NASCAR 2011 Hands-On Impressions

The latest game bearing the NASCAR license has its sight set on a wide variety of racing fans.

When you look at the back catalog of games from developer Eutechnyx, NASCAR 2011 starts to make a whole lot more sense. This is a game with the ambitious goal of reaching any number of disparate racing enthusiasts, from gearheads with perpetually grease-stained hands to the casual fans that might only pick it up because, hey, it's got Danica Patrick in it! It's a game aiming for wildly different levels of accessibility, where you'll find a rewind button alongside the ability to tweak the amount of grill tape on your car to achieve optimal down-force levels. So what sort of developer tries to pull off a feat like this? Well, one that's worked on everything from Le Mans 24 Hours and F1 World Grand Prix to Big Mutha Truckers and Pimp My Ride.

This is gonna hurt.

Fitting with that theme, the driving model in NASCAR 2011 is what you make of it. There are a number of optional assists that you can enable, including ones that not even NASCAR drivers can benefit from, like ABS and traction control. Driver AI can also be tweaked, including the standard easy through hard options, as well as an adaptive level of AI that reacts on the fly to how well you're doing in a given race (which you can think of as a fancier version of rubber-banding). But no matter how simple or challenging you choose to make the driving model, there's one constant obstacle, and that's dealing with the pack.

The combined rigors and rewards of pack racing is what Eutechnyx is really banking on to separate NASCAR 2011 from other racing games on the market. There's the obvious strategy of knowing when to draft and when to slingshot past an opponent, but there's also knowing at what point you go from "rubbing is racing" to sheer reckless maniac. Having played through a few races, we can definitely say that being caught in the middle of a huge cluster of cars is a scary sensation, but when you can successfully navigate through them with minimal damage, it's a uniquely rewarding sensation. When you add a rival mechanic that encourages you to spite specific drivers and a damage model where anything can break off your car and remains on the track for the race, you can see how having 43 cars on a track can get pretty nutty.

Outside of the speedway, there are a number of additional features. You can tune your car in either basic or advanced modes. Basic offers a handful of sliders to adjust simple traits like handling on a less or more scale, but when you switch over to advanced tuning, it suddenly becomes a different beast entirely. You can adjust dozens of different aspects of your car, such as the brake bias, the camber and caster of your tires, and the aforementioned grill tape levels. It's a truly esoteric level of minutiae, but developer Eutechnyx wants to make sure that the gearheads out there aren't left out in the cold.

Each cockpit is based off photographs of its real-life counterpart.

A leveling system grants you new features and rewards like alternate paint schemes for your car, but there's also a paint job editor that allows you to create logos and liveries from scratch. This allows you to make your car as flashy and commercialized or simple and subdued as you like. We didn't get a chance to see this particular feature in motion, but judging by the level of nitty-gritty details in the car tuning mode, we can only assume you're given a large number of options to paint your car.

Then, of course, there's the career mode, which takes the form of the Sprint Cup Series. But the most interesting part of the career mode is what's not in there--at least not yet. In the box, you'll find the cars and tracks from the 2010 season, but shortly after the game's release, you'll be able to download a free patch to update the game for the changes to the 2011 game. This includes racing on the new speedway in Kentucky and using the newly modified nose designs for the upcoming season. You'll be able to pick up NASCAR 2011on February 15.

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Discussion

37 comments
HMSA
HMSA

I used to love NASCAR games, but without Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series on the Career Mode this game will be a BIG FAIL! I'ts a shame theese developers are that stupid. I hopo you can at least buyout racing teams.

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

gun just because its lower power then 360 ps3 dont mean it cant be beautiful gc had one of hte most beautiful games last gen known as -resident evil 4

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

Is it me or are more and more Wii games useing motion blur, and AA on the GPU? I know the wii was kinda under powered but it seems when they lock the frames to 30, they can show off the platform in way more detail then when they did the old 60FPS bit. Plus it allows them to push the hardware more now that they are required to support classic controllers too.

virgilhenry
virgilhenry

wow this is great its about time nascar came back out with a nascar game hope it like the old ons 2002 and for computer

kiesah
kiesah

The last nascar I played was on the PS2 (total control racing, or something like that) which wasn't bad but, I have to agree with some of the comments, rather boring. I am always surprised that year after year a new Nascar game is published without a track editor. Its the simplest solution. Hardcore fans can ignore it whilst the rest of us can build our own (non-oval) tracks to race these beautiful cars around! salty500, are you enjoying GT5? I think it's a major let-down. I thought that they would have cracked it this time - you know 6 years development and 60 million dollars later....but, damm, it's so boring! I'm really finding GT5 a chore to play-in fact I haven't played it in a while. Are there actual nascar races in it or just those brief tests?

salty500
salty500

hmm well i have gt5 and that has nascar and other cars .. so i'll give this one a miss ..... come on its what everyone is thinking !!!

Wormkid_64
Wormkid_64

Wow a NASCAR game that looks fun! I like how the handling and tape and downforce levels are all added in for lots of options. Also customization is a must in any car game in my book,whether the real deal permits it or not.

