NASCAR 09 Hands-On

We take an early version of NASCAR 09 for a test drive to see what's new.

NASCAR 08 marked the series' long-awaited debut on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Unfortunately, the game failed to capitalize on the transition from last-gen to the current-gen. The developers have browsed the message boards and read the reviews--and they've taken that feedback into account during the development of NASCAR 09, which was unveiled before the Sam's Town 300 Nationwide race in Las Vegas.

Jeff Gordon will guide you through the ins and outs of the career mode. How nice of him!

One of NASCAR's greatest strengths is its drivers--they're recognizable, charismatic, and, of course, they're the ones behind the wheel. There was nary a driver to be heard from in NASCAR 08, but that's going to change in 09. Cover driver Jeff Gordon won't just be a smiling face on the front of the game's box; he'll play an integral role in the game. He'll be the one to guide you through your career. He'll test your skill level from the get-go to help place you in a car and even suggest training sessions if you're weak at a particular track to help build your skills there. Nonfans of the Rainbow Warrior will be pleased to know that he's not the only driver with a role in NASCAR 09. Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Juan Pablo Montoya, and others will have key roles as well. They'll be featured in video segments introducing their specific driver challenges, and if you're good enough, they'll congratulate you after you win. We're unsure if he'll be one of the drivers in the driver challenges, but we do know that Carl Edwards has finally come to an agreement with EA and will be included in the game this year.

Gordon is also tied to NASCAR 09's all-new rep system. After all, it's hard to find a driver with a better reputation than the four-time NASCAR champion. Right from the start your reputation will play an integral role in your progression through NASCAR 09's career mode. You'll have the option of starting at the Sprint Series level, but you'll also be able to join the truck and Nationwide series as well. Regardless of where you start, your rep will start at zero, and you'll quickly accumulate points the more races you win. You'll earn even more points for racing clean and avoiding on-track incidents. As your reputation grows you'll be offered new contracts and sponsor deals, but your reputation won't just affect the business aspect of being a driver, it will also affect your experience of the track. As you become increasingly respected, drivers will actually yield to you when you go to pass--just as they do for NASCAR's big names in real life. Of course, respect is a two-way street, so if you're constantly running into other drivers they're going to be less inclined to make things easier for you.

Friendlier bumps should make driving like this a bit easier.

Speaking of running into drivers, the folks at EA Tiburon are trying to make swapping paint a less frustrating experience than in the past. Bumping other cars is inevitable, especially when racing three-wide, but this year's game will have so-called "friendlier bumps." Rather than causing you to spin and wind up in last place or even completely out of a race, minor bumps will have less of an effect. If you do spin out, you should at least end up pointing the right way on the track, which will certainly help you get back into the thick of things much faster. In our brief hands-on time with the game we experienced several instances where a bump that would have spun us out last year only resulted in a loss of speed this year, and we were able to stay on the track. Another way the developer promises to make NASCAR 09 less frustrating is by toning down the aggressiveness of the artificial intelligence a bit. AI-controlled drivers aren't going to be pushovers by any means, but they won't go out of their way to cut across traffic just to knock you into a wall, either.

NASCAR 09's presentation will also benefit from another year of development. The team has recorded audio from actual cars driving at speed and chopped it up based on RPMs. Now your car will sound like the real deal regardless of speed. Based on what we heard, cars are much throatier and have a really powerful sound to them. Since build of the game we were playing was pre-alpha it was impossible to accurately judge the graphics, but EA reps did say they will be using more antialiasing to smooth the tracks. Improved HDR lighting will help bring more contrast when it comes to driving in and out of shadows, too.

EA wasn't ready to spill the beans on everything about the game, but that didn't stop us from asking. NASCAR 08 was extremely limited when it came to customizing your own car's appearance, but this year things will be different. We were told to expect some "really cool things with paint schemes," for instance. There still won't be any online leagues or teams, but 09's 12-player online play should benefit from the addition of matchmaking servers. This will help take some of the load off of the player hosting the game and hopefully result in smoother racing. Your career mode rep will follow you online, which should make it easier to get matched up with players of a similar skill level.

Improved anti-aliasing and lighting effects should make NASCAR 09 look much better than 08.

