NASCAR the Game 2011 -- Five-Star Racing: A Sports Video Game Review

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Race fans and sports video game fans will really like NASCAR The Game 2011 from Activision. The 2011 version is the latest of this brand, and it is amazing. I tried the Nintendo Wii version, and even though I am not very good at race games, I thoroughly enjoy this one.

Availability

NASCAR The Game 2011 is available for Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. It retails for $29.95 or higher depending on store and console. Used discs cost less.

Game play

NASCAR 2011 features the sport's biggest racers including Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Kyle Bush, Jeff Gordon, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Make sure to play on a large screen HDTV if possible for maximum effect -- and turn up the volume! My 54-inch diagonal screen makes this game more authentic, especially with the driver's actual view. The game uses popular NASCAR tracks such as Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Talladega, Darlington, Daytona International Speedway, and more. I have toured the Daytona International Speedway for real, and I can say that the game's simulation looks identical to the real racetrack. With the volume up high, the sound effects of the cars and crowd are incredible, especially in stereo and surround sound.

Racers may choose to qualify for positioning or simply begin the race in 43rd place. I prefer the actual driver's view because I can get the realistic outlook and almost feel the tilt of the banking, vibrations of scraping up against the wall or other cars, or shock of crashing. Using the Wii remote inside the steering wheel accessory makes me feel more like I am really driving the car.

Pit stops

Close-ups of the pit crew working to add fuel and change the tires look just like watching the race on television. Simulations come from actual footage of professional pit crews. Long races require pit stops, but shorter ones do not.

Trivia and commentary

Rather than just giving a "Loading" message, NASCAR 2011 displays trivia questions while each new scene loads. Questions cover topics about the car models, engines, racers, and car numbers.

Announcers Mark Garrow and Doug Rice begin each race with a brief commentary and history of the track and/or recent winners at that track. Racers may listen or skip at their discretion.

Spotter assistance

The spotter offers frequent assistance. He lets me know when to speed up, slow down, and make a pit stop. He also tells me when another racer is coming up from behind and when to ride the draft of the racer directly in front. I get so much into the race that I have often tried to answer him back. "Slow down" warnings also appear on the screen when I try to take a turn too fast and too close to the wall.

Single race and career mode

In single race mode, racers can select any car available and earn points to unlock more. They can choose any of the 36 NASCAR tracks.

Career mode lets racers begin as rookies and race through all 36 tracks each season, earning points for each race's placing. Points accumulate toward the season's overall point total championship.

Online racing

Racers can challenge up to 15 other racers from anywhere through Wi-Fi connection. They can use their homemade characters or race as their favorite NASCAR drivers.

Practice mode and crashing fun

Practice mode lets racers get used to a track before the race to compete better during the race. Just for fun, my son loves to enter practice mode, drive the wrong way, and crash into the oncoming traffic at high speeds. Actual driver's view with a large screen makes it easy to feel more like we are really hitting the other cars hard and flipping over. The spotter does not like that; he gives harsh criticism, but it makes the simulation more fun.

Fast-paced five-star fun

NASCAR The Game 2011 is a terrific race game. It simulates the racing experience the best that I have seen in a video game. I am picky about my sports video games. I like them realistic, exciting, and fun. Considering those stipulations, I give NASCAR The Game 2011 five stars. The only problem I have is settling back down to earth before getting into my car and driving for real.

Sources:

Activision Games, NASCAR 2011 The Game, activision.com.

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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