Perfectly captures the NASCAR racing experience for gamers
- More opportunity to set cars to your own comfortable drivability with adjustable car handling
New features are nothing more than tweaks instead of gameplay innovations
- There’s an increased awareness of speed, but only by a slightly noticeable margin from NASCAR 06
- While the cars nicely represent the actual NASCAR teams authentically, overall graphical performance in need of some fine-tuning under the hood
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8.5 / 10
Life’s one left turn at high speed after another. At least, that is, if you’re a NASCAR driver. Capturing the life of the men behind the wheels on the NASCAR circuit perfectly is Electronic Arts’ NASCAR 07, the newest entrant in the company’s NASCAR franchise. Essentially an updated version of NASCAR 06, with more balanced-to-your-liking setting choices. And much like every other EA Sports title, NASCAR 07 finally has performance (of the drivers) based on real-life attributes. Despite not much else new beside a minor tune-up of gameplay, for anybody that’s a fan of NASCAR racing, NASCAR 07 will once again get his or her motor running fast and furious.
Returning are a plethora of modes from last year, as gamers can choose to race an entire season; Fight to the Top, where you can get involved as the team owner (and all the sponsorship and financial concerns that being an owner involves); Dodge Challenges to test your ultimate driving skills in specific situations from the history of NASCAR racing; and the Chase for the Cup, as you take on a select few other drivers for the NEXTEL Cup championship. No matter what NASCAR experience you’re looking for, NASCAR 07 has a mode to meet your demand.
The cars in NASCAR 07 nicely represent the actual NASCAR teams authentically. And the racetracks themselves also are detailed. But overall graphical performance in NASCAR 07 is in need of some fine-tuning under the hood, as these visuals are still not what anybody would consider nitrous-boosted.
There is a slightly noticeable increase in the vehicular speed while you’re racing around the track at 200 mph, so gameplay does seem a bit more rapid than
before, due to the screen blur and force feedback effects you’ll encounter. More assisting to you racing performance is the new adjustable car-handling abilities that allow you to set your car’s settings to suit your own personal tastes. By driving well, you can also increase your driver’s skill set, with the variable driver attribute system, working your way up from a NASCAR rookie to ripping up the asphalt and transforming into a checkered-flag-collecting success.
Even without adjustments, NASCAR 07 still seems to handle and sport tighter controls better than ever before, which is a big boost to your chances of winning checkered flag after checkered flag. That even holds true when you’re racing online over Xbox Live, where if you modify smartly enough to build the perfect car, you’ll experience consistent cyberspace triumphs.
As a single-player undertaking, NASCAR 07 allows you to choose your favorite driver, boost him and his car’s performance with skill points you’ll earn and challenge for the penultimate goal, winning “The Chase” and the accompanying NEXTEL Cup title. Your Adrenaline Meter, which you’ll boost from handling extremely taxing track situations, also is another opportunity to increase your skills as you chase the crown.
Collecting skill points is a major component of NASCAR 07, as the more skills points you have, the better car and driver you can afford to support. It’s not just your driving skills that play into your success, either. You must once again form alliances and avoid starting grudges with other drivers, who will aggressively retort with fender-bending and straight-out metal-twisting tactics against you if you cause them, through your reckless abandon on the track, to become a revengeful enemy.
Driver attribute ratings present a much tougher level of challenge than before, because better drivers will give you stiffer challenges on the various tracks of the NASCAR circuit. And certain drivers will be better on certain types of tracks (like Jeff Gordon, who’s practically a unstoppable force on the road tracks).
The Intimidator feature, where you can use the “friendly” persuasion of bumper bumping to gain advantageous positioning on the track, is another familiar gameplay facet.
Also returning is the “hot swap” that allows you to switch between team drivers during the race to move up both individually and team-wise in the race’s and overall standings.
In addition to the NASCAR races, you can also compete in Whelen Modified Series, Craftsmen Trucks and NBS competition, although most gamers will probably spend their time caroming around the NASCAR tracks and races.
Gameplay additions this year feature just a few new components – driver ratings, the Adrenaline Meter, adjustable car handling – and they really turn out to be tweaks instead of innovations. Still, as NASCAR 06 wasn’t in major need of innovation, those tweaks serve to ignite already good NASCAR racing to appeal to the left-turning driver in all Xbox gamers as another solid, winning-the-checkered-flag NASCAR franchise entry from EA.