Even though I've consistently proven myself inept at it time and time again, I'd like to think that I'm capable of not only playing racing games, but also of downright dominating them. Which is why, of course, that a spiffy new copy of NASCAR '08 has found its way into my house and onto my bedroom television via my Xbox 360. Now that it's here and has been run through its paces (i.e. dominated me and my pathetic notions of having "electronic game" in the world of video game racing) let's have a look see at what I've gotten myself into.
The simplest way to describe the way that NASCAR '08 looks is to just have someone come over to my house while an actual NASCAR race is taking place on television and tell them that it pretty much looks "like that!" In short, it's gorgeous. From the heat waves coming off of the track, the shine of the sun (or the electric lights, if racing at night) hitting the gleaming paint on the racecars (or trucks) to the wrinkles in the Pit Crew's uniforms… in the midst of a game; it's visually stunning.
Despite the fact that the game is limited to the sounds that one would expect from any game bearing the NASCAR moniker — radios chattering, tire squealing, engines growling, crowds cheering — it's damned impressive, nonetheless. When combined with the superb visuals, though, it's effortlessly immersive. When you factor in the surround sound, you'd swear you are actually down at the track in person.
In a fashion not dissimilar from games such as Gran Turismo, you must "earn" your way into actually being able to compete and race, should you wish to participate in the "Chase" or "Season" modes. Sure, you can just strap it in and race a quick run-off race or two, but the game makes it very clear that you're not just going to be able to sit right down and know how to handle all the finesse and technique that's going to be required to not only compete in the day to day (albeit simulated) world of NASCAR, but have a chance at winning as well.