Dirt to Daytona is a sound NASCAR simulation with one of the most robust career modes of any driving game to date.
Like Infogrames' last driving game, V-Rally 3, NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona features great graphics, a wide selection of cars, and an incredibly deep career mode. Unlike V-Rally 3, however, Dirt to Daytona isn't marred by any control problems. In fact, fans of stock car racing will surely find this game to be one of the most complete and well-rounded NASCAR games currently available for the PlayStation 2. It still suffers from the two key problems that affected its predecessor, NASCAR Heat 2002: a relative lack of licensed drivers and a somewhat forgiving damage model. Those two issues aside, however, Dirt to Daytona is one thorough driving game.
In fact, you typically expect to find such complex and brimming driving games on the PC, not on a console. But there's no denying Dirt to Daytona's depth. Its name, though somewhat confusing at first, is certainly telling. In the game's career mode, you'll be tasked with advancing from the NASCAR Weekly Racing series, where ordinary stock cars race each other on simple dirt tracks, to the NASCAR Featherlite Modified series, past the NASCAR Craftsman Truck league, and into the venerable NASCAR Winston Cup series. Basically, you'll start out in the dirt leagues, but with enough experience and checkered flags, you'll be able to reach "America's race," the Daytona 500. Dirt to Daytona's career mode spans nearly 30 seasons, pits you against 43 other drivers, and challenges you on 31 different dirt and asphalt racetracks. This structure similar to that of V-Rally 3, but there's much more to it.
The first thing you'll do upon starting a career is to create a driver. Immediately afterward, you'll be taken to your office, which serves as the main interface of the career mode in Dirt to Daytona. From here, you'll have access to your race calendar, which displays dates and information on upcoming races; press clippings summarizing the latest standings; a staff budget that will let you hire a pit crew, mechanic, and chassis builder; a garage that will let you work on upgrades and sponsor placement; and a massive parts catalog that contains nearly 100 different components that you can use to enhance the performance of any of your racecars. There was no financial element to V-Rally 3's career mode, but careful management of income plays a central role in Dirt to Daytona. Most of the features offered in its career mode, from buying a better engine for your Weekly Racing stock car to hiring the best pit crew for your Winston Cup races, require money, and the easiest way for racing teams to generate money is by slapping sponsor names all over their cars. When you start Dirt to Daytona's career mode, you'll be relegated to the Weekly Racing series, and you won't have any sponsors. If you perform well in the first race, you'll start to woo prospective sponsors, each of which will have different criteria that you have to meet from race to race. Naturally, sponsors that pay more will generally expect more of you than those that don't. As you acquire more sponsors, you'll start to earn more money, which you can use to buy new parts to improve your performance. This in turn will likely increase your chances of doing better in races and wooing sponsors with deeper pockets, allowing you to buy even better parts, and so on. In addition to purchasing upgrades, you can fiddle around with a number of different handling options like tire inflation, shock speed, wheel camber, gear ratio, and even the amount of tape that you apply to the front grille. Though, for the most part, you can choose to ignore most of these options and still be competitive.
Interestingly enough, you can choose what part of your car you want any given sponsor's logo to appear on. Certain areas, like the doors and roof, are much more lucrative than, say, the bottom of the rear quarter panel. To that end, different areas of your car have different modifiers on your sponsors' contracts. A bad logo placement will reduce the amount that a sponsor has agreed to pay by up to 70 percent, whereas a visible area of your car can increase a sponsor's payout by as much as 130 percent of the contract rate. So not only does the game force you to race up to your sponsors' expectations, but you'll also have to find the most financially beneficial way to promote those sponsors.
If you place first in the Weekly Racing series at the end of a season, you'll be invited to join a Featherlite Modified team, where you'll have to go through the same rigmarole of wooing new sponsors, managing your income, buying upgrades, and hiring a new staff. When you finish a Featherlite season in first, you'll be able to move on to the Craftsman Truck series, where you'll start to race against some familiar faces. Not all the series' drivers are represented in Dirt to Daytona. In fact, only a small percentage of them are, but you'll still trade paint with the likes of Ken Schrader and Dennis Setzer. Manage your income wisely and place first in the Craftsman Truck series and you'll be invited to join a Winston Cup team. Again, like in the Craftsman Truck series, only about half of the Winston Cup drivers are actually in the game, though they're mostly the recognizable ones like Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace.
- Player Reviews: 8
- 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: