The roaring of the crowds. The burnt rubber and fume smells exhaling from the cars. The obnoxious white trash woman wearing a Dixie Flag tank top and cut-offs sitting in front of you smoking cheap cigarettes and downing her umpteenth beer in that hour (and who would probably stand out even at Walmart). Yes, thanks to the incredible world of video games, you too can now enjoy the sights and sounds of NASCAR racing — without the moral and psychological detriments one might obtain from the latter. Actually, truth be told here, kids, you don’t have to experience any of the aforementioned sensations (good or bad), because you’re in the driver’s seat — safely hidden away from the strange people in the stands.
Being in the driver’s seat brings its own dangers, though. Things like blowouts, crashes, death and even professional racing careers.
Look, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: NASCAR is not a sport. I’m not alone on this one, either. But that doesn’t stop video game developers from exploiting gullible members of the public in order to make more money — which, I suppose, is exactly what the sponsors of NASCAR races do, so I guess it’s OK, eh?
In Activision’s NASCAR 2011: The Game, players get to start out in a championship. From there, you can build up your own illustrious and overvalued occupation as a first-class driver. Customize your vehicle to your liking by plastering it with an obscene number of sponsor logos — or do like I did and slap a bunch of French flags on your purple racecar just so you can pretend you’re irritating the rednecks in the audience. No matter how you sketch out your automobile or your livelihood, however, NASCAR 2011: The Game — much like the real deal — boils down to one thing and one thing alone: your ability to drive.
Unless you’re a regular pro at racing games, you might find that NASCAR 2011: The Game can become a real bore mighty fast. One reason is that it’s easy to get behind in the game — and it’s mighty tough to get back in the running again. And there’s no amount of driving in the wrong direction just so you can collide with your oncoming opponents that’ll make up for the feeling of abandonment you may experience once your pack buddies leave you behind. Another reason is that the little voice in your head (actually, from the pit) telling you what you’re doing wrong isn’t always timely. In fact, he’s usually late in dishing out some suggestions that would probably come in handy had he have been on the ball.