Nascar 2005Johnny Liu
ASCAR fans, start your engines. EA is revving up for another high-octane race to the finish. EA Tiburon, the Florida-based studio responsible for EA’s Madden NFL franchise, is developing NASCAR 2005 completely in-house, which is a first for the series. Tiburon’s intention is to create a deep, realistic racing simulator—something that traditionally hasn’t had much competition in the PC market. Now that EA holds the exclusive NASCAR gaming license, it’s got a straight shot at the checkered flag with what promises to be the most accurate and up-to-date NASCAR simulation to date.
Start Your Engines
NASCAR 2005 one-ups its predecessors with completely overhauled textures, better-looking environments, and even more realistic vehicular modeling. Tiburon has done its homework when it comes to the racetracks, with the in-game tracks echoing recent real-world course revisions.
As an example of said course revision, let’s look at the Homestead Miami Speedway. This racetrack was renovated just last year, with its banking maximized to 20 degrees, the highest possible. The modification was digitally duplicated into NASCAR 2005 before the actual track’s construction was even completed, giving NASCAR champs an early opportunity to sample the revised Homestead course before starting their engines on the real thing. In fact, participation from real NASCAR drivers has been instrumental to NASCAR 2005’s development process—Tiburon’s offices have been graced by everyone from Jeff Gordon to Dale Earnhardt Jr., and their input has gone a long way toward making this new NASCAR game the biggest yet.
Course geography isn’t the only big revision, though. NASCAR 2005 will also reflect all the recent changes throughout the NASCAR circuit, such as the new Nextel Cup, which replaced the all-important Winston Cup in the end of 2003. This also carries with it a new playoff point system, pitting the 10 highest-scoring racers against one another in the final 10 of the 36 races that make up the series.
Besides the Nextel Cup, there are two other series that should provide even more for NASCAR junkies: the Busch Series and the Craftsman Series. The Craftsman Series is a particularly interesting choice, since it marks the first appearance of Craftsman truck racing in a PC NASCAR title. Trucks have a distinctly different feel—much heavier, yet still fast and able to plow right through the wind. All of the trucks—and cars, for that matter—will feature detailed textures, customizable color choices, and full damage modeling for all you crash-up derby fans.
While NASCAR 2005 doesn’t have the steepest learning curve in the world, it’s heavily grounded in real-world physics. For example, there seems to be a marked necessity to compensate steering even while on some straightaways in order to account for the lean in the track. In fact, it’s safe to say that the PC version of NASCAR 2005 is a decidedly different beast than its more arcadelike console cousin, NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup. Players with a hankering for a less-realistic racing experience might be better served elsewhere—not that it’s a bad thing, but NASCAR 2005 isn’t for everyone.
The PC version of NASCAR 2005 is scheduled to launch early next year, to coincide with the 2005 season of NASCAR racing.
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Tiburon
Release Date: Q1 2005
Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Computer Gaming World.