|Let me start by saying this. I love racing
games and have always loved watching any type of racing on television (it must be the
spectacular crashes). And I would have to say that my favorite form of racing has to be
the Nascar series. I cant seem to get enough of the sensation of speed that this
type of racing gives. Im a typical Nascar junkie--if I cant get my weekly fix
of entertainment, I shrivel up and die; in fact, I am deeply saddened that the 1998 season
has ended. But now I can get my fix anytime I turn on my computer. Though its been a
while since the last incarnation of my beloved Nascar Racing series has seen light of day,
with the release of Nascar Racing 1999 Edition (NR99), the legacy continues. I now can
replay last years season on my computer, with only one major difference from the
real thing--I'm the newest rookie driver in the Nascar Series.
NR99 feels and looks a lot like Nascar 2 (N2). It basically uses a reworked version of N2 engine with a few major differences. It now is native to Windows 95 (a lot of people remember how fun it was to get N2 working under DOS) which makes it a lot easier to install and run. It also has improved 3D support, including 3Dfx, so owners rejoice. It also includes the Nascar Grand Nationals and Craftsman Truck series (which features a new truck physics model). The list of playable tracks has also increased from the previous version. NR99 now has a total of 35 tracks (11 new ones) with additions like Homestead and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Some of the original tracks have been updated to reflect the new designs and layouts that took effect in 1998.
The graphics of NR99 resemble N2, though the addition of 3Dfx support has given the overall look a more polished feel. The cars, stands and infield have a crisper, more vibrant look. There are also more objects and vehicles in the infield of each track which give it that "busy" race day feel. The cars themselves have been updated with the current years sponsors. Everything looks very good about the cars, except the fact that one general body shape is used to portray each car manufacturer. That means that Dale Earnhardts Chevy Monte Carlo has the same shape as Mark Martins Ford Taurus. By contrast, this years Nascar 99 on the Playstation displays the differences in each makes body style (Ford, Chevrolet, and Pontiac). This might seem a small complaint, but I feel that it detracts from the authenticity that this game is trying to inovoke. I hope with Nascar 3 showing up later this year, this problem will be addressed and remedied. The games overall graphics move smoothly and swiftly on most Pentium-based computers (Pentium 60 or better), and on slower machines the graphic detail can be turned down to help keep smooth frame rates.
The sound is another area of the game that seems a lot like N2. The wall-banging and bumper-crunching have an authentic edge, but dont vary enough and get stale quickly. The squeal of the tires is nothing special and gets a little annoying after a few laps. Engine noises are done in standard fashion, with nothing that makes them stand out from other racing games. But when an accident occurs, the sound effects change for the better. The moan coming from the tires and sounds of vehicles smashing into each other makes you appreciate what real-life drivers go through in a major accident. The sounds of the pit crew pounding on the body to help repair damaged panels is very good. It really sounds like they are fixing the mangled body work that they used to call a vehicle. Another nice sound feature is the spotter, who has a lot of helpful information to give the driver during a race. Overall, the sound has its highs and lows, but works decently with this game.
NR99 is very user friendly. Options abound and allow players to customize the game the way they want. It allows players of different skill levels to play and not get frustrated. If the computer drivers are too good, drop their strength percentage. If having realistic car damage turned on causes a race to end prematurely (because of an accident), set it to arcade or just simply turn it off. Its all up to the player. Control over the vehicle is also very good. The steering and vehicle response feels just like N2. Of course, the game plays best when used with a steering wheel or game pad, but that isnt necessary (it is smart though). NR99 also comes with the same camera views (in-car, behind car and far behind car) that the previous Nascar games had. I prefer the in-car view because of the detail level of the cockpit and the working gauges. Its also the view that gives the most authentic feel.
NR99 does the racing world good. If you are a fan of the Nascar Series, or just want to drive a Nastruck in a single race, the choice is in the game. Whether you want to participate in a full season or just a single race, its up to you. Papyrus didnt skimp on the options and has made another good racing simulation for the computer. Though NR99 feels a lot like N2, it still has enough new features to make it a worthy purchase for any racing fan.