Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review: NASCAR '14

I picked up NASCAR '14 when it came out a few weeks ago.  Like a kid on Christmas morning, I drove to GameStop to pick up my pre-ordered copy.  I couldn't wait to pop in the game and race with all the new updated paint schemes.  I was also excited to see all the improvements in this game since the last one was so buggy.  Unfortunately, it seems the developer did not go far enough with their improvements.

Using your custom cars is a bright spot of this new game.
Eutechnyx has developed the past three NASCAR games.  And each time, they've come closer to getting it right, but they're just a bit off.  The new game has a few new updates, including an updated AI difficulty system.  Instead of picking easy, medium, hard or very hard as the levels, you can now choose anywhere from 0-100% difficulty.  Good idea right?  It seems, however, that the difficulty skews just a bit to the hard side.  You can easily win races on 30% difficulty, but when you push it up to 40% the field blows by you.  I believe they are working on including a fix for this in the patch that should be out within the next few weeks.

The AI is also not very realistic.  When you try to wreck a car, it will do everything it can to stay straight, and normally it does.  This is great if you don't want cautions, but when you try to cause a lot of 43-car pileups, it can get frustrating.  Let's be serious, if I hit Danica going 200 mph in Turn 3 of Daytona, there's no way she keeps that car straight.  Just saying.  I believe a fix for this will also be included in the patch.

Another problem they run into deals with the challenges.  They unveiled the new challenges in the last iteration of the game, using NASCAR's loop data to accurately portray where the cars are on the track.  Unfortunately, the cars would ONLY run where they were running in real life, paying no attention to the player.

I thought they would fix that in this game, but of course I got my hopes up for nothing.  The challenges are plagued by the same problems as the last game, but to an even greater extent.  Not only will the cars drive into you if you're using their line, they will not try to avoid you AT ALL.  I have spun in front of the field, and seen cars flip over my car and fly right back to where they should be running with all four tires on the ground.  Very lifelike.

In the past games, I've wished for the ability to spin the tires.  Well, they sure delivered.  As in, every time you restart you'll spin the tires.  The game starts out with you sliding towards the car next to you without giving you any guidance about how to stop it.  Eventually I figured out how to time the restarts and use the restart lines, but a little heads-up would have been nice.

I have tried to play some online as well, but have been unable to find a stable room.  Though that may be due to a poor internet connection at school, so I won't hold that against them.

I have also broken the game on numerous occasions.  I was at a race at Daytona, and decided to turn backwards at the start of the race and wreck the field.  I didn't cross the start finish line to start the race, and the field crossed into lap 2.  But the game decided that was the final lap, and Denny Hamlin was the winner.  I then drove around the track to complete my lap, and the field started slowing down as if the race was over.  After the race restarted from the checkered flag/caution, I was the only car on the track.  Weird.

The game isn't all bad though.  A highlight of the game is the ability to use your custom cars in career mode.  This is a nice touch that had been missing from the previous games.  I enjoyed winning the championship with my custom Deadpool/Marvel Comics car.

Overall, this game hasn't really changed a lot from its predecessors.  It seems more like a facelift with the new paint schemes rather than a brand new game.  I would have rather paid $20 for DLC than $50 for a new game that is still plagued by recurring problems.

Final Score:

Have you been playing NASCAR '14?  Have you been enjoying it?  Run into any problems?  Let us know in the comments below.

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