Nascar 2001 Review
The Nascar events are popular among many people, but not for those who have no patience. For decades Nascar has always stood for supped up cars with slightly modified body work for increased aerodynamic speed, and blazing fast engines that soar up to speeds of 200+ MPH. The Nascar license would be the ideal racing license for the casual fans, the 16-Bit era wasn't capable of producing 3D structures, that would replicate the real counterpart of a Nascar vehicle, but ever since the dawning of the 32-Bit era graced us, a Nascar game was indeed possible and a little company called EA Sports was behind the license for the next X amount of years. EA had surely had great success with their games on Genesis and Super NES, and when they arrived on the Playstation they were greeted with open arms. The first Nascar game which was Nascar Racing was well received, considering the fact it was the very first Nascar game to be released way back in '97. So let's take a look at the recently released final Nascar game on the Playstation and see what refinements have been made over last year's game.
The visuals haven't changed much between Nascar 2000 and 2001 and that isn't a very bad thing just to let you know. The visuals for 2000 were pretty good, the car models were something thought to be impossible to be done on the Playstation, but EA shocked the industry by creating some of the most visually advanced car structures right next to Gran Turismo 2. With up to 18 cars on one screen, the frame rate almost wouldn't flinch, it would stay on top there at a flat 30 FPS, and accomplishing that on the PS was a bid deal to hard headed critics like me. Car models are sharp and solid, just like they are supposed to be, and even with the PS2 version of the game on the horizon, I still find that these Nascar 2001 cars are incredibly detailed and maneuver fluidly. Since Indianapolis, New York, Daytona, Ohio and many other big cities along with their respective tracks are included, EA Sports had to go the extra mile by adding cool background details to each track. Since we are on the issue of backgrounds, Nascar 2001 has a nifty little feature in its visuals, which is a blimp (Good Year I presume) flying above the tracks, tiny inclusions like this are what make a game like Nascar 2001 more realistic than it is. If that wasn't enough, EA also included a kick ass 1st person dash board view of the car, with moving arms on steering wheel and real-time gauges such as a Tachometer and RPM gauge. The environments are nicely detailed don't offer too much variety and the pop-up is a bit noticeable. On the other hand the decals such as logos on the cars couldn't be more crisper and clearer. Final word is; the visuals are superb, for a fifth generation racing game the visuals still remain intact despite the PS' soon dissenagration from the face of the 32-Bit/64-Bit world.
Playing Nascar depends on what kind of racing you enjoy. If you prefer stock-car options your choice is Nascar, if you like Ferraris, Jaguars, Mercedes and BMWs, then Gran Turismo and Need For Speed are more what you'd rather play. I'll admit it, watching a two hour race of 30+ cars racing around a ring isn't exactly my idea of fun, but there is always that one moment when Mark Martin or Dale Jerret would spin out of control and go SMACK into a wall with tires and ruble all over the place. That one moment can be worth the two-hours, almost like a Discover card commercial if you catch my drift? Those moments are happily re-created in Nascar 2001 and thankfully nobody gets hurt, the crashes look spectacular. If anybody remembers Daytona USA for Sega Saturn and the outrageous flip crash that would happen sometimes, that crash is similar to the crash in Nascar 2001 when you would purposely collide with a car coming at you. Anyways Nascar 2001 is a game not much deeper than its predecessors, the game still features great looking damage which can also (optionally) affect your car's engine, tires, and other body parts crucial for winning a race. You will be given the option of selection around 15 tracks such as the world known Daytona and Indianapolis courses, with 39 officially licensed Nascar vehicles to choose from, and I guarantee almost every single Nascar competitor is here. With the 39 racers come, 4 custom cars can also be created from Chevy, Pontiac and Ford. The game modes for Nascar include Single Race, Tournament, Quick Race, Two Player mode and a few more. Before a race begins you have the ability to customize your juiced up cruiser any way you want to from, front weight, to rear weight and other aerodynamic features. Pit stopping is also a must but only in races with more than 30 laps of action, you can choose anywhere from 3 to 99 laps, it really depends on what stage you play. Playing standard courses (not oval loops) you should choose about 20 laps the most, if you play a course like Daytona then 75-99 laps are challenging but you can safely call yourself a full fledged Nascar racer. If you are a Nascar fan, then by all means pick up Nascar 2001, if not you should at least consider giving it a rental.
Let's be honest now, racing games need heart-pounding soundtracks to keep the action going, but sadly that is not the outcome with Nascar 2001. Instead of a killer rock soundtrack or rap soundtrack, EA Sports went with a cheesy Jazz soundtrack which at first comes out as crap, but slowly grows on you, I don't know why the soundtrack kind of gets to you, but it does. Though not all songs are great, some are trailer park trash while others are like I said grow on you. The roaring engines sound great and every car has a different sounding rev which is good points for the sound. The sound came out as a decent job, though maybe the PS2 version will feature something other than Jazz.
Manipulating your car is an easy task to do. I gave the control BIG points for the inclusion of allowing you to use both analog sticks as gas and brake (right stick) and turning left and right (left stick). The Nascar cars control like their real-life counterparts, the physics seem to have been tweaked upon over last years 2000 version. The controls have remained absolutely the same, EA didn't change anything drastically, and that is a great thing. Oh and let me mention the powerful Dual Shock, that's a point right there too.
In closing, Nascar 2001 turned out to be better than I expected it to be, the great visuals complete with a super smooth frame rate and great car models, the wonderful Nascar gameplay topped of with over 35 vehicles along with the 15+ tracks are what make Nascar 2001 the best of the series on the Playstation and Nintendo 64. Casual racing fans who love tweaking with car options should check out Nascar 2001, those who are more Test Drive and Need for Speed should at least rent, and if you enjoy Nascar in general then you have to pick this one up right now!