NASCAR Racing 2002
To most gamers, racing simulations aren’t as glamorous as first-person shooters, role-playing, or strategy games. But then you have Papyrus Racing Games, a company that you could argue is the “id Software” of racing sims. The company is devoted to producing such simulations with maximum attention to detail, something it’s been doing rather well since Indianapolis 500 of 1989. NASCAR Racing 2002, a sports series with yearly editions, offers some cool incremental changes – a few new features, tweaks, improvements, but nothing radically different.
Papyrus finally understood that people want to have fun right out of the box, and with NASCAR 2002 is trying to appeal to the person who wants to play 5-10 minutes at a time as well as the person who’s going to spend the next six months wringing every ounce of enjoyment they can from it. For new players, there’s now steering assistance if you select a digital controller (keyboard or gamepad), though you’ll still be better off in the long-run weaning yourself off of driver aids as soon as possible. There’s also a new “best line” through turns, one that’s color coded (like the one in Gran Tourismo 3) to represent when to get on or off the throttle and/or brake.
A new feature, the Highlight Theater, was designed primarily as an in-house tool for Papyrus to create tutorials for each track, but it’s been integrated into the full game. Each tutorial is narrated by Darrell Waltrip, and includes more general driving lessons, on generic racing issues like passing, drafting, and strategy. It’s a lovely extra for new players. You can also edit your own replays, re-arranging the action while choosing camera angles.
The graphics count as one of the most striking upgrades from NASCAR 4, followed by the audio. The gameâ€™s sound effects have been similarly tweaked (the tortuous crunching sound of a stripped gearbox rejecting your downshift has to be experienced to be believed), as have the high-fidelity vehicle dynamics and driver AI. An enhanced tire-modeling routine produces noticeably superior â€œfeelâ€ from each of the cars, and the gameâ€™s fully scalable computer opponents now exhibit a whole new bag of race smarts, particularly during the pit-stop and caution periods.
Of course, all of the other features that made NASCAR 4 such a standout â€” exceptional multiplayer support, convincing damage model, superb force-feedback, comprehensive garage menu, NASCAR licensing â€” have all returned with equal vengeance, each subtly improved in some way or another.
System Requirements: Pentium MMX 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95