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|Setting the Scene:
Well someone over at EA Sports must have had a vision or something…I can just picture a few developers sitting around a table trying to figure out what type of racer to put out next. All of a sudden a light bulb must have flicked on in someone's mind…hey, why not take the EA NASCAR license and apply it to an all out "balls to the wall" free for all driving game? We can use all of the real drivers, their real cars and stick them in a fantasy-driving world where almost anything goes.
Sounds good right?
You betcha…it's real good..
Sound and Vision:
I have always been impressed with the sound effects and musical scores that EA Sports applies to their titles and NASCAR Rumble is no exception. Each circuit of tracks that you race on has its own theme and corresponding music to accompany it. Driving through the Louisiana Bayou? Well there is some nice southern Cajun tunes to cruise to. Rumbling through the old west, got your "giddy up" music right here fellow. From Rock & Roll to Blue Grass, everything fits right in with the types of circuits you are participating in.
The sound effects are also awesome with that sweet "throaty" sound that the car motors make and the distinct crunching of metal against metal. Even the little details are not missed…There is one track that is partially bordered with chain link fencing, if you scrape the fence you can here that familiar sound that chain link makes when whacked. Another really sweet addition is the inclusion of Dolby Surround. Pump this game through a Surround receiver and four or five speakers and you get immersed in the action. You can actually hear the cars coming up from behind you in the rear speakers and moving towards the front as a car passes you by. Same goes for when you smack into a car a send it spiraling off into the wall…as you pass it you can hear the sound shift from the front to rear and listening to the car grinding into a wall behind you. It's all very outrageous and enjoyable. Bravo to EA Sports for going the extra step to encode this feature into the game.
The graphics in NASCAR Rumble sit mostly on the plus side of things. The car models are some of the best yet seen on the Playstation, ranking right up there with Gran Tourismo and Ridge Racer. You get the nice shiny "just waxed" look on the metal with some nice reflection mapping off of the rear windshield. Of course the reflections are not real time, but the illusion works nicely.
The game also has no pop up whatsoever. Seems that designers have finally figured out how to throw a pre-drawn background into place and enable it to scroll around realistically. Since the background is more or less "fixed", the developers are free to just create the immediate foreground and leave the distance alone. The trickery works just fine and enables the scenery to shift and flow seamlessly.
I was also impressed with the blazing speed and overall frame rate that NASCAR Rumble manages to maintain. At no time did the gameplay lag of slow down, everything just continued to flow at a break neck pace regardless of the on screen activities. This is mighty impressive stuff folks. Even in the two-player mode there was very little loss of detail and again, no slowdown.
About the only few minuses that I could give this game in the graphics department is the fact that the backgrounds are rather grainy and the cars show no visible damage. While the backgrounds are certainly nicely detailed and varied, you can just tell that all of the polys went into the cars and the backgrounds had to suffer a bit as a result. Like I said, the environments do look pretty nice and work just fine for this type of game, they just appear to be rather flat. As for the car damage, about the only thing that I can figure out is that EA couldn't get permission to wreck up the NASCAR cars. This is a shame because the cars really take a horrible beating throughout the game and it would have been nice to see the resulting damage as a result of the constant pummeling.
Overall though I consider this game a real graphical achievement on the PSX, to be able to display this overall quality and still keep up the frame rate and eliminate the pop-up…bravo.
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