The best news of all for NASCAR fans is that they won't have long to wait. NASCAR 09 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 will ship to stores on June 10, almost six weeks earlier than last year's game. But there's still more to learn about NASCAR 09 before then, so be sure to check back for updates.

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Discussion

70 comments
elite396
elite396

Grid is way better, if i was you I would buy it, it is already out.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

I cant beleive people actually play this garbage! Round-n-Round-n-round...................................................................................................................................... Yawwwwnnnnnnn!

ShadowDown360
ShadowDown360

They can't have the makes and models because i think toyota wouldn't let them use it........but this looks like a good game : ) Go Tony Stewart, Kyle Bush, and Denny Hamlin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

gs4111
gs4111

i hope that you get to control some what of what you do on pitroad.. like driving into your pit .. and some type of a ownership of a whole race team.. getting to buy tools to help your cars perform better on the track.. and two players.. bc 08 was the worst ever

bestkilla
bestkilla

all can hope is good caraear and 2 players

snaker49
snaker49

On 360, the secret to win is to destroy Jeff Grodon's car and you will win no matter what. It's easier to do it with Dale Jr.

mgdhoki
mgdhoki

One VERY simple thing missing from 08, Non-Online head to head racing. It has been in EVERY Nascar game so far, why did they eliminate it in 08?

thunderbone
thunderbone

"I wonder how crappy the PS2 version will be" That's what concerns me. I hope these "changes" won't just be for 360/PS3 owners; I want them as well. I would be really [annoyed] if the PS2 version was nothing more than the previous PS2 version of NASCAR '08 only with an updated roster. I would be more worried especially since I'm sure EA would like to "force" people to buy the current-gen version since we know it'll be $20-30 more. Sure, they could simply abandon the PS2 for the game, but at least releasing a lousy game, they can still say, "see, we still support PS2!" Casual gamers would see a PS2 version in stores, and EA would at least make a little profit off the series from people who don't read reviews and just buy at the suggestion of a Walmart sales clerk. *shudders*

RacinFreek24
RacinFreek24

At least put the makes of the cars and trucks on them... I wonder how crappy the PS2 version will be

tannee16
tannee16

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

daytona84
daytona84

why is it so hard for EA to make a car a chevy, ford,etc. COT still has manufacturers. jsut another sign of them being lazy. i hate that EA has rights to NASCAR game. the suck at making this game. the try to get to complicated with it

rockxy_2003
rockxy_2003

I wonder what the pit feature will be like? I wonder if it will be all auto like the games... or at least have an option to "do it yourself" ... as well as more realistic pit options like air pressure adjustments on all 4 tires, not just front/back...

BenCrazy24
BenCrazy24

graphics wise it looks great but ea always finds a way to ruin a game. No matter what ea does, so far, none of their racing games come close to sierra's nascar racing 2003 driving wise and realistic wise. But hey, im not saying that they can't, im just saying that it hassnt happened in the past and it probly wont happen this time around either.

jr3tackle
jr3tackle

look at the pics, no chevy tie on the hood

Von-Dozier
Von-Dozier

Just something about NASCAR games that make them really fun to play. Hopefully it's not as bad as last (or year before?) years game. I still play NASCAR Thunder 2004 when I need a fix.

joemerchant2006
joemerchant2006

Well the graphics look good, sounds like a good idea. I only hope the controls are better and they make better control of the SIXAXIS on the PS3. That and more tracks than the regular tracks on the circuit. The added bonus for me, the best driver in the buisness and my favorite driver, is the cover guy, again. WOOT!!!

