NASCAR Revolution is yet another beginner to intermediate racing sim. Many aspects of the game were clearly designed to make it as accessible as possible, yet the interface has a severe split-personality disorder. The telemetry system overlays data onto a video replay. It’s brilliantly intuitive, making analysis accessible and entertaining to just about anyone. However, much of the rest of the interface is an exercise in counter-intuitive design. Menu screens and the “Car Setup” menu are certain to be a source of colorful language in the home.
Sadly, the physics are left to be desired, and many parts of the game don’t work right or are just plain broken. This isn’t simply a matter of a few issues that only hardcore players would notice, either. The cars handling only works right in a narrow range of conditions, exhibiting severe front-end push, virtually no oversteer at all, weak brakes, and ineffectual throttle modulation. Throw in a useless spotter, various pit-stop flaws, unrealistic effects from setup tuning, ridiculous implementation of the yellow flag, and far too many crashes from other cars and what you get is pure frustration.
The really annoying part is that in some cases, on some of the tracks, all the planets fall into alignment and you really can experience what the design team was trying to achieve. At times like this, the game becomes really engrossing. You’ll find yourself racing lap after lap fighting your way to the frontrunners, then waging incredibly epic battles as you go at it tooth and nail trying to grab and hold just one more position. Just as intended, handling is still a challenge, but secondary to the intense competition. You can even find yourself running late into the night, saying “Just one more time!”
If only the game spent another full quarter of refinement this could have been the ultimate NASCAR action game or entry-level sim. Unfortunately, with its frustrating gameplay and lackluster attention to important details, NASCAR Revolution simply falls far short.
System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win98
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