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Although NASCAR 07 remains pretty much the same decent core game as last year's model, this year's model is just a little more fun for newcomers and a little more chaotic for long-time racers.
All told, NASCAR 07 is a faithful addition to any NASCAR fan's videogame library. Once you get over the initially steep learning curve in handling the cars, you'll find yourself left with a surprisingly deep and entertaining racing experience. While the level of play may not be suited to the average racing game fan, hardcore NASCAR fans will be eager to experience their own Talladega Nights.
NASCAR 07 really does compile the best gameplay elements from the previous four years’ worth of their NASCAR franchise. While this would normally warrant a hands-down recommendation – especially releasing this close to the (apparent) end of the PS2’s lifespan – NASCAR 07’s technical glitches really deal a serious blow to the fun. I’ve grown to like EA again. As of late, they have been doing good for many games. And really, EA’s NASCAR series has been consistently solid for quite some time. Yet somehow, somewhere, NASCAR 07 slipped off course and is nowhere near the quality it should be. Of course, to the diehard NASCAR gamers out there, NASCAR 07 could be a text-based strategy game, and they would still race to the stores to get their hands on a copy. And they will love every moment of it. As for the rest of us, we are better of letting those gamers pass us by while we head to the rental shop.
Whether or not EA Tiburon simply mailed it in this year is open to debate, but regardless of how or why it happened, the game is disappointing. NASCAR 07 is by no means a bad game, but the lack of compelling new features makes it tough to recommend if you already own NASCAR 06.
Ultimately, NASCAR 07, like many titles that EA Sports has released recently (I'm looking at you, Madden 06 GBA), is a rehashed, lackluster game hidden behind the high-energy, let's-kick-some-butt-and-chug-some-beer rock music blaring at you from the title screen. There's a lot of little nitty-gritty in here to get into, with very little explanation to it; the game seems like it was designed for the diehard fans of the sport, but at the same time, the outdated roster and lack of some of the most influential rookies of the season that NASCAR 07 is based on feels like a kick in the face for those same fans. This is a decent enough NASCAR game if you're desperately craving one; past that, though, it's best left to sit on the title screen all day at your local game shop. If you really want this game that badly, buy NASCAR 06: Total Team Control; it's essentially the same game, but $20 cheaper.
NASCAR 07 is, quite simply, another NASCAR game. There isn't anything too special about it or anything that makes it stand out, but then again, there also isn't anything to really get in a twist over. Nothing mentioned in this review stops it from being enjoyable, especially for the fans, but at the same time, we wish there were a few more positives to crow about. The graphics are dated, the deepest aspects of the game aren't fleshed out enough, and in the end, EA was apparently content with re-releasing NASCAR 06 with a thin coat of gloss. A very, very thin coat of gloss. It's a good thing they had a successful formula to start with, allowing us to give it a pretty decent score. But that ain't enough for a full-price purchase, now is it?
The game has other little charms and detractors. Taking a victory lap if you come in first place is fun. But, those looking to perform a miniature ‘Paris Air Show Disaster’ are out of luck: there’s no crashing into the stands. And like Duval said in “Days of Thunder” – “rubbing is racing!” and rubbing rivals and drafting with buddies is pretty fun.
So let's go back to that original dichotomy question: Is NASCAR 07 a game, or a simulation? Well, yet again it's neither, and EA Tiburon has failed for the second year running to strike the glorious balance that it achieved with NASCAR 05. It's certainly not "bad," but it's hardly the definitive game of the genre.