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OK, everybody, I am not a really big fan of NASCAR. But I must admit that last years edition of Electronic Arts NASCAR series was very good. And while at E3 I had a chance to see NASCAR 2005: Race for the Cup. I was extremely impressed with what I saw. So EA Sports has finally unleashed this game to retail stores everywhere. And I had a chance to give this new racing game a go. So how does this years NASCAR game compare to the NASCAR games of the past. Let me tell you about it.
The simple answer to my strapline is yes. Before I get into why, I feel compelled to preface this review with a bit of honesty. My experience with NASCAR gaming prior to this assignment largely started and stopped on the PC where I was privy to some unfathomably bad efforts and some astonishingly good ones (sweet Papyrus and your Heat, how I will forever remember thee fondly). This is important to note because I've had to reacquaint myself with what is essentially a different franchise (even had to go back and play previous NASCAR titles on consoles). Like EA's Tiger Woods of earlier years, NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup is significantly different from the PC simulation games which may misleadingly feature similar titles.
Gaming and NASCAR have definitely had a love/hate relationship, one that's often ebbed and flowed with the times. On one hand, fans have seen the evolution of the sport on both PCs and consoles. The inclusion of new racing series and racetracks, for instance, has expanded the scope of the NASCAR game significantly. Unfortunately, many other gamers have dismissed the action of these titles as simplistic, boring or lacking in depth.
NASCAR 2005 is packed to the gills with drivers, tracks, and play modes. It's a NASCAR fan's dream come true. EA Sports' decision to coin the subtitle of its latest NASCAR game, NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup, after the new Nextel Cup championship eligibility rules, makes sense from a branding standpoint. NASCAR is calling the last 10 races of the season the "Chase for the Cup," so a video game with that same slogan is sure to catch the attention of NASCAR fans. But, the problem with that subtitle is that it's too much of an understatement; it doesn't even come close to tipping off potential buyers to all of the wonderful improvements and additions that EA Sports has made to this year's game.
The opening is small, but enough to squeeze through. Ok, so you cut off that other driver, it’s part of the game, and besides, your goal is simple enough – finish ahead of everyone else.
NASCAR gear heads rejoice: the best NASCAR racing simulation yet is here. EA Sports’ latest racing contender, NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup is bar-none, the top NASCAR racer to hit the shelves thus far. And it’s got a few factors going against it, too: jaggies and other graphical problems are abound en masse, and the absence of the amazing TV-style sound presentation made available in the rest of the EA Sports lineup – yet this game still delivers above and beyond both its predecessors and any past competition. If you’re looking for an alternative to the avalanche of Gran Turismo-style racers out there, NASCAR 2005 is going to be your best bet.
Not too long ago, admitting you were a fan of NASCAR racing was like wearing a sign around your neck saying, "Hi. I'm a redneck!" Recently, though, NASCAR has gained more mainstream acceptance, as well as a more diverse fan base. With NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup, EA Sports decided that the franchise was well past due for an overhaul. The result is a game that will not only appeal to existing NASCAR fans, but could even create a few new fans for the sport.