Wednesday, February 26, 2014

NASCAR ‘14 Gameplay Review

I'm playing NASCAR ‘14, a stock car racing simulation by Eutechnyx and Deep Silver.

The career mode remains the same (starting with a poor car that can be improved with good finishes for sponsors), although upgrades are now in a research and development tree that will unlock different quality levels of parts (engine, chassis, body, suspension, brakes) that you can combine for race-specific car designs. The game includes the 2014 Sprint Cup drivers and the new Chase rules format. The intriguing highlight race event scenarios now cost $5/month for new 2014 content as the season progresses; they were free updates last year. Online play now features a server browser and leagues for sixteen drivers. Races have a green flag restart zone for the leader, and you can spin the tires easily during a restart. The AI drivers are outrageously aggressive, but also drastically slow down on occasion for no apparent reason. Your computerized opponents also (still) exhibit poor pitting strategy; the shortcomings with the AI almost make the single player modes unplayable. Minor issues return from last year’s version as well: there is no direct control during yellow flags and pit stops, you will always pit in the first stall, and any amount of damage can be repaired in four seconds on pit road. You can actually wreck out of a race this time around (your engine will eventually catch on fire), but only with multiple, high speed collisions. Fans of stock car games would hope that all of the issues of last year’s version would have been ironed out in a full-priced sequel, but NASCAR ‘14 remains a decent simulation with terrible AI and other problems that discerning drivers will find fault with.