NASCAR The Game Update Doesn’t Repair Damage, Still Laps Down

“NASCAR The Game 2011 + Downloadable Content and Patch” Reviewed for: Playstation 3

Also available for: Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii (without add-on content)

This is actually Ranting and Raving’s second review of NASCAR The Game 2011. Brett spearheaded the firstand gave a less than spirited account of what he experienced.

Not one offered a rebuttal.

The game was officially announced in September but wasn’t finished in time for its original February release date. When the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions finally hit stores in April, gamers received an outdated, incomplete and generally rusty presentation of the NASCAR experience.

Nintendo Wii owners received even less and had to wait until June to play what was essentially a quarter-arcade version of the 2010 Sprint Cup Series schedule.

The developers responded with apologies and promises to patch the numerous bugs, glitches and inaccuracies found in their first attempt. The patch and DLC (Downloadable Content) was first promised for May and later June before finally hitting the networks this past week.

Given the almost five months it took for them to release the update, fans had lofty expectations. Were they met?

The answer lies after the jump.

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Let’s start with the good.

Visuals:

A major attraction to the new content is the current roster, schedule, and tracks – something ridiculously missing from a game titled “2011.”

The developers spent most of their time updating paint schemes and track layouts and the results were fantastic. Major changes come in the form of Daytona’s new track surface, Charlotte’s new Megatron video screen and authentic night racing.

The changes to Daytona are just optical as the original layout didn’t feel bumpy in the slightest.The renders were never an issue with the original release and the update managed to improve on this aspect even more. The cars look fantastic during the starting lineup cutscene but its downhill from there.

The damage models still suck.

There’s just no other way to put it. The developers spent five months modifying nothing but car renders and somehow couldn’t find the time to do one thing about the damage ratios? We’ll quote Brett’s original review considering not a single thing has changed:

“This is one of the most underwhelming, and inconsistent, damage models I have ever seen. For starters, if you damage any part of the side, it damages the entire side of the car. I’ve had moments where I drifted the car a bit, smacked the wall with just the rear of the car, and then changed views to find that even the front part of the side was damaged. And not just “slid against the wall” damaged, I mean, “pieces hanging off” damage.

That’s another thing. Even sliding against the wall for a brief second will completely total your car.

And then, there’s this…

cars

When I said inconsistent, I meant it. One of these images is the aftermath of a full speed, head-on collision with the wall, that even made my car go off the ground for a couple seconds. The other is the aftermath of simple bump drafting. Can you tell which is which?

In the tradition of old shampoo commercials, if you can’t tell why should I?

Add in that computer controlled cars get ZERO damage no matter how hard they hit (I saw David Ragan once flip 12 times, and then drive away, with no damage), and you just get a horrible horrible excuse for a (damage) model.”

Audio:

Ty Norris returned as the spotter and he’s considerably toned down from the original release.

Thankfully missing are popular phrases like, “Oops, I just dropped my hotdog on some fans,” and “The Hendrick boys want pizza and I told ‘em you were buying.”

Instead, there’s a steady stream of “outside/inside” and “There’s a line coming up on you fast,” just how a legitimate spotter would operate.

That’s considered an upgrade.

How Norris, a NASCAR lifer, thought the wisecracks merited inclusion is beyond us. Not one player we’ve talked to was amused.

The menu music is unchanged meaning ZZ Top’s La Grange is still the first thing you’ll hear. (What in the hell were they saying in that song anyway?)

Gameplay:

The most disappointing aspect of both releases was found at its core – the gameplay.

Old bugs have been replaced by new ones with pitting under caution remaining a major disaster. Under the first release, leaders would check to get under pit road speed and the field would just pile into him. After the DLC, the leader checks and cars will either make pit road or choose to turn right and miss it entirely, often hitting the outside barrier.

Under green flag conditions, some cars will crash and their prone machines will stay halted on the groove until another car hits them to finally bring out the caution. It’s akin fixing a problem with a problem.

It’s clear that the developers spent more time updating aesthetics rather than fixing the original mess they sold to consumers in the first place. If the April release was their first mulligan, the DLC was their last.

NASCAR The Game 2012 will not be a day one buy when it comes out in 2014 or whenever Eutechnyx/Activision gets around to it.