Continuing the series that began in 1994, Papyrus Design Group brings the 1999 NASCAR season to players craving a need for speed with an offering of both Winston Cup and Busch Series stock car racing. Featuring all 28 tracks, a host of NASCAR drivers to play as or compete against, and a competitive AI that will race four-wide when necessary, NASCAR Racing 3 incorporates nearly every aspect of weekend racing. From pit strategy and practice runs to race strategy and skill, players can experience the thrill of racing the likes of Dale Earnhardt and Dale Jarrett to the finish line at Daytona or Talladega to the frustration of a multi-car pileup at the half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway.
Finesse, patience, intuition, and raw nerves are part of the on-track equation to being a successful NASCAR driver and are the same traits necessary that make the difference between winning in NASCAR Racing 3 and finishing back in the pack. While on-track skills are paramount, off-track activity such as pit crew performance, pre-race car setups, fine tuning, and in-race adjustments (wedge, spoiler, and tires) can often spell the difference between success and failure as well.
Racecars in NASCAR Racing 3 contain realistic dashboard displays (warning lights, oil, water and fuel gauges, tachometer), in-car radio (spotters and pit crew chief), multiple views, and more. New to the series is the use of grille tape for cooling or heating engines and sway bars, as well as a revamped physics engine designed to replicate real-life handling of these 750 horsepower machines. Every detail of racing, ranging from under and over steering to shocks and weight distribution, ensure realism when players climb through the window on race day.
NASCAR Racing 3 supports multiplayer racing via LAN or the Internet (up to four clients on an ISDN connection, two via analog modem), provides a detailing shop for painting and personalizing cars, and over a dozen optional graphics settings. In addition to multiplayer action, players can opt for Single Race or full season Championship events, as well as realistic or arcade style racing, limits on damage control, and instant replays.
Papyrus has long been called the king of NASCAR simulations: their series is "the best selling PC NASCAR racing series ever," as the box declares. But, is NASCAR Racing 3 as much an improvement over NASCAR 2 as everyone hopes?
In NASCAR Racing 3, you can compete in single races, championship seasons, or multipayer. All methods of gameplay have many customizable options, including the length of the races, size of the field, pace laps, yellow flags, double file restarts, and damage (so you can disable it and ram into whomever you want).
Some of the Winston Cup and Busch Grand National series drivers are included, but, alas, the full 43 car field is completed with imaginary drivers, most likely programmers at Papyrus. All but 2 of the Winston and Busch tracks are present, with Daytona (see Sega's Daytona USA for explanation) and Pocono (which I still can't figure out). Indianapolis Motor Speedway is added, so you can invade The Brickyard.
The most noticeable changes from NASCAR 2 are in the graphics department. Much to my disappointment, Papyrus did not stick with the original plan of using the Grand Prix Legends 3-D engine (main advantage: flipping cars), and so the overall appearance is basically the same as in NASCAR 2.
Don't get me wrong-- the graphics are great, especially 3-D accelerated. All of the tracks are beautifully recreated (with the exception of some curved pit roads) with attention to detail: the flagger waves his flags and the caution lights around the race track flash.
The most notable differences from NASCAR 2 involve when cars start occupying the same space. Tire s on the track are dynamic: you can see where past wrecks have occurred. Also, smoke floats in the air, and it's really hard to see through it. Think back to the movie Days of Thunder when Cole Trickle tries to go high around the wreck, only to slam right into a car. Trust me, you'll do this on many occasions.
With 3-D sound installed, the crashes sound like they really hurt and the tires squeal if you push them too hard. Also, your crew chief and spotter inform you of all the happenings around you and the racetrack. The spotter freaks out when a wreck happens ("There's a wreck in Turn 3! Go High! Go High!"). They are pretty helpful, though: if a car is on the inside, they'll let you know.
The gameplay is everything you would expect from Papyrus: impressive racing! The AI is improved compared to NASCAR 2: if you fall behind, you can always set them to 80% and lap the field 20 times. The AI will bump you for position, and you will most definitely bump them back. The only AI problems arise when a huge wreck happens (they decide to park it on the racetrack) or when caution comes out (they slow down and speed up for no apparent reason).
The speed feels very real, especially if you slam into the wall going 180+ mph. Pit road speeds are realistic as well: if you go too fast, you will be black flagged. If you ever see a cool wreck, you can exit and replay it over and over again, or save it and show your friends, most of which you will lose while playing this game for hours on end. I cannot express how it feels to ride around any of the tracks: you just have to see it for yourself (much like The Matrix).
Overall, this game is very, very cool. If you have yet to buy a NASCAR simulation for your PC, make sure to pick this up. This is definitely the best stock car game for the PC. But, if you do have a copy of NASCAR 2, I would wait until the next generation of NASCAR Racing. The differences between NASCAR 2 and 3 are small.
People who downloaded NASCAR Racing 3 have also downloaded:
NASCAR Racing 4, NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, Nascar Racing 2, NASCAR Racing 2002 Season, NASCAR Thunder 2004, NASCAR Heat, NASCAR Revolution SE, NASCAR Legends
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