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NASCAR Highlights DLC: Do You Have What It Takes?

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 scenarios.

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

Daytona 500

Stealing Jimmie's Thunder

Driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Difficulty: Medium

 

Scenario: Beat Jimmie with two to go from fourth place.

Wiping Your Nose Clean

Driver: Jeff Gordon

Difficulty: Hard

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 in first.

 

Making History

Driver: Danica Patrick

Difficulty: Hard

Scenario: Keep the lead for four laps.

 

Subway Fresh Fit 500 (Phoenix International Raceway)

Cutting Corners

Driver: Denny Hamlin

Difficulty: Medium

Scenario: Take second from Jimmie Johnson while he's battling Brad Keselowski to the finish.

 

Old Tires, New Tricks!

Driver: Mark Martin

Difficulty: Medium

Scenario: Hold onto the lead for five laps with worn tires.

 

JPM Strikes Back!

Driver: Juan Pablo Montoya

Difficulty: Hard

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

Difficulty: Medium

Scenario: Beat Kasey Kahne to the checkered flag.

 

Wild Thing!

Driver: Kyle Busch

Difficulty: Hard

Scenario: Pull down to the apron and go three wide to take the lead.

 

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

Difficulty: Very Hard

Scenario: Rewrite history and beat Kenseth to win the race.

 

Auto Club 400 (Auto Club Speedway)

Taking Advantage

Driver: Kyle Busch

Difficulty: Medium

Scenario: Capitalize on Hamline and Logano's fight to the finish to win the race.

 

Making Moves

Driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Difficulty: Hard

Scenario: Make up eight places in three laps on a restart, charging from 18th to 10th place.

 

Gaining Ground

Driver: Denny Hamlin

Difficulty: Hard

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.

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