega or Bristol? The game supports both network and Internet multiplay. Internet games are hosted by Sierra's free online service and typically has gearheads waiting to race. You may have to crank the graphics down a wee bit if you expect to avoid significant lag issues. But that's what Cable modems are for.
Minimum System Requirements
Pentium II 450 or equivalent, 64 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, 3D accelerator graphics card, 16 MB VRAM, mouse and DirectX 8.1.
NASCAR Racing 2002 Season brings a lot to the table for racing fans. Papyrus has managed to maintain its highly realistic simulator while introducing elements that will attract the casual gamer. Although the game doesn't offer a whole lot of new additions for the nearly $45 price tag, it does make a lot of little changes that make for an overall better game. Racing is a definite must for racing fans who don't have the similar NASCAR 4 and for hardcore gamers who want the latest tracks and don't care about the price tag.