The lights are on
The NASCAR season is underway, and we've already had a
clutch of memorable moments. Now you can relive some of them thanks to NASCAR
the Game: Inside Line's first mid-season DLC pack. We try them out and see what
it's like to try and replicate reality.
Naturally, the challenges based on real-life events task you
with either rewriting history or repeating it, but what I found interesting was
the selection of scenarios chosen. These ranged from the no-brainers, like
Hamlin and Logano's confrontational last lap at California, to smaller but
still intersting moments like a particularly daring three-wide pass by Kyle
Busch at Las Vegas.
These scenarios are based on the real-life telemetry data from
the cars. Thus, the drivers' location on the track in relation to each other, their
speeds, and throttle and brake inputs are as they happened on the day. This
makes things difficult in both a good and a bad sense. It's good because you
can see what lines the drivers took through a corner, and get the feeling that
you're actually battling with these drivers. You can also see events – like Logano and Hamlin going at it – that appear just as they happened
in real life. The one thing missing which I would have loved is some wreck-avoidance
Then again, there are times when it feels like because the
cars are following the telemetry data, the AI is oblivious of you and not
reacting realistically. One particular example of this is the Cutting Corners
scenario at Phoenix. You restart in the middle of the dogleg along the back
straightaway. You have to immediately block Junior and square up for a bump,
otherwise he'll spin you out in the AI's reckless attempt to stay on its
pre-ordained path. This isn't a constant occurrence - there are times when
cars will move naturally on the track – but you will notice it.
All in all, as a NASCAR fan, I enjoyed the DLC's use of the
cars' telemetry data. I thought the scenarios were interesting enough and the
challenges they offered invigorating.
Highlights DLC #1
Stealing Jimmie's Thunder
Driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Scenario: Beat Jimmie with two to go from fourth place.
Wiping Your Nose Clean
Driver: Jeff Gordon
Scenario: You have less than two laps to get a hot dog
wrapper off of Jeff's grill by drafting for seven seconds. Then go on to finish
Driver: Danica Patrick
Scenario: Keep the lead for four laps.
Subway Fresh Fit 500 (Phoenix International Raceway)
Driver: Denny Hamlin
Scenario: Take second from Jimmie Johnson while he's
battling Brad Keselowski to the finish.
Old Tires, New Tricks!
Driver: Mark Martin
Scenario: Hold onto the lead for five laps with worn tires.
JPM Strikes Back!
Driver: Juan Pablo Montoya
Scenario: Take back the lead from Greg Biffle on a restart
within four laps.
The Kobalt Tools 400 (Las Vegas Motor Speedway)
The Icing on the Cake
Driver: Matt Kenseth
Scenario: Beat Kasey Kahne to the checkered flag.
Driver: Kyle Busch
Scenario: Pull down to the apron and go three wide to take
Pushing for Points
Driver: Brad Keselowski
Difficulty: Very Hard
Scenario: Beat Kyle Busch for third place in the race.
Beating the Birthday Boy
Driver: Kasey Kahne
Scenario: Rewrite history and beat Kenseth to win the race.
Auto Club 400 (Auto Club Speedway)
Scenario: Capitalize on Hamline and Logano's fight to the
finish to win the race.
Scenario: Make up eight places in three laps on a restart,
charging from 18th to 10th place.
Scenario: Work your way through the field to at least second
place after the final caution.
This first batch of NASCAR the Game: Inside Line's 2013
Highlights DLC is available for 20 in-game tickets or free as part of the title's season
pass ($24.99/2000 Microsoft Points) that encompasses all the downloads through the end of the racing season in Miami Homestead. Tickets can be purchased outright (10
tickets costs $.99/80 Microsoft Points) in the game's store.
Developer Eutechnyx says it expects to release weekly
downloadable challenges throughout the season pertaining to most of the tracks
on the circuit (excluding Bristol, Kansas, and Dover for licensing reasons).
This first offering got hung up before it could be released, so hopefully the
company can make good on this promise in the future.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.