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NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona
Score: 92%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Infogrames
Developer: Infogrames
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2 (1 - 4 w/Multitap)
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:
If you're looking for a racer with impressive eye candy, then look no further. Infogrames has pushed the envelope on the PS2 with their latest, NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona. Not only do the cars and tracks look incredible, but the real-time damage also shows every scrape and crash with sweet damage effects. In fact, if you prefer to race with the view from inside the driver's seat, crashing too much or too hard can hinder your vision, as your hood will slowly creep up into your field of view. And with each crash, or even a simple spinout, you'll also be treated to cool smoke effects that make driving through it all that much harder, and fun.

Although there's nothing really new in Dirt to Daytona, by way of the sound fx, that is, what is there is well done. From the first rev of your engine, you'll be treated to everything from simply hearing cars pass each other to the sliding of tires and the crunching of metal. And if you have a stereo setup at home, you'll be treated to Dolby Pro Logic II Surround sound, which amplifies the feeling of truly being on the track and behind the wheel.

Just as its title suggests, NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona is a racing fan's perfect dream. You'll get to try your hand at 31 different tracks, ranging from simple small-time dirt tracks using modified cars right up to racing the big time, highly popular events that racing fans love. In fact, the Career mode lets you try your hand at all four of the NASCAR series including, Weekly Racing Series Presented by Dodge, Featherlite Modified Series, Craftsman Truck Series, and the Cup Series.

A couple of other modes of play include the Race the Pro series, Beat the Heat (in which you take on many different scenarios), and Multiplayer. And although each mode has its own fun built in, testing out each mode will help you a lot in the long run. Dirt to Daytona is a game that anyone can jump into and control, but just as in real life, races are won or lost by mere fractions of a second. So, the more you practice, the better you will become. Taking corners perfectly will result in wins, while the slightest slip may cost you dearly when you reach the harder difficulties in the game.

Hands down, the best part of Dirt to Daytona is the variety you'll face in each mode of play and with each track you race. But for gear heads out there, you'll find even more to do as the game allows you to tweak and customize your car in so many ways that it may boggle your mind. And for those of you (like me) who just want to race, you don't have to worry about a thing between races. All you have to do is sit back, and put the pedal to the medal.

Dirt to Daytona's gameplay delivers the exact essence of a pick-up-and-go video game. Anyone with a bit of dexterity and some time on their hands should be able to figure out the handling of each car on each track. It will take some practice, however, to become a NASCAR quality driver, so don't expect to burn up the track right away. As you work your way through the different modes of the game, the AI of the computer drivers will increase, making the replay value of NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona pretty high.

Game Mechanics:
As stated above, anyone should be able to jump right into this latest NASCAR game. The only real problem I had with the game's controlling scheme is that it's very easy to not push the 'gas pedal' all the way in. Dirt to Daytona takes advantage of the PS2 controller's pressure sensitive buttons, so the harder you press the button, the faster you will go. Unfortunately, what this means is that you have to jam your finger hard throughout the entire race, or you run the risk of decreasing your speed and losing the race.

Other than that small issue, NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona is a solid game with great graphics and gameplay that any fan of racing will love. You get all of your favorite games in one little package. For those of you that only like racing games with a 'twist' in them (like powerups, etc.), then you may want to look elsewhere. Dirt to Daytona is a straightforward realistic racing game. This means that fans of racing games will definitely want to check it out.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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