Wednesday, November 30, 2011


When NASCAR: Unleashed was first announced by Activision, I was a little excited, but also a little skeptical; the game was aimed at younger kids, and I was afraid that I would not have any fun.  After playing for only 20 minutes, I knew that I was completely wrong.  The game was released on November 1, 2011, but I am reviewing it so late because I wanted to complete the game and review every aspect of the game.  Today, I was able to get the PS3 Platinum Trophy for getting 100% game completion, so I feel like I can now fairly review the game.

Mark Martin races Kevin Harvick in NASCAR: Unleashed (Photo Courtesy Activision)
 When I got the game, I jumped right into the story mode, which is called the "Championship" mode.  I tried to go out and win every race, but after winning the first eight or nine races, I ran into some trouble.  The game is split up into three different tiers, with each tier becoming harder than the next.  Each race has a specific goal that has to be reached, like getting a Top 10 or Top 5 finish.  In fact, the only race that needs to be won is the final race, when you complete the entire Championship mode.

The quick race mode is also very enjoyable.  Racers have ability to jump right into a race "season" of 1-12 races, with 1-5 laps in each race.  The level of the other drivers can be set between easy, medium, or hard.  The tracks where you race can also be chosen, and you have the ability to make a custom schedule.  

Kyle Busch at Daytona, ferris wheel and all (Photo courtesy Activision)
Wondering if your favorite driver is in the game?  Well, there are only 15 real-life drivers in the game, along with three fantasy drivers.  Each driver has multiple paint schemes; these can be unlocked by earning experience points throughout your racing career.  The drivers available in the game are: Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, and Tony Stewart.

There are also six NASCAR-sanctioned tracks in the game; Chicagoland Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, and Talladega Superspeedway.  There is also the Unleashed Speedway, which is a circuit created for the game.  Each track offers at least two different courses, and some, like Martinsville, offer three.  The only track that is a true oval is one of the Daytona layouts.  This is the first track you race on in the game, and it is very easy to maneuver.  

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Photo courtesy Activision)
 If you are a perfectionist (like myself), get ready for a long haul.  You have to get a gold trophy on every single track layout in the game's time trial mode.  This is somewhat tedious, and you won't get some of the tracks on the first run-through.  Eventually, though, even this doesn't prove too difficult, and the trophy/achievement should be yours.

One problem with this game is the lack of a multiplayer mode.  There is no online multiplayer to be found, and the only local multiplayer is between two people.  That's nothing new for a NASCAR game, but the game Split/Second has four-player local multiplayer.  Another problem with this game is that it gets hard so fast.  The game starts out easy enough, but it gets cripplingly hard very fast.  The difficulty level was very frustrating for me, so I'm not sure how younger kids will be able to handle it.

Joey Logano races beside Jimmie Johnson (Photo courtesy Activision)
 Overall, I was very happy with this game.  Though the difficulty was a little surprising at times, I never once thought the game was impossible.  Even my sister, who is terrible at racing games, thought the game was fun and wanted to play it over and over again.  I'd recommend this game to any of my friends, and a lot of them aren't racing fans.  If you're looking for something to get your kids for Christmas, this is a good choice.  NASCAR: Unleashed is available on the PlayStation 3, XBox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo 3DS Systems.

 RATING: 8.5/10

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