NASCAR 2001 Hands-On

The first PS2 NASCAR game has come a surprisingly long way from it's appearance at E3.


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The first PS2 NASCAR game has come a surprisingly long way from the last time I saw it at E3. While the game is still a few weeks away from the alpha stage, the build on display looked very clean.

The most noticeable improvement is the graphics. At the demo, the game was moving pretty fast at a very high resolution. The car models were very complete - right down to the hood flaps. One of the more impressive features was the realistic way the cars showed the damage inflicted by the race. Each car has several impact points that can suffer damage, which makes for some very convincing wrecks.

The game's producer said his primary goal was to give NASCAR 2001 a Days of Thunder feel - tight pack racing and high-adrenaline driving. At the moment, the game hasn't quite captured that essence, but it's getting there.

The physics model is pretty solid, making some of the collisions simply mind boggling. Some of my favorite moments during the demo were the spinouts. Just like in real racing, if you tap the rear quarter panel of a car ahead of you, chances are you'll get it to spin out. Sometimes it flies right out of your way, and sometimes it takes you with it, and you both get locked into a spin. It's pretty awesome to see two cars spinning around on the track, tires shredding, debris flying, and smoke everywhere - like some sort of twisted dance.

NASCAR 2001 still has a way to go before its release, but judging from how it's coming along, it just might be the most intense NASCAR racing experience yet.

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