Despite its flaws, Nascar: Inside Line is a solid racing game that will please those looking for a quick Nascar fix.
Nascar: Inside Line, in most ways, is a step-up from Eutechnyx's last title Nascar: The Game 2011. Where this game succeeds is its increased difficulty from last year. When the game is set to 'Hard' or 'Champion,' it is crucial that you experiment with different setups to beat your opponents. You have to understand that layouts of each track, and one mistake can cost you a win or a solid finish. The A.I. is unforgiving and will take advantage of your mistakes at a moment's notice. This is apparent when playing the much-improved career mode.
Nascar: Inside Line's career mode is a vast improvement over last year's title. Instead of picking a current Nascar driver, you create your own driver and work your way to the top. It is your job to race smart, achieve good finishes and gain points from your current or prospecting sponsors. The great thing about this career mode is that your starting equipment is weaker compared to the A.I.'s. As you gain points, you can upagrade your equipment to keep up with the competition. Eutechnyx has done this in a way that does not feel like a cheap difficulty setting. I started my career, and at Daytona I managed to finish 19th. Working through the pack and getting this finish felt rewarding. I felt like I was making good progress. That dream was shot down when the next track, Pheonix, came up. There, my underpowered machine could barely stay in the top 30. If you grind it out, victory lane is not far away.
Now, with that being said, Inside Line does have its flaws, and some of these flaws are unsatisfactory. While the A.I. does a good job racing you hard, they, on most tracks, are borderline stupid. Two solid examples appeared when I raced at Martinsville and Darlington. All of the cars would gather in a giant conga line and back the entire field up. There was no passing to be seen. It became even worse when the leaders would come up on some slower traffic. Instead of passing these cars, they just rode behind them and it was no problem catching up to the leaders and passing them. It really kills what fun experience this game has to offer.
Pit road is also a mess. Last year's title featured a ridiculous loading screen when entering and exiting pit road. Also, cars would bunch up and cause an insane amount of wrecks. Now, the loading screens are gone, but the pit road mayhem continues. Cars will come down pit road simultaneously and some cars will fly into the wall bringing out a caution. Further, when the A.I. starts to merge onto the track, they will pull out in front of oncoming traffic bringing our more cautions. Eutechnyx has alot of work to do refining the A.I. during these segments. Plus, why is it so difficult to allow the player to drive their own cars on pit road? Isn't obeying pit road speeds and pulling into your box correctly a big part of racing, not just Nascar?
Overall, there is fun to be had with this game. It is a blast testing different setups to make sure you can succeed at the higher difficulty levels. Also, each track is unique and takes time to learn. But, with borderline dumb A.I. and ridiculous pit road issues, Nascar: Inside Line is kept from reaching its very much promised potential.