Yet another week where I take a look at a game that is a bit more recent – in fact it is one of the newest games on the market and has caused a bit of a stir by offering a lower price tag than what is standard on most racing arcade cabs. But does the lower price tag translate into a game that is worth your hard-earned quarters? Read on!
EA NASCAR Racing by Global VR
Players: 1-10 (via linked cabinets)
Cabinet editions: 3 (Standard, Deluxe, and Motion Deluxe)
While there have been other games that attempt to recreate the NASCAR experience, NASCAR arcade is about as close as it gets to the real thing without actually doing it. Featuring 6 licensed tracks and all the well-known NASCAR drivers and their cars, players can get an experience unlike what a game console has to offer. When the first reports from the location testing started coming through on NASCAR they said that there were lines of people waiting to play this game. After getting a chance to play it myself, I could see where the popularity is coming from.
First off it is obvious that NASCAR is an arcade racing game. Everyone knows that the arcade industry has many different racing games a player can choose from as the market has been somewhat saturated with the genre for many years now because the arcade can create a far better experience than at home. That said, it shouldn’t mean that every racer that comes along is the “best game evar!”. So there are certain things you can expect to see, such as checkpoints and a highscore board. Beyond that, how does NASCAR stack up to other racers?
One thing I noticed that is different off the bat is most racers have you racing against 7 other opponents while NASCAR pits you against 30. The addition of more cars makes for a somewhat different experience – it is true that means you have more to worry about when it comes to placement but that’s part of the fun of the game I found – it is far more satisfying to get 1st place ahead of 30 opponents as opposed to 7.
While you will be driving at nearly 200 MPH a good deal of the time, you get ahead by drafting. This is also something that while it isn’t new to NASCAR, it’s certainly much more essential to the gameplay than on any other arcade racer I have played. Drafting is the technique of gaining speed by following an opponent car directly from the rear. If you draft enough, you will be rewarded with a temporary speed boost that can help throw you ahead of an opponent or two.
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NASCAR benefits from having real NASCAR racing tracks to race on as well as the likeness of the drivers and their cars. For fans, this would be a must. But having licensed material does not a great game make (case in point -pretty much every movie based game ever made) – it simply helps the game feel authentic. Most importantly is how it plays. But getting back on the authenticity, because of this you will not encounter certain obstacles on the tracks, such as jumps, trees, buildings to run into, etc. Your only obstacles are other cars and the wall. There are plenty of turns to take as well but if you pull them off right you can get ahead. You can run another car off the track but be careful so you don’t spin out yourself. I didn’t really try it but it appears as though you can cause some spectacular crashes as well. One thing that fans may find disappointing is there is no pit to drive into. Generally you don’t get that with arcade racers anyways as damage to your car is typically superficial but if someone is expecting to pull into the pit and watch the pit crew spring into action, you’ll come away disappointed. That would disrupt from the flow of the game however and I didn’t find it annoying to be missing from the game.
The game features standard racer controls – a force feedback steering wheel (which responds quite nicely), a stick shift (if you choose manual control) and a brake and gas pedal. The controls respond as they should but I also was playing on a cabinet that was brand new. In addition to that there are a few buttons you have that controls certain aspects of the game – a Start button, a view button (there are 3 views to choose from – I did not particularly like the cockpit view but I have never like that on my racers anyways) and a music button (I’ll talk about that in a minute).
NASCAR is a nice looking game that compared to some of GlobalVR’s latest offerings such as Puck Off or America’s Army, it looks like gold. Running off an nVidia 7600 series card and a widescreen hi-res LCD monitor, NASCAR is pleasing to the eye. While I wouldn’t put it in the same boundaries as ID4, the graphics won’t disappoint. Every car looks nice and is quite detailed with all the different ad companies logos; the frame rate is constantly solid and there are a number of nice effects that compliment the gameplay including shattering particles, soft shadows, smoke effects and motion blur. There are plenty of details to catch in the background as well, from the stadium to things flying in the sky. The only thing that would have made the overall presentation nicer would have been anti-aliasing to elminate some jagged edges.
I was impressed with the audio package that NASCAR provided. The soundtrack featured a variety of alternative rock tracks from several bands (I didn’t have a notepad or cell phone to record which ones). The tracks fit in perfectly with the action and one nice touch was being able to adjust the volume of the music by pressing the music button. That is especially nice as sometimes operators set the volume way too low. You also get to hear communiques from your pit crew which was a nice touch. While the entire package wasn’t as impressive as say SF Rush 2049, I came away liking what I heard.
There are three cabinet designs for NASCAR -Standard, Deluxe and Motion Deluxe (pictured below). I played on the Standard cabinet and while it doesn’t have all the features that you get with the deluxe cabinet (such as the rollcage) it was one of the nicer cabinets in the store (I played this at a distributor). The monitor was 32″ widescreen and it filled my view perfectly. There also was a good deal of artwork on the cabinet so it didn’t look too plain.
I did not have a chance to play the game linked but I can imagine that it would be a blast.
NASCAR is a great game and it will probably take a place in arcades much like Daytona. It may not be the racer that everyone will love – for example there are no shortcuts to take which is generally a staple in arcade racers or jumps to catch some air on but what it has is solid and fun. Two thumbs up from me!