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A.P.I Review: NASCAR 99
Developer: EA Sports OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: EA 1-2 Player
Game Type: Oval Racing Memory Card
Review Date: December 1998 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

The original Nascar racing game was bloody awful! 500 laps of an oval circuit was monotonous enough without the cars handling like a tank in the Sahara.

Nascar '98 fared a little better with an improved game engine, tighter handling and intelligent CPU opponents.

So what good tidings does the '99 version bring forth... baring in mind that over the last 12 months we have witnessed the stunning Gran Turismo? There's up-to-date drivers, more realistic sound effects, seven brand new tracks and 32 high-res cars. Oh yes,... and lots and lots of ovals.


Nascar 99 is the ultimate blend of NASCAR life-style and EA Sports authenticity. It features 18 licensed tracks and over 30 cars and drivers, including legends like Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough. Night races, an accurate points system, and expanded pit strategy create a realistic Nascar experience.


The graphics bring a mixture of both good and bad sides of programming. The track surface looks smooth and solid... in fact almost perfect for racing. The grass verges have a rich, lush appearance that bare deep skid tracks when the occasion warrants... very realistic. The grandstands are packed to the hilt, advertising hoarding line the wall, perimeter mesh fencing slightly leans over the circuit while there is virtually no visible sign of any pop-up on the horizon. So far, so good.

While the cars are rich in color and high on detail, they still have a somewhat grainy appearance. The shadows of these vehicles are somewhat distracting, especially at night races when they are so dense that it sometimes looks as if the cars are travelling on a jerky magic carpet. Perhaps this is nit picking, but what does spoil the game is lack of any sensation of speed. 10 mph, or 200... it doesn't really matter because it all feels the same.

Options are available to activate several on-screen icons that display, race times, track map and a helpful racing line on the road surface. There are six viewing angles which range from up and behind the car, to a realistic in-car view where you can keep an eye on all of those clocks, dials, switches and gauges. There's a nice touch as your drivers hands leave the steering wheel to change gear as you accelerate. Sadly there is no rear view mirror, or even a reverse view, which makes leading the pack a nerve racking pastime.

Sounds and Effects

A major improvement with this years Nascar game is the full-blown audio engine that combines a two-man announcer booth, car sound effects, spotter and crew chief audio. Apparently EA Sports went directly to the track during a testing session at Daytona for engine and ambient sound effects captured from both inside the car and from outside the car.

Benny Parsons joins ESPN's Bob Jenkins to deliver race analysis and commentary which at times is informative... and occasionally slightly boring.


What Nascar 99 lacks in varying circuits it certainly makes up for in options. One menu seems to lead into another allowing you to tamper with almost every available setting. Select a car and driver from a list of thirty real name competitors from the recent Nascar season. Circuits range from the 160 lap oval at Indianapolis, to the 267 lap oval at Las Vegas, to the 500 lap oval at Bristol... Of course for a slight variation there is the winding circuit at Sears Point and the hair-pin bend at Watkins Glenn but in reality they are both slightly misshapen ovals.

Obviously you don't have to endure a full racing season in championship mode as each race may be attempted individually. Race lengths may vary from 3% to full distance with damage switched on, off or limited... enough to slow you down, but not stop the race. Even the AI settings may be adjusted along with car handling, drifting and horsepower, while both simulation and arcade mode are selectable. Before moving off into race mode your choice of driver may be decided by browsing through the circuit by circuit records of past achievements.

Arriving at the track you will find the race mode is broken down into practice, qualify and race event. Practice is so important, probably more so than any other racing game. "How can this be when most of the tracks are ovals?" I hear you say. Well, it's all down to car set-up! Attempt the most basic circuit with the incorrect set-up and you will struggle to finish in the top ten. I gathered together some facts and figures from EA Sports web site and messed around with the wheel lock, rear spoiler, shocks, tyre pressure, weight jacking, wedge, bias and transmission until the handling felt correct. The difference in control was remarkable.

Of course once the car set-up was perfect it soon became boring doing lap after lap of left hand turns... but then that's Nascar!

Value for Money

I suppose it all depends on whether or not you are a NASCAR racing nut. If you are, then there is no doubt that this '99 version offers excellent value for money. If not, then don't worry as there are dozens of other good racing games available on PSX.

GRAPHICS: 16/20 It is my opinion that Nascar is a thrilling racing spectacle in which I appreciate each and every drivers skillful control of high powered vehicles at breakneck speeds requiring sharp reactions and nerves of steel. I admire the endless hours that are taken by engineers to ensure that the vehicles peak at just the right time. How tyre manufacturers invest millions on discovering the perfect grip for each individual track.

However, as a racing 'game'... well... to be truthful 500 laps of an oval circuit sucks.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 14/20


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