DRIV3R24
DRIV3R24

Since nascar 07, it was a big step... backward. Now it lookz like 3 steps forward from nascar 06! I bet there will b better grafix on ALL three games!!!!!!!!!!!!!! but y they got to rush it AGAIN!? JUNE 8th?! Thats way too early. 08 would b sooo much better if it came out in oct or nov.

for20cougar
for20cougar

can't wait to see how they do with this one, really think lack of competition has held back nascar games... why not have more options for sponsors, trading/signing drivers and running race teams. give us nearly infinite sponsors for our cars--companies would be drooling for the exposure. and there's never any need for fake drivers, any series -- i wanna blow carl edwards away in a nationwide race with kenny wallace, or beat rowdy busch with erin crocker in a truck.... come on EA step UP!

robtcbaselvis
robtcbaselvis

I would have been excited except for the fact that the folks here in Bristol decided to ruin the best track on the circuit! Hopefully in the game it wont be like watching them race down the interstate!

wolfmann
wolfmann

this is going to be a thrill I just can`t wait come June 10 BoogityBoogityBoogity

taj7575
taj7575

haha, i remember back in the day when i was a little kid playing nascar 99. i havent played a nascar game since '01, but this game looks very fun

DRIV3R24
DRIV3R24

i hope the ps2 grafix wil b as good as ps3s from last year. i no it won't, but it looks good even for ps2 with another new game engine.

go-cizmek
go-cizmek

Never played NASCAR but from the look of it, it isn't even bad.

ocdog45
ocdog45

the only thing i like is playing online with other people,,,,, if there nt crazy that is.

_RA0_
_RA0_

Car model doesn't look too good. :(

fast_gtr
fast_gtr

man they should deff change the driving part, not being able to bump draft izz juzz stupid..... graphics look good

cupsta
cupsta

12 player online and match making lol. Man Nascar Racing 2003 was and is awesome. Nascar needs to pull EA's contract for sure.

Tunza
Tunza

I Hope For Nascar Will gonna back on PC Version ! I Still Play " Nascar Sim Racing " Even Now. haha!

SpeedsterSim
SpeedsterSim

Funny how a 5 year old game beats the most recent racing games. Not to mention NR2003s online is still booming with drivers.

sgasper
sgasper

will this game come in a pc version ?

InnerHeaven_X
InnerHeaven_X

Looks really nice from what they are saying and by the pic's, it should definatly be better this year.

vvitorito
vvitorito

The game has some kick ass graphics

kstegall29
kstegall29

In this game, will it be easier to drive the car? In 08 the car always wanted to drift to the left which made it pretty hard to steer. Any info on that?

Delta_5_1
Delta_5_1

speedjunkie4, if you skip this game based on the last few years, I wouldn't blame you...personnally, I aim to rent the damn thing before I shell out $63 on it! I don't have a PS3, so GT5 is out for me. *sniff*

dunastewchp
dunastewchp

It better be better then 08 maybe i can actually bump draft and not get damage at daytona or will this be another bust?????

speedjunkie4
speedjunkie4

The last good NASCAR game was 05, so i will be skipping this for games like GT5 Prolouge and Midnight Club: LA.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Hope this is better then 08 was

Skylinefreak27
Skylinefreak27

better have the real lights on the cars this year. Alright Jeff Gordon on the cover thats freakin awesome

360player_eq12
360player_eq12

i really hope this is a good nascar game...im still playing the ones that sierra made because ea has not been able to do anything good with the licence.

systemfan1188
systemfan1188

"nascar is just about making left turns. No thank you EA, i will be occupied by gran turismo 5." GT5 looks like garbage. Just watching the gameplay vids makes it look extremely boring. People can argue NASCAR is boring - but the kind of racing done in games like GT5 and Forza is pretty boring too. Roadcourses in general are boring.

sherif77
sherif77

Still to this day best game out of EA was Nascar 05. The king of all kings is Nascar Season 2003 from sierra. I got my 08 copy from ebay used and sold it so fast it was a great disappointment, but kinda expected it from the demo. Its good to know we have more paints options to play with, and better bump control. It would be great to know that they put the catch up option back into the game like 05. Where when u crash online u go faster than anybody else to catch up. Cause with out that option there most ppl just give up and do nothing but crash everyone else. Its also good to address the Drafting problem they had in 08, u couldn't draft without crashing. They had 2 buttons in 05 that kept that from happening. One was to intimidate, and the other was just for drafting. They were also good. Here is hoping they get it right this year. I'm not keeping my hopes up though, its been to many bad games from EA.

codepunk
codepunk

NASCAR 08 demo felt more like an arcade game physics wide than the realism the series was known for in the past on the PC. I skipped it. If its like that again, I'll skip this one too.