NASCAR 09 Xbox 360, PS3
Right! Right! RIGHT! I really wanted to turn that direction for so long, but I could not. There is always a wall to the right in NASCAR, and I guess driving into it would be bad. I never tired though, as I was too scared. So, as a result, I was pretty much forced to turn left, left again, and left again. In fact I think one race was about 50 laps long. As you can imagine that’s a lot of left. A hell of a lot of left!
What if my whole life was like NASCAR. What if I always had to always turn left? That would be scary. Let’s start at the beginning, getting out of bed on the left hand side. For many that would be a simple task. However for me it would hurt as there is a wall there. So, obviously I could not achieve victory in such a task without demolishing said wall. Then what about going to work? Well that’s another problem as that’s a right turn out of the driveway. So turning left to get to work would not be a whole lot of fun at all. Now, I am sure it could be done, and I would love to try it some day, but I don’t fell like getting up that much earlier to make it possible.
What if I then had to go to the toilet? That’s yet another problem, as it’s on the right side of the hallway. Of course, there is a spare room on the left so I could away go in there and do my business. Obviously, that would cause a mess though, and I am never going to get it cleaned up if I had to keep going left. What if I wanted to break out the NES and play some Super Mario Bros? I think that’s another problem as I can’t even reach the first mushroom and The screen would not even start to scroll if I went left. Those two Goomba’s have the correct idea though, as they march menacingly left towards me. Sonic has the same problem, as he is never, ever going to get out of Green Hill Zone by going left.
Now, I won’t lie, I never really ever watched that much NASCAR in my life, but I guess you can already tell that my above rambling. In fact, I don’t really watch much racing at all. I don’t really like F1 either (except for the crashes, but they don’t happen enough to make me want to watch repeatedly). Top Gear is good, but I only really watch that for the banter between the guys, and Fifth Gear is only worth a watch because of that nice looking blonde girl with the double-barrelled name.
Thankfully, for people like me NASCAR 09 does a rather good job of trying to introduce newcomers to the game, and trying to explain what the inimitable US-centric sport is all about. It starts of by giving you two modes to pick from – Normal and Pro. As you can guess pro is for people who know what they are doing, and have knowledge of NASCAR (AKA the mode where I failed miserably). Then there is normal mode, offering a more arcade-style race (AKA the mode where I had a bit of fun). Once you settle into the right mode for you, you can then design your own car with loads of visual options available, along with the option to import others. You then pick asponsor from a long list, and then finally start racing.
Unlike many other racing games, where it is possible to gain a quick advantage by bumping into other cars to go around a bend, doing something like this is a big no-no in NASCAR. Instead it is in your best interest to try and play the game strategically, settling behind others cars, building up speed in the slipstream and then timing it right to shoot past the opposition. Once you get past said cars then you can always try and block those behind you. Then, if you are stuck in the middle of the pack you have both to look out for, and you’ll be always on edge as one mistake can send you all the way to the back of the pack.
For the most part the the game is faithful to NASCAR, with all kinds of logos appropriately adorning every part of the screen. The stop/start nature of the sport is also on show, which will probably confuse many if they picked up the game just looking a fun racer and then get hit with all manner of rules to learn. However, if you do know the rules then you’ll be happy to know there is all manner of options available to adjust your car to try and garner the best possible performance, trying to get than extra few MPH to help you win a race. Regretfully the game boasts none of those insane crashes you may have seen on YouTube if you were bored one night.
Then there is the online options on PSN, offering up to 14 real players the option to turn left in unison. Regretfully I did not find one race available when I went to test the game, so I cant give my opinion on the online. Maybe no one wants to turn left online? Damn you left haters!
So, there you have it. For the most part NASCAR 09 seems like a solid racer, and I guess it does a good job of simulating the real life product. It is rather boring though, as even if you are a petrol head at heart you can only have so much fun going around, and around and around.
When all is said and done, if you have already spent countless hours playing the likes of Forza, Gran Turismo, GRID, and the Burnout series then this is truly something new, but that does not mean it is something better.