If you’re a hardcore gearhead who loves realistic racing games, you will probably be interested in checking out NASCAR the Game: Inside Line for PS3. Developed by Eutechnyx, this is a sequel to NASCAR the Game: 2011. If, however, you purely enjoy the simple pleasures of racing around a variety of tracks, this game may prove to be frustrating. Yes, zooming around the track is ultimately what you do in Inside Line, but the difficult control and maneuverability take some of the basic fun out of it (maybe I’m just nostalgic for Pole Position).
Players of Inside Line can jump in and start racing right away or they can choose the career mode. The latter allows them to embark on a journey from rookie driver to experienced pro. The game is probably most fun specifically for fans of NASCAR, and, as suggested above, may prove challenging (if not unplayable) for the more casual racing game fan.
The most agonizing aspect of Inside Line is the maneuverability. Even in the easiest mode, the car can be very difficult to steer. The slightest slipup often causes the car to careen into the barriers or other vehicles (which at least provides some entertaining replay clips). Even just the slightest weaving on the track can slow the vehicle down, resulting in many last place finishes until you get the hang of driving. The learning curve is fairly steep.
Crashing into other cars and the barriers also causes the player to get a caution. Too many cautions results in the cars being realigned to restart the race at whatever lap they’re on. This drags the momentum of the race down to a punishing pace, adding much more time to each race. It must be pointed out that cautions can be disabled in order to avoid this process. Needless to say, getting the driving basics down in order to race competently can be a tedious process.
Once one gets the hang of driving, the game has a good deal to offer. Choosing career mode will start the player as a rookie driver who must prove himself by qualifying for races and earning sponsorships. As drivers rise through the ranks, players can customize their vehicles with upgradable components. Players are allowed to race as, and against, well-known NASCAR drivers on realistically rendered NASCAR tracks. As a casual racing game fan, for the most part I didn’t find that the different tracks offered all that much variation. True NASCAR buffs though will likely appreciate having these 23 real tracks replicated for the game.