Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: NASCAR '15

NASCAR '15, the newest NASCAR video game, was released on Friday exclusively at Gamestop. 

The game, released by developer Dusenberry Martin Racing, is a standalone update to NASCAR '14, which was released last year by Eutechnyx.  Because the game was developed by two separate publishers, NASCAR '15 is an update to that game rather than a completely new experience.  That will come with next year's NASCAR '16, which is being built from the ground up for PS4 and Xbox One.

I picked up my copy today and played through all of the modes.  So, does NASCAR '15 head to victory lane, or does it run in the back of the pack, mired by the shortfalls of its predecessor?  Let's find out.

Single Player
First up, the single player modes are exactly the same as last year's game.  You pick your driver, your track and the difficulty settings before hitting the track.  This mode is pretty straightforward, and it is done fairly well.  I didn't have any problems during a 40-lap event at Charlotte on 70% difficulty.  I started from the back of the pack and quickly worked my way to the lead.

The campaign mode is also the same as last year.  I raced through the beginning test session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and then headed to Daytona for the Daytona 500.

As I raced on the low line around the track, it seemed as though my car was sucked down to the yellow line, and I couldn't seem to stop myself from bouncing off the apron, which is always a disaster at Daytona.  After wrecking in my Duel, I started the Daytona 500 10th, and ran in the lead for most of the race as I held off challenges from Joey Logano and Jeff Gordon.

One thing I would have liked to see was the ability to create a career paint scheme in career mode.  It is a little frustrating to have to go back to the paint booth to add a new sponsor logo.

Ever since NASCAR: The Game 2011, multiplayer has never been a strong suit for the games.  Online multiplayer has always been unreliable at best.  I was hoping for something different this year, but I was disappointed.  In fact, I couldn't actually get to an online race at all.  It just kept coming up with the message "a suitable game could not be found."  Ok.

This was how the race ended. Yep, me and the cover athlete.
The local multiplayer has always been a favorite mode for me, as I'll play it with my friends and cause the biggest wrecks we could.  Unfortunately, NASCAR '14 would freeze in this mode when a big enough wreck was caused.  Fortunately, NASCAR '15 doesn't freeze when you create a huge wreck. It's actually worse.

When the race started, I turned around and waited for the field to come out of Turn 4.  I hit them dead-on, causing a major pileup with cars flying through the air.  The red flag came out for Brian Vickers stuck on his roof, but the game kept going. 

When the race was set to go back green, I somehow gained control of my car going through Turn 3, and then the race went back to the red flag because Vickers was still stuck on his roof.  I was also the leader for some reason, even though I should have been scored 42nd, 1 lap down. That's some lucky dog.

When the race went back green again, I turned around to cause a wreck again.  It was lap 6 of 16, which will be important in a minute.  After I caused the wreck again, Paul Menard crossed the start/finish line and it listed him as the winner. On lap 6. What?

I caused a wreck on the next restart, and again, it listed Kasey Kahne as the winner. On lap 8.

Finally the race restarted again, and for some reason there were only two cars on the track: myself and Jeff Gordon.  I got into Gordon going around the corner, which sent him into the wall, and I won the race on lap 10.  For real this time.

Overall, the multiplayer experience wasn't as broken as last year's, but it's still pretty broken.

NASCAR '15 isn't a bad game, but it is very clear that it is *just* an update.  In fact, every driver only has one paint scheme in the game, which I expect will get rectified with some DLC down the road.  The game fixes some of the things NASCAR '14 did wrong, but it also creates some fun new problems.  But for only $19.99, it could be worse.  If you're looking for an updated game with your favorite driver's scheme from this season, head to Gamestop to pick it up.  I'll keep playing it, hoping they can get it right next year.


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