Racing fans who also like racing video games may want to check out Activision's NASCAR 2011: The Game. I enjoy most any sports video game, and when I find a great one, I like to compare versions on different consoles. I tried NASCAR 2011: The Game first on Nintendo Wii and rated it five stars, describing it as the best race game I have played to date. I then tried it on Xbox 360, and although I still liked the game overall, I did not get the same sensation that I got from the Wii version.
NASCAR 2011: The Game is available on Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. It retails for $29.95 or higher depending on store and console. At each store at which I priced it, I found the Wii version for less than the others. Used discs may cost less.
Bother versions include the single-player and career modes. Single-player mode means exhibition races, which I like to use to get a feel for the game before competing. Single player lets me choose the driver, car, and track before beginning any race. Career mode lets me start out as a rookie and build myself up the professional circuit by competing against 42 NASCAR racers on all NASCAR tracks. In each version, Career mode ends in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. I especially like the trivia questions that keep me occupied while I wait for the scenes to load. The spotter works well on both systems to alert me of hazards and approaching opponents or when to make a pit stop.
Graphics and sounds
The graphics and sounds are great on either console. Normally, when I compare the same games on the Wii and Xbox, the Xbox graphics win easily. In NASCAR 2011, I saw the same realistic graphics on each system. They look even better on a large-screen HDTV. I also like the pre-race announcing that introduces each race, sometimes with a brief track history. Crowd noise and car sounds are incredibly authentic, especially with a high-quality stereo television.
Why I like the Wii version better
Although I like both versions well, I prefer playing on the Nintendo Wii. First, I can use the wireless controller in the steering wheel attachment. I set the wheel on a table and get a more realistic feel for driving the racecar. The "gas pedal" and "brake" buttons are perfectly placed to let me squeeze them as I grip the wheel naturally.
With the Xbox, holding down A or squeezing R2 is okay, but finding the brake on the X button with the same hand is awkward for me. In addition, I have always had trouble steering a video game's car with a joystick or buttons. I prefer the Wii's steering wheel so much more that I find myself trying to steer the Xbox controller in the same manner rather than using the joystick or arrows, but that maneuver does not work on Xbox.
After only a few races on Wii, I have an easy time pulling into pit row for service. I can decelerate, brake, and accelerate back into the race with little trouble. On the Xbox, I never can enter pit row correctly because it seems like a slower response time on the brakes. More practice should help, but even after many races, I cannot master the skill. I have to play races short enough not to need a pit stop.
Good game on either console
Overall, I like NASCAR 2011 on either the Wii or the Xbox but much more so on the Wii. I gave it five stars on Wii, and I rate it 3.5 stars on Xbox due to the tougher controls and less-realistic steering. I will look for the new versions of NASCAR as they become available, but I will most likely go for the Wii versions first.
NASCAR The Game, NASCAR The Game 2011, nascarthegame.com/2011.
Raymond grew up in the days of Atari and watched the progression of home video game consoles. He has played sports games on most consoles and personal computers as they became available. He now owns multiple game systems and enjoys most professional sports games. Follow Raymond on Twitter@RayBureau
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- Sports & Recreation
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