Scootman78
Scootman78

I like the career mode for most of the sports games that are out there, but career mode in NASCAR doesn't sound all that interesting according to this article. It appears to be more of a season mode since you're just taking part in the Sprint Cup series. So according to Eutechnyx & Activision, all NASCAR drivers start out running the big races and never have to work their way to the "pro level". I'll admit I am not all into NASCAR (especially since Earnhardt Sr died) as the drivers today are getting paid a bunch of money to race around in circles, yet feel the need to whine at each other like babies for getting cut-off on the track and to fire their pit crew for their own poor performance on the track rather than taking blame themselves. IF the the pit crew is that responsible for wins and losses, then they should be the ones making the big money. For it to be a true career mode, these aspects of the sport should be included. I do like racing games in general though and will give NASCAR a try. I wish Gamespot had put more detail into what career mode includes rather than just a paragraph explaining you can download a new patch.

dreamdust
dreamdust

The screenshots look good. Hope it turns out to be a good game!

hello8964
hello8964

wow nascar go circle sports they rock

lordofallpies
lordofallpies

Nascar and F1 are both great sports. DON'T DISS!

lordofallpies
lordofallpies

The best thing about Nascar is the crashes [not that I like people dying or anything though]

WarpedCore
WarpedCore

As a pure road cose fan of racing, there is something to be said about being wide open around the speedway in a sandwich of 5 other cars . Gets downright scary. One wrong move and . . . . .

Ayer99
Ayer99

comes out the same day as conduit 2. ouch

MW2GhoST
MW2GhoST

@gonefishing95 NASCAR has a lot more too it than just going around in circles, constant contact with other drivers while going 180 plus is a lot to handle in a 3400 lb car not to mention a simple variation in track temp and tire pression can completly mess up the handling of the car. It takes extreme skill behind the wheel to successfully drive a stock car, and if you don't believe me check out this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgDqGkeAlII Thats what happens when you over estimate how simple and mindless driving one of these cars is, not to mention almost all open wheel drivers fail at driving NASCAR while many of NASCAR's top drivers have said that F1 and Indy are too low of a challenge for their skill level.

Gonefishing95
Gonefishing95

@oneofthefall I Proper agree with the football :P I swear most are secretly gay but nascar just looks like going round a perfectly symmetrical circle track over and over, what i like about F1 is that the track is full of different corners and how the racers have to master the track before they have a chance (:

oneofthefall
oneofthefall

@ Gonefishing95, Hi im from Britain too but dont see it like that, but well the same could be said for English football... you kick a ball back and forth back and forth back and forth and so on for 90mins,Until finally you kick the ball in a net and then a load of sweaty guys decide to give you a kiss and cuddle for doing it... hmm i know which sport id prefer lol

dark_rising76
dark_rising76

The video I've seen of this game seems neat and lots of customization that's available. I hope that the career mode is deeper than F1 2010.

corespoon
corespoon

@gonefishing95 how boring people find F1 racing and most racing over seas can be said too. A car comes by about 5 or so seconds later another car comes by. so on and so on and sometimes only 1 cars finishes so you get to see a car for 5 seconds every few minutes. boring. you can't see the whole track and well it's just boring.

Gonefishing95
Gonefishing95

Im from Britain (Ftww), and all i can work out is that Nascar is going round a circle over and over and over and over and over and over, and then ram someone, then round the circle, over and over...i could go on ;D

oneofthefall
oneofthefall

@ sina90, Because if you want a real stock-car sim with realistic damage realistic A.I and 43 cars on track then you would be foolish to not get this! plus forza 3 is a car manufacture advertisement game and not a sim only a few cars on track and non exsistant damage, NFS... no comment!

Deathstalker83
Deathstalker83

I'll have to put this on my gamefly list and give a test drive.

sina90
sina90

I have Forzamotor3 & NFS. why should i play this game?

360hammer
360hammer

No mention of Ferrari Challenge, Supercar Challenge but yet again we have "but shortly after the game's release, you'll be able to download a free patch to update the game for the changes to the 2011 game" Kinda like the monthly DLC for Ferrari Challenge, I'm still waiting Eutechnyx and still no Nur.

maxp84
maxp84

I'm not poor and stupid enough to enjoy this game.

packers91
packers91

also: bring back paintballs!

packers91
packers91

I haven't played a nascar game since Nascar Thunder. After that if you tried co-op racing, one car would be vastly superior despite equal stats and tuning and it just lost all it's fun.

Xbox360Gamer15
Xbox360Gamer15

looks great on the 360 version...the ps3 version looks like a n64 game

daabulls23
daabulls23

Sounds ok, but it doesn't sound like they are aiming for realism. It sounds like they are trying to cater everyone, which is going to end up pleasing very few. C'mon, rewind button? Just keep debris there? Sounds very arcade like.

Stuey14
Stuey14

if your looking for a real oval racer,play Iracing.look it up,dale earnhart jr uses it,scott speed,marcus ambrose and many more.all the tracks and cars are laser scanned to the crack.they do road cources aswell,Spa Francorchamps is coming soon.

victort25
victort25

I'm going to drive straight and then maybe turn to the left

AverageGamer99
AverageGamer99

I'm looking forward to a new full-out NASCAR game. I know GT5 has it, but it probably isn't that full, as it is just a side feature. Anyway, this game looks awesome, and it's already on my watchlist. Can't wait to play it.

MonkeySpot
MonkeySpot

Can't wait to see what fresh studio and fresh minds bring to my favorite sport. EA Sports was killin' it for the last few years, I haven't purchased a version since 2005 (I've been working "Dirt to Daytona" ever since). The game looks very promising, and I LOVE how they will issue an update of rosters and schedule for the 2011 season. TAKE NOTE: THIS IS THE KIND OF THING THAT WILL MAKE ME A DAY-ONE PURCHASER, DEVS!!!

sekia37
sekia37

looks like a good racing game, tho not a fan of nascar

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

im getting as i was not impressed w gt5s nascar no pitting no cautions ya , i dont call that nascar!

DBanner126
DBanner126

"I'm not poor and stupid enough to be good at Nascar. Dat's gay as hell." Yay southpark :D