Monday, October 29, 2007

Review: Controls leave "NASCAR 08" in neutral

Swappin' paint and rubbing are all part of NASCAR. In a video game, correct me if I'm wrong, but I do think it's supposed to be fun.

EA's NASCAR 08 is EA's first NASCAR foray into the Xbox 360 world. While the
effort is commendable, it's not as fun as it could be.

EA gives racers a few modes to race with, including the NEXTEL Cup Championship series, the Craftsman Truck series, the Car of Tommorrow series and The Chase, a career mode. When you start the game, you have to pass a drafting exercise to play the game. While I did enjoy this part of the game, I wasn't too thrilled about the last-generation graphics. The controls are ok - but difficult at times, especially using the analog stick.

When compared to EA's last-generation NASCAR games, the career mode is basic at
best. I guess EA didn't want to disappoint racing fans by touting a ton of features. Also missing is the Total Team Control feature.

I did get my engine running doing a few of the Toyota Challenges. The one that caught my eye was the crash avoidance challenge. You have a short amount of time to avoid a pileup. It's not very easy, considering I do it all the time on I-40 in a huge Chevy Suburban. Using the less-than-forgiving controls makes it as easy as driving a dump truck on an icy overpass.

While I did enjoy the integrated ESPN sports ticker, I ended up in neutral trying to get online for a match. I tried unsuccessfully 5 times to get online. Each time, an error occurred and I couldn't access any match. What's funny is ... I have Xbox Live Gold and under my *friends,* there were 4 people I meet online in Nascar 08. Oh, boy.

EA has several titles that love calling the 360 home. Next year, I am sure NASCAR will be better. This offering, however, barely makes it to the finish line.

Why I should care: If you believe 'rubbin' is racin,' you should pick up this

The good: Real NASCAR stars, real locales, the Car of Tommorrow and interesting

The bad: Online multiplayer never worked on my professional home network -
very, very basic career mode - last generation graphics.

The ugly: Bad controls and high learning curve.

Overall: 7.25 (out of 10) - NASCAR 08 is the only NASCAR show on the 360. If you love NASCAR, you'll love this game. If you just want do some rubbing, get some lotion.

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