NASCAR fans have been chomping at the bit for a new video game in order to get behind the wheel of our favorite stock cars and wheel around the tracks we see on TV. It has been some years since EA Sports released the last NASCAR simulator for gaming systems. That long wait came to end on Tuesday when Activision released NASCAR 2011.
I got my hands on a copy for the Xbox 360. I have to say that I am impressed with the game, yet the game does lack some features that I would have like to have seen included in the release. Let me start with what I like. The visual of the tracks and the cars around you are incredible. You feel like you are actually in a Sprint Cup race rumbling down the track at a high rate of speed. The player is given a number of different views to use while driving the car. You can go from sitting in the car, to a hood point of view, to a full car point of view with the click of the controller button. Other views are offered as well.
The sound design is amazing also. The closer you get to another car, the louder that car’s engine reverberates back. The tires squealing when you slide the car or spin sounds just like you are inside the car. This is expected as sound design for video games has come a long way. The developers of this game put in the time to make sure it sounds like you are right in the middle of the action.
So how do the cars drive in relation to the action we see on television in an actual race? I have to say that you have to drive the car properly and in the groove. In past simulators you were able to hold down the gas and go all the way around every track featured on the game without lifting. This made game play fairly easy in the past. In NASCAR 2011, this is not possible any longer. I raced Auto Club Speedway as a way to test the handling of the car. I tried to hold it wide open as long as possible into the turn, but this resulted in the car pushing up into the wall. When I ran the groove and got off the gas and I let the car roll into the corner, I was in the groove and made great time around the track. To see if this was true of another track, I tried the same thing at Bristol Motor Speedway. The result was the same. Although the game allows you to make all kinds of adjustments to the car like the real teams do, I did not go that direction with my initial playing of the game. I tend to start slow with video games and build my knowledge. I will say if you looking for a full simulation of car handling and setups, the game has the features to deliver.
Although the game delivers awesome realism with the wrecks and on track action, some features are missing that I wish were there. One piece that the previous EA releases got right was the career mode. I liked that you could start in the Whelen Modified Series and work your way up to the Sprint Cup Series. This game does not give you that option. Career mode is straight to Cup and see what happens. You still get the chance to unlock game extras and such with your performance, but it was fun to build up your driver or character by starting at the bottom.
Overall the game will make any casual or hardcore NASCAR fan happy, and will provide hours of gaming entertainment. If you are thinking of purchasing a new video game for your gaming system, give NASCAR 2011 a try, you just might dethrone Jimmie Johnson from his next title.
edited to add new info 03/31/2011 from the developer
Below is a list of issues we are working on for the next Patch. This isn’t a list of all the outstanding problems but we’d like to get this Patch out ASAP and these are the key issues that are stopping the majority of players from enjoying the game. As each item is fixed, the status will be updated. Thanks again for your patience and understanding.
Fix lack of Caution Flags – To Be Fixed
Fix issues with the A.I. exiting the pits and then pulling straight up the track – To Be Fixed
Reconfigure the damage to improve the look and add more debris on impact – To Be Fixed
Fix Cautions Lights being illuminated all of the time – To Be Fixed
Improve the PS3 voice comms – To Be Fixed
Fix the Rolling Starts Online/Offline so the cars begin in the correct formation and together – To Be Fixed
Fix the instant wrecking during Online Rolling Starts – To Be Fixed
Fix the Lobby Race Start Counter freezing – To Be Fixed
Fix Spotter saying “Clear” too often – To Be Fixed
Improve general stability and freezing issues – To Be Fixed
Change the Gas indicator so it defaults to full in the pit stop interface – To Be Fixed
Draft effect both on the car and visual to be tweaked – To Be Fixed
In Private games, the host will start the timer when they are ready – To Be Fixed
Add support for the Porsche GT2 wheel – To Be Added
Add support for the T500 wheel – To Be Added
Allow the HUD to be completely turned off – To Be Added
Free up the A.I. cars so that when they are hit by a player they will get loose – To Be Fixed
Ensure only Carl Edwards performs a back flip – To Be Fixed
Add the ability to change your Online Car – To Be Added
being overly aggressive when bump drafting the player
difficulty being too easy when qualifying
pitting problems causing them to collide in to each other
bunching on certain tracks
slamming their brakes on for no reason
Hitting the wall often turns the car ending up with the player facing the wrong way