Review - NASCAR Racing (DOS, 1994)

NASCAR Racing looks and handles a lot like IndyCar Racing, which many people will find to be a positive endorsement of the game. Papyrus hasn't been idle, however, and NASCAR's engine does sport some new features, such as visible car damage. For example, your hood may be crumpled in a collision, and may be removed when you enter the pits. Of course, the best improvement over the IndyCar engine is that, as long as your machine has the horsepower, the game will run in Super VGA.

NASCAR Racing includes nine race tracks, which offer a good cross-section of the tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Tracks include Watkins Glen International, a tough road course (but then again, what road course isn't tough?). Talladega is a long track on which you can work up some real speed. And you get one of NASCAR's toughest tracks, Bristol. With the nine tracks, you can compete in the hunt for the season championship. Of course a season championship is not easy when you consider the fact that a single race alone is a good challenge in itself. Throw in several of NASCAR's finest drivers and cars and you have a season-long battle with forty other drivers chasing the title. Not all of the big name drivers are included, but there are more than enough to give any other driver a headache. You will face the likes of Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin and Ernie Irvin. Trust me, with full realism, it won't be easy.

Like IndyCar, NASCAR Racing allows you to alter many of your car's attributes. These range from the functional to the purely cosmetic. Not only can you configure your hardware in the garage, you can bring your speed machine to the paint shop, where you can paint your car and add a few sponsor decals to make it look a little more authentic. After your car looks the way you want it to you can test it to see how it handles on the track. After testing, you may wish to alter several other elements of your car. If you want to have a little more power in the turns, lower your gear ratio. If you have a handling problem, you can alter tire pressures, shock stiffness, weight displacement and tire stagger. You can also adjust your spoilers to get the correct downforce needed to keep you glued to the track in the turns.

The physics model in the game is very sophisticated, allowing for such diverse tricks as drafting. In fact, the car's handling may change over the course of an afternoon race. As far as that is concerned, control is superb, and while the keyboard or a joystick is adequate, NASCAR works best with a driving control system.

NASCAR Racing has all the features we've come to expect from Papyrus. The game feels like driving a real car, so everyone over the age of sixteen has a real-world referent to relate it to – yet that realism extends below the surface of this superb simulation, and is sure to satisfy the fussiest fast-track fan. The only drawback to the game is that not all of the big name drivers and cars are included – a minor kvetch, to be sure, given Papyrus' penchant for providing product support in the form of new track packs. Be prepared to spend more time playing NASCAR Racing than any anyone in your Friends and Family calling circle will like. But be ready for a challenge, because this ain't no Sunday afternoon drive in the country.

Play the demo for this game directly in your browser