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PlayStation 3 Review: NASCAR 2011 – The Game

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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.

As far as the career driving aspect of the game goes, it reminded me heavily of MotoGP 09/10 — which was another title that bored me to tears since I seem to lack that hand-eye coordination that is evidently vital in order to accomplish anything even remotely entertaining in racing games.

That, or it’s the fact that I tend to get bored easily (or, as my therapist says: “Stop playing with that, you fucking sociopath!”). My odious appeal to the subject of NASCAR cannot trample too terribly much on the game’s graphics and sound, however: many of the visual aspects are quite nice here (from the vehicles to the details in the road — which is about all there really is to see when it comes to racing, really) and the sound effects definitely deliver (when you can hear them over that voice in your head, that is).

On the whole, NASCAR 2011: The Game is not my kind of game. It’s simply too routine and boring for someone who doesn’t like racing to begin with. That said, this game will probably appeal to about 75% or those of you who actually do crave this sort of thing.

Unless you’d rather sit behind that obnoxious white trash woman wearing a Dixie Flag tank top and cut-offs, that is — in which case, be my guest.

NASCAR 2011: The Game is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Language. This game can also be found on: Wii and Xbox 360.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.