Hands-on: NASCAR 2000

We drive an early copy of EA Sports' NASCAR 2000 - screenshots included.

We dropped by the Electronic Arts offices this morning to test-drive the latest build of NASCAR 2000. The game, in development by Stormfront Studios, is about two months away from completion and has shaped up quite nicely.

Players will be able to race against up to 30 active NASCAR drivers, including modern-day racing greats like Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, and others. For more seasoned fans, NASCAR 2000 will have a historical mode that'll let you test your mettle against Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, and a number of other champs from yesteryear. The build we saw had all 18 NASCAR tracks available. We even got a chance to drive Homestead in Miami and California Speedway in Fontana, two of the US' newest racecourses.

The graphics seemed top notch and boasted detailed textures and fluid animation, even with up to 30 other cars on the field. A damage model is being built into the game that substitutes regular car textures with crumpled and dented ones. Skid marks, oil leaks, and paint scrapes are given a large memory buffer, and they don't start disappearing after only a few laps around the track like they did in older games either.

Electronic Arts states that NASCAR 2000 will ship this spring, although a developer we spoke with said the game could ship as early as March. Additionally, EA Sports is expected to release a one-track demo of NASCAR 2000 late next week.

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