Review: NASCAR The Game 2011 (Wii)

Left turn boredom or fast car action?

Developer: Eutechnyx
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: May 24th, 2011
Score: 3.5 / 5

Ah the thrill of cars zooming past, an ice cold beer, and a hot dog. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I am speaking of NASCAR The Game 2011. To all the die-hard NASCAR fans, do not fret. I made sure to put Jeff Gordon into the wall as often as possible.

When you start the game up, you’ll be presented with a stylized menu, which I was pretty impressed with.  Generally this tends to be a bare-bones experience, but not here.  NASCAR 2011 seems to have put more time and effort into the menu, making it more visually appealing.  As is a standard for me regardless of the game I play, I adjust the audio and visual settings to ensure maximum enjoyment. The game offers a great selection of music, however, you only hear the music in the menus and garage, not while actually racing.

NASCAR 2011 has the standard 3 game modes, career, single player (arcade), and multi-player. The career mode gives you another menu to choose what you would like to do.

Let’s start with the single player mode. Here you are given the option to choose your car based on make or paint scheme. After making your selection you are able to choose to play an elimination race or standard race.   You’ll have many options with this including how many laps you want the race to be, the level of difficulty of the computer drivers, the damage to vehicles (whether you want to have tire wear and fuel loss added to the standard cosmetic damage or not), and finally driver assistance settings.

Unfortunately the multi-player mode I was a little disappointed in. The only option for multi-player is split-screen. As there is no Wi-Fi Connection logo on the box, there’s no online sadly.  At least you are still able to invite your friends over and school them on the art of NASCAR racing. Game setup is simple, you and your friend choose your respective favorite drivers, and follow the same setup as single player mode.  Here is the kicker that does make the multi-player mode enjoyable…putting your friend in the wall as many times as possible while laughing your way to the finish line.

Now on to the mode I was ambivalent about, the career mode. When selecting “Career” you have the option to select an existing driver or create your own. You are even able to decide which company you race for.   After creating your driver you are able to select what model car you would like to drive. Your choices are Chevy, Ford, Dodge, and Toyota. Toyota makes great cars but with the recent recalls for the anti-lock software malfunction, mechanical sticking of the accelerator pedal, and pedal entrapment caused by the placement of the floor mats it is probably not the most ideal car to pick for racing.  All jokes aside, that particular manufacturer wasn’t bad, but their car wasn’t my cup of tea.  After selecting your car you begin your career with the first couple of races.

One good feature I liked about the career mode is as you are loading your personal career, it presents you with a brief tutorial that gives you tips on drafting, bump drafting, Pit Road, how to select what you want done in the pit, and tips about the dos and don’ts of getting around rivals and drivers. It even gives you a tutorial on how to rewind the race a little to try again at avoiding a crash. That’s right folks. Rewind. You also gain “NXP” which is basically experience points to increase your driver’s reputation and unlock different paint schemes.

As you race you have chances to complete challenges to gain sponsors which give you bonus NXP.  If you get tired of going through the career you have the option to exit to the garage>  Here you are able to see the challenges needed to unlock sponsors as well as racing through Invitational Races where you can gain extra NXP and unlock different accolades.

With as many positives the game has, there were bound to be some drawbacks. First and foremost is the music volume while in the garage. Even if you turn the volume to max in the audio options it is still low. The only way I was able to hear it was to turn my TV volume way up then turn it back down when I begin playing.

Controls had their ups and downs as well.  You are able to use the Wii Wheel, however, I found the sensitivity of the Wii Wheel to be too low with no option to adjust the sensitivity.  I decided to use the D-Pad, seeing as it was the only other option and found I was doing better at the game by doing so. After using the D-Pad to play a while however, my thumbs became sore because of how small the buttons on the Wii Remote are.   This game may not the best for gamers that can spend hours on end doing nothing but play video games.

Another downside appeared in Career Mode. I found the options to customize your car lacking. You are given preset paint schemes that you are able to unlock, but that’s about it. I would have liked to have seen more customizable options for your car not have to settle for a preset.

All in all I found NASCAR The Game 2011 a decent game. I give it a 3.5 because the gameplay itself was enjoyable. Once you get the hang of the game after a few races you’ll be making the Pole and putting all your most hated drivers in the wall.