Despite a lack of visual refinement, NASCAR 2001 is definitely a game that's worth owning.
EA Sports already has a solid foundation when it comes to NASCAR-inspired racing games. NASCAR 2000 had an arcade-quality feel, speedy visuals, and plenty of graphical eye candy, while NASCAR 2001 eschewed this graphical fluidity in favor of realistic drafting, car damage, and a plethora of options. Thanks to the technological might of the PlayStation 2, the possibility has arisen for the best of both worlds to coexist - thick, photo-quality visuals; tight, realistic control; diverse options; and easy to pick up but hard to master gameplay. Unfortunately, EA Sports' PlayStation 2 version of NASCAR 2001 isn't the peaceful coexistence racing fans are hoping for. However, if you don't expect the world when it comes to simulation options or graphical detail, it sure is a fine game of racing.
NASCAR 2001 leaps out of the starting gate with a ton of features and options. From the main menu, quick race, single-player race, single-player season, two-player race, and two-player season choices are available. Quick race places you in a random car on a random track with the majority of physics options and AI quirks disabled. Drive for six laps, have some fun, and try not to wipe out. If you want to choose a specific team, driver, track, or game option, the single race and season modes are where you'll want to go. NASCAR 2001 features 37 teams and drivers from this year's racing season, including Robert Yates Racing's Dale Jarrett, Joe Gibbs Racing's Bobby Labonte, and Team SABCO's Sterling Martin. If the stock selection of drivers isn't sufficient, you can create your own drivers as well - provided you don't mind being limited to helmet color and car choice. In terms of track selection, the speedways at Daytona, Darlington, North Carolina, California, Miami, Michigan, Phoenix, Richmond, Talladega, Watkins Glen, Pocono Raceway, Atlanta, Bristol, Lowe's, Texas, Sears Point, and Las Vegas represent the game's 17 real-world tracks - all of which may be raced in day or night conditions.
Adding depth to the game, the season modes give you the pleasure of participating in a stats-laden yearlong driving competition. Within the season mode, you can choose from a full season, half season, or a four-track miniseason. Sadly, the road course challenge, short track challenges, and speedway shootouts from the PlayStation NASCAR 2001 are missing. There are three difficulty levels to choose from, ranging from the barely challenging AI of the rookie setting to the true-to-life legend setting, in which cars routinely hog the road, form wolf packs, and generally make the course a killing field. Despite a few missing course challenges, the artificial intelligence is noticeably more realistic in this version of the game. Just as in real life, Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are some of the most line-hogging psychopaths ever to don a racing uniform, while Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin show off the reserved tendencies that make them excellent for the long haul.
In addition to allowing you to vary car settings such as transmission type, spoiler angle, suspension, wedge, tire pressure, and gearing, NASCAR 2001 also lets you toggle car damage, adjust race length, enable computer-assisted speed compensation, and select between arcade- or simulation-level physics. While the brunt of these options have only a minor impact on the actual race, be careful of the physics setting you choose. Simulation mode offers excellent draft mechanics and tighter steering, but it really forces you to be a miser when it comes to braking, fuel load, cornering, and position jockeying. The arcade setting is more of a "pedal to the metal" experience, but you lose the ability to draft and slide when you need it. As the season progresses, the game will track your accomplishments across ten per-race and 17 overall statistics categories, such as finish position, margin of victory, winnings, laps led, and average finish. The game also tracks leader board statistics in ten additional categories, including most wins, most championships, and win percentage, as well as midyear milestones. NASCAR 2001's statistics offerings may not outdo what you'll find in the Sunday morning paper, but they're no slouch either.
- Player Reviews: 2
- Game Universe:
- NASCAR 2000 (PC, N64, PS, GBC),
- NASCAR 2001 (PS, PS2),
- NASCAR Thunder 2002 (PS2, XBOX, PS),
- NASCAR Thunder 2003 (GC, PS2, XBOX, PC, PS),
- NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona (PS2, GC),
- NASCAR Thunder 2004 (PC, PS2, XBOX, GC, PS),
- NASCAR 06: Total Team Control (XBOX, PS2),
- NASCAR 08 (PS3, X360, PS2),
- NASCAR 09 (PS3, X360, PS2),
- NASCAR Rumble (PS)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: