NASCAR the Game: Inside Line developer Eutechnyx is also making the first licensed NASCAR iOS title - NASCAR: Redline. However, the game isn't your typical racing game on the platform.
Rather than create an iOS version of Inside Line, however, Eutechnyx has decided to go in a slightly different direction. Redline is more like being a crew chief than it is a driver. Although you play through certain moments on the track such as avoiding wrecks and making crucial passes, it mainly focuses on the strategy behind winning races from the shop all the way to the track.
You start your career as part of nascent organization, so you have to race your way up the ladder before you start leveling up, get better sponsors, and can fully upgrade your car. Car upgrades encompass the usual categories of your engine, transmission, aero, brakes, and suspension. Within these are other sub-categories as well. The interesting part of the upgrade system is that your car only has so much capacity for them, so you have to configure your car with upgrades depending on what kind of track you race on.
After you buy an upgrade, the amount of real-life time it takes to install the part varies, and the game allows you to speed up the process with E-Bucks. These can be earned or bought with real-life money. E-Bucks can also be used to restock your limited initial supply of rewinds, which naturally let you re-do events.
During the race you can manage how aggressive or conservative you want to be on your fuel, driving, and tires. How you choose to approach these influences your need to pit, which you can do at any time. Of course, your pit strategy (including choosing how many tires you want and how much fuel) is key to giving you a chance at winning, so you have to be smart about every decision.
Playing the game, I started to understand how nerve wracking it is to be a crew chief; sitting on top of the battle wagon largely helpless to win the race by yourself - save for those handful of crucial decisions that most of the time need to be made entirely on the fly. Decisions in the game are all on a timer, but Redline's HUD is good enough that it doesn't get in the way.
While strategy is largely the focus, it presents moments in the race where you have to direct the ontrack action. These consist of managing your gas and brake to hit designated onscreen MPH markers related to the event (see below), whether that's qualifying, starting the race, or missing a wreck. Unfortunately, managing your gas/brake is the only hands-on gameplay in the title, and Redline doesn't present any gameplay around crucial situations like pit stops, hitting pit row speed, or restarts.
Redline's gameplay might be limited, but it also presents another side of racing that is both welcome and in tune with NASCAR itself. It's just a different kind of adrenaline.
NASCAR: Redline comes out for iOS on October 3 for $4.99. An Android version is expected in November.