One has to wonder why Electronic Arts decided to make NASCAR Road Racing when they had the far superior NASCAR 2000 waiting in the wings. While this game is well done and fun to play (although extremely difficult), it lacks a lot of the features which make its cousin a superior stock car racing game.
Like NASCAR 2000, you can race as well-known drivers such as Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte, Dale Earnhardt and others, although I don't see what difference your selection makes beyond the color scheme of your car and its basic statistics. To me, it's not like playing a baseball game and choosing between Mark McGwire and some guy who hit .142 last year. I didn't notice any difference in car handling when playing with different drivers, and you can tweak some options such as the air dam and spoiler to suit your preferences anyway.
I was also disappointed that this game has no circuit or season options. You have twelve tracks to choose from, but all you can do is qualify on them and then race. No championships or anything like that. Admittedly, these are fictitious tracks (hence the "road racing" part of the name), but playing in a series of races for points and trying to be the overall winner at the end is an integral part of most racing games whether it's a goofy game like LEGO Racers or a realistic NASCAR one.
Surprisingly, you can't play against a friend either. This is a one-player game only, which is a shame.
The best part of NASCAR Road Racing is the beauty of the fantasy tracks. The Meibashi Speedway in Japan, for example, has beautiful Japanese slope-roofed architecture scattered around it while the Oasis Raceway in Utah has the player zooming through canyons. The Kings Beach track in Florida has, interestingly enough, gorgeous hills reminiscent of the ones seen throughout northern California. I was expecting an ocean view, but the track is still great to look at. The developers obviously put a lot of time and care into all of the environmental graphics in this game.
The cars themselves are nice too, and I like the multiple views, especially the one which puts you in the driver's seat. I don't understand why anyone would want to play from the point-of-view of a camera mounted on the front of the car, though. That seemed to be a pointless inclusion. One of the most spectacular aspects of racing -- the crashes and car damage -- is missing from this game, however. NASCAR 2000 gives you showers of sparks and a bent hood when you hit other cars or a wall and sends up plumes of smoke when you get damaged, but NASCAR Road Racing doesn't offer any of that. The best you can hope for is a wheel bouncing away and your car flipping over, even if you run straight into a wall with normal damage and turn equipment failure on.
Overall, this is a nice title, but racing fans are advised to pass it over in favor of a more complete package such as NASCAR 2000.
Graphics: Beautiful work. Would be a perfect 5 if not for the lack of good graphics when your car crashes.
Sound: I like the crunchy sound your car makes when you run across the grass or the squeal you hear when you accelerate hard. The announcing and pit crew chatter during the race is minimal, however.
Enjoyment: I like this game, but I wish it had more features to encourage replay such as a season mode.
Replay Value: Once you've raced all 12 tracks there isn't anything else to do.
People who downloaded NASCAR Road Racing have also downloaded:
NASCAR Revolution SE, NASCAR Racing 3, NASCAR Thunder 2003, NASCAR Thunder 2004, NASCAR Racing 4, NASCAR Heat, NASCAR Racing 2002 Season, NASCAR Racing 2003 Season
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