Eutechnyx has been in the business of making racing games for the last twenty-five years. And thats all they know how to do. But when you take a British racing game developer and give them the license to recreate the experience of America's favorite motorsport in a video game, the task of recreating the experience is a difficult task at hand.
Their first NASCAR game release was NASCAR The Game 2011. Despite the fact that it was their first NASCAR title, Eutechnyx was on the right track with creating the ultimate NASCAR experience. Unfortunately, the experience was overshadowed by game-breaking bugs and glitches.
To learn from their mistakes, Eutechnyx worked long and hard to ensure that their next NASCAR title, NASCAR The Game: Inside Line, would provide fans and gamers alike that experience.
But how is this game overall?
I was fortunate enough to get a copy of NASCAR The Game: Inside Line for Xbox 360 and have my time with the game. Now its time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
Graphics and Physics
NASCAR The Game: Inside Line sets out to create the best NASCAR experience ever built for consoles. First thing to look at is the physics and graphics. The graphics are definitely improved and even better than NASCAR The Game 2011. The physics are definitely improved. The handling of the cars are nice, but they seem to be too nice. The handling can be abit sensitive and squirrelly at times. Despite that, the graphics and physics are definitely improved.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
One of Eutechnyx's biggest tasks for Inside Line was to recreate the overall racing experience with an overhauled Career Mode. In Career Mode, you start out as yourself driving a Sprint Cup Series-themed paint scheme for your own created team. You then race your way through the ranks and earn CR (credits) to buy upgrades to your engine, chassis, etc.
Overall, the experience in Career Mode is great. You have that feeling of actually driving the car in real-life with the crew-chief and spotter talking to me. I also enjoy hearing him discuss pit-stops with me. While it is nice to feel the overall experience of driving and being in the car, there are a few things that did bother me a bit about the mode.
While I do start out with a non-upgraded car, you are able to upgrade your car (to where you can win races) in almost half a season. I would like to be able to upgrade my cars performance in a matter of a season or two.
Also, at times, I was not able to start where I ended up qualifying. I qualified 30th at Daytona, and I ran in the top-10 in the Duels, and I still ended up racing from 43rd when the Daytona 500 started (Note that this is a glitch and has been reported and is being investigated).
Overall, the experience of Career Mode is great. I get the feeling of being a race-car driver. But with some tweaks, they could have an awesome mode.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
For the first time ever in a NASCAR video game, telemetry data is used to recreate and rewrite races that have occurred in the last two seasons (2011 and 2012). NASCAR gave Eutechnyx this data to help recreate the challenges. The challenges range from events including Dale Jr's near-win at Charlotte in May of 2011, to Joey Logano and Mark Martin's fierce battle at Pocono back in June.
Overall, the challenges are really fun and challenging and I think its worth giving a try.
Score: 9.0 out of 10
Eutechnyx promised to improve the overall look of the damage model for NASCAR The Game: Inside Line. While improving the damage model, they included DNF's when you crash and ruin your engine and suspension.
After wrecking and getting damage over a dozen times, I can tell that they did improve the damage. But at the same time however, it does have its flaws.
I have wrecked extremely hard at Daytona and after all the impacts and carnage, I never got a DNF. At times, the damage is both realistic and unrealistic. When it works right, the damage actually looks realistic. But again, the lack of DNF's and consistent damage when hitting the wall hard makes the damage model pretty subpar.
Score: 6.0 out of 10
One of the most improved aspects of NASCAR The Game: Inside Line is the AI (computer-controlled cars). They have taken steps to improve the AI and its competitiveness. On Hard and Champion (the highest level of AI difficulty), you can not finish any better than the top-25 or even 30. They are that quick and that aggressive.
Even though its a tough AI system, there are acouple issues with it. They are "brake-checking" at several tracks (including Auto Club, Michigan, and Richmond), and whenever you pit, they all pit simultaneously (which makes it a disaster coming into pit-road).
Despite the minor issues, the AI is definitely improved. I enjoy racing against them and its definitely improved as advertised.
Score: 9.0 out of 10
Last but certainly not least, lets look at the online multiplayer.
NASCAR The Game 2011 was hindered by all sorts of online bugs an glitches that make online racing almost impossible. It took three patches to fix the mistakes.
With NASCAR The Game: Inside Line, the multiplayer was suppose to be improved and redone. While it does have its positives, there are more negative aspects of it.
For instance, when I join a session, I always am placed in a session that has started and then I have to wait atleast 10-20 minutes to join in. They did not do a good job at setting up the matchmaking very well. If they were to put you in rooms that are waiting for players to get a race going, then I think the experience would be alot better.
Also, the racing does have some bugs and glitches that are being addressed by Eutechnyx.
Players have reported (and I have had this issue as well) that when a caution comes out, half of the room is invisible and cannot be seen by the majority of players. This hinders the online experience. When starting the race, there is still a bug where half of the field goes and a few drivers that slowly creep to the start/finish line (this also hindered racing in NTG: 2011).
Online multiplayer has been incredibly frustrating just to play, and the bugs/glitches end up making it even more frustrating. Eutechnyx needs to figure out the issues and fix the bugs with the multiplayer. It can be enjoyable again with a successful patch. But at this point, its not worth the hassle and frustration.
Score: 4.0 out of 10
After playing this game for over a dozen hours (over the course of three days), I have come to the conclusion that overall, this game is really enjoyable. The offline modes are great and adds more to the overall NASCAR experience and it somewhat levels out the poor online multiplayer.
I think this game will appeal to those who are hardcore NASCAR fans. The overall experience in this game will bring them back for more. But at the same time, if you are a hardcore NASCAR gamer who only wants to race online, then unfortunately you won't be impressed by whats shown online.
Regardless of all that, Eutechnyx set out to create the most authentic NASCAR experience ever, and I think they did that and then some. With realistic crashes, challenges, tracks, and rules, NASCAR The Game: Inside Line will appeal to both new and old players.
My final score for the game is calculated by how enjoyable the experience was, and how stable the game is. Overall, online multiplayer and the damage model are the two features of this game that keep me from giving it an ever better score. Everything else that I have issues with are very minor.
Hopefully Eutechnyx will go back to the drawing board and build a patch to fix most of the issues with NASCAR The Game: Inside Line.
Without further adu, here is my final score for this game.
Final Score: 8.0 out of 10
PLEASE NOTE: The bugs and glitches that I have mentioned in this review are being addressed by Eutechnyx.