NASCAR 2001 Preview

EA returns with the newest entry in its NASCAR line of racers. Fans of the series and of NASCAR itself will appreciate the game's new features.


Electronic Arts is supporting the upcoming PlayStation 2 in a big way. At the same time, its biggest market is its development for the original PlayStation, so we're bound to see a bit of overlap between the two systems during the transitional phase from old to new. One case of such overlap is NASCAR 2001, currently in production for both consoles. Though the PlayStation version will obviously lack the generational leap in graphics and sound quality its big brother will enjoy, it seems that it will retain the gameplay and features that make the series popular.

NASCAR 2001 is pushing the envelope of realism in 32-bit stock-car racing. The game is built on an entirely new engine that promises not only improved graphics but also better gameplay and control, thanks to a more fully developed physics model. EA is also implementing finely tuned artificial intelligence to make the game more challenging and realistic, especially for the seasoned NASCAR aficionados. Longtime fans will notice that specific drivers in NASCAR 2001 behave on the racetrack much like their real-life counterparts do in actual races.

Speaking of drivers and tracks, NASCAR 2001 has a lot of both. The game features 35 drivers and their respective cars. Of course, current favorites such as Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt are included, but you will also get a few blasts from the past, such as the king himself, Richard Petty. The lineup of tracks is equally impressive, covering all the major NASCAR courses. For the first time ever in a game, the coveted Daytona track will also be available for racing. In addition, several "fantasy tracks," based in places like New York and Hawaii, will be included.

Of course, NASCAR 2001 will feature all the gameplay modes you'd expect in such a game. Players in it for the long haul can race an entire season and vie for the championship, but those looking for a quicker racing fix can just jump into a single race without all the formality. It looks like NASCAR 2001 is a solid improvement over past titles, so if you're not planning to upgrade to PlayStation 2 for a while but need up-to-date NASCAR action, look for the PlayStation version when it releases in the fall.

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