Reviewed: August 15, 2008
Released: June 10, 2008
Ladies and Gentlemen start your engines!! It is your turn to get behind the wheel and race as your favorite NASCAR driver or even race as yourself. With NASCAR 09 you will be in for a shock and love every minute behind the wheel. You can get as realistic to racing as you want to with true cockpit views and the ability to us a PlayStation racing wheel. So strap in and dodge your way around wrecks, speed past opponents, and race your way to the checkard flag.
When you start your game out you are introduced by Jeff Gordon who explains what NASCAR is all about and how to get started. You then are throwing into this giant garage that has pit crews working on their cars and you get to go in and build your own with any number, colors, and sponsors that you wish to have.
After you get your car built you can race in a quick play or start your own career. Quick play lets you pick any race track and race against the field. If you choose to start your career you will have to pick which style racing you wish to race; Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, and the Truck Series. Each series has their own race tracks and racers. After you create your car, pick your race style it is off to the races.
You can race three different ways with your controllers, two with the sixaxis and one with a racing wheel. There are pluses and minuses for each one. Letís start out with the sixaxis controller. This game is dualshock 3 compatible which is a major plus. You can pick to use just the motion sensing to steer your car. This is by far the most difficult way to drive.
The pickup on the controller has a bit of a lag and then you try and overcompensate and you are always trying to regain your control back. If you donít want to drive this way and you donít have a wheel you can use the analog sticks. This is a very easy way to start out so you can get a feel for the game. In all honest this game is way too easy using this format.
If you want to try to make this game as true to racing as can be you can get a racing wheel. I have to admit I had the most fun and got the most frustrated racing this way. Depending on what wheel you have there can be a lot of give and take from the wheel. In some of the tracks that are not just four turns or are very short the wheel really isnít the best choice. It is really hard regain your car too if you are hit from behind and then you are sent right to the end of the pack to restart your race.
After you built your car, pick your race style and racing control it is time for you to start your career. In your career you get to start your path in becoming the next Champion. During your career you will earn reputation points for qualifying for races, points for how you race, and points for your finish in each race. The bigger rep you get the more contracts you will be offered. The more contracts you are offered the more race weekend events you can participate in.
There is also a test and tune section in this game in which you can take advantage of a testing session to get a feel for your car and all the tracks. You begin in pit road and have the option to run practice laps without having to worry about other cars getting in your way. This session also allows you to get under your hood and tweak your engine.
If the computer AI isnít enough for you try out your luck online. You can play now, which will find the next available public session waiting your arrival. It is the quickest way to race. You can also pick a Session Match which lets you pick out specific game settings then search for a race session with similar setups. There is also a Leaderboard section that lets you look at who is dominating in various categories. The only downside is that there is not always a great connection and sometimes I got cut off while racing.
I have to admit, I was once again upset that Sony still puts out 720p graphics with a blu-ray player design. But on the other hand they still impressed me the attention to detail in this game. The environments look outstanding. The tracks look absolute stunning. The wrecks look ok could be better but still look good. As you continue throughout the race you get to see shadows everywhere.
On part of the tracks and they creep every time around the track and then into the stands after they cross the track. The inside of the cars were another stunning feature. When you go to cockpit mode, you really do feel like you are inside a car. You have little reflections on the glass covered indicators, every little thing you could imagine being in the car is as well. Truly beautiful.
There are only two flaws that really bugged me, the cars and the stands! The cars looked way too boxy. Now I know from behind they look like the real thing but when the cars turn you will get what I am saying. They look like they turn from a rectangle to a parallelogram. The stands bugged me a little too. The crowds looked really boxy and almost 2D. I know that no one really cares about how the crowds look in racing game but it does go a long way in helping with the feel and making you feel a part of the game.
I love going to the Brickyard every year and man the intensity of the cars blowing by you is indescribable. You just feel the vibrations every time they zip around the corners. They are loud and booming. The cars in this game donít sound like that at all. They sound like toy race cars. You do hear every time the gears switch, which is a nice touch to let you know what is going on with your car. However, if you have ever watched a race on TV you get to watch a little of the race with the cockpit cameras and I will admit that the cars sound like that, but all the time.
It is always hard to justify buying any game for $60, and this game is no different. Granted there are three different types of racing modes you can race under but it is still racing and eventually if you are not a diehard race fan you will quickly lose interest.
There are a lot of great features like building your own car with your choice of sponsors, building up your reputation points, earn contracts to participate on Race Weekend festivities, and playing online. Playing online is great but every once in a while the connection does disconnect and really gets annoying.
This is the first racing game that I have played other than Need for Speed, and I must admit I did enjoy it for the longest time but quickly became bored of the same thing over and over again.
Participating in qualification really has no advantage be if you do race in it you can have a pretty bad run and still come out in first. If you donít participate you still get to start the race first. Now it is harder to get into first in the qualification on pro but still finishing in the top three is not hard. Even finishing in the top three you can quickly pass the first two racers when the race starts and you just coast to a first place finish.
Yes there are a lot of features that really make this game fun and interesting but there are a lot of other racing games that will hold your interest longer and are more entertaining. Then the fact that you can race each race three different ways can truly make you the ultimate racer. This game can and will be a must buy later down the line. When the price drops about $15, you will not be sorry about your purchase.