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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Electronic Arts

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q3 2005

 

 

- Good online Xbox Live racing mode
- Has the complete lineup of NASCAR drivers and cars

 

 

- Using the interactive crew chief microphone feature doesn't work well
enough to be effective
- Competing cars get too easily intimidated to giving up their spot on the track

 

 

Review: NASCAR Thunder 2004 (PlayStation 2)

Review: Burnout Revenge (PS2)

Review: NASCAR Thunder 2004 (Playstation 2)

 

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NASCAR 06

Score: 8.7 / 10

 

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Somehow, watching car racing with 40-some-odd drivers making a bunch of left turns doesn't seem like such a great spectator sport, but NASCAR is today one of the most popular spectator sports around (right behind NFL football). If the recent Chase for the Cup drama is any indication (with the "oops, I'm sorry! Didn't mean to accidentally-on-purpose crash-and-thrash your car while driving," the cussing on live television and the helmet-throwing-at-moving-cars) it's no wonder NASCAR has a rabid following. Electronic Arts has been cashing in on that popularity of NASCAR racing with its NASCAR franchise, and while NASCAR 06 retains most of the features that it has had through the years that have made it so popular amongst racing gamers, it throws in a few new additions such as squad-based racing,

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dynamic car swapping, and the interactive crew chief that should excite fans of previous EA NASCAR games to race on over to the gaming store of their choice and head for the finish line of the check-out aisle with a copy of NASCAR 06 firmly in hand.

Anybody that loves the sport of car racing, specifically NASCAR racing (and based on the amount of race fans packed into racetracks every weekend of the

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racing season, there's plenty of you out there), will have every single detail that could be possibly covered in a NASCAR simulation readily available. You can even make your own driver and own a racing team. If you prefer to just race with your favorite driver, you can do that too. They're all here, with their official cars, down to the littlest sponsor decal on the rear bumper. Quite simply, if you're a NASCAR gearhead gamer, NASCAR 06 has it all for you. It's not just NASCAR that is in NASCAR 06 either. There are the trucks of the Craftsman series, and plenty of the wacky-looking race "cars" that fill the field of the Whelen and NNS series.

Total Team Control is what the game's called this year, and total control is what you get, including the interactive crew chief feature that can implement an Xbox Live-capable headset. The orders that you can use using the right thumbstick allow you to take total control over one team on the track, swapping positions with a drive ahead of you, strategizing with them to block other drivers, and generally use the drivers to compete not as one, but as a team, just like the real NASCAR racing squads. While the controls work fine with the right thumbstick, they're not really that good using the headset. The game has a hard time deciphering your voice commands on a consistent basis (unless you start cussing, when it seems to have no problem hearing what you say and even scolding you for it).

While you can almost smell the asphalt burning with the realism of hearing your crew chief in your ear via a headset just like real drivers, the interactivity of the crew chief using the headset is just too mediocre because of the frustration of the game not properly interpreting your voice command on a regular basis.

 

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EA's done a great job bringing NASCAR 06 as close to appearing just as if you're sitting in front of your television watching a real weekend NASCAR race on FOX. The cars are exact replicas of the real deal, the drivers look good and the tracks are highly detailed and representative of the actual tracks themselves. The sound of NASCAR 06 also slams the ears with a fast and furious performance that will have you believing you're actually ripping around all those left turns yourself. As is typical with all EA sports games, NASCAR 06 has a good soundtrack filled with good tunes that get your racing juices flowing.

Gameplay is overall solid, although the competition on the tracks gets a little too intimidated when you drive with aggression and give up their spots much too easily on the race, even without you using the Intimidator feature. You have plenty of modes to keep you interested in tuning your ride and hitting the track full petal to the metal. There's a career mode, a Chase for the Cup mode (where you'll race 10 final events in the quest for the NASCAR Nextel Cup championship), and a Dodge Challenges mode (takes all the guessing out of who's one of the game's biggest in-game sponsors), where you'll undertake goal-oriented racing events taken from real races from the past. And of course there's an online mode.

Online, you'll square off against three other gamers via Xbox Live. The game pits you into a full field of over 40 cars. Generally the online action is high octane, although stuttering of graphics is normal and by the end of the race it's usually a battle of the four online players for the finish line, leaving the A.I. cars laps behind with no shot of ever winning.

It's still just basically racing around a track making left turn after left turn for a pre-determined number of laps while avoiding wiping out into other cars or the track's wall, but with a few new features and the same old standard EA Sports game-making excellence at its soul, NASCAR 06 is a must-buy for both the NASCAR Nation and "casual" car-racing gamers alike. No waiting for the checkered flag, NASCAR 06 is a winner for today's racing
gamers.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(October 8, 2005)

 

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