NASCAR The Game 2011
borrows a page from DiRT 2
(a better racing game) for presentation inspiration, having all the Options Menus located in some sort of garage. Putting you right in the middle of the behind-the-scenes action works wonders when trying to build the sense of immersion that's so crucial to this medium. However, DiRT 2
was a better-looking game, too, so all it really did was remind me that DiRT 3
is right around the corner. I'm sorry; that's not at all fair to NASCAR 2011
, which is a functional virtual representation of the second most watched professional sport in the United States. Luckily, the racing looks pretty good. The sense of speed is there, as is the sense of damage. However, the jaw-dropping crashes viewers (and players of NASCAR
games of the past) are used to don't make the transition quite so smoothly. Additionally, there's a bit of throwaway animation work; placing first results in an extremely awkward bit of fist pumping on the part of your racer.
Let me be perfectly clear: ZZ Top's "La Grange" is an awesome song. It's a classic that almost never gets old. But, in NASCAR 2011, it does -- big time. There's more to the game's soundtrack than the Tres Hombres, but it never shuffles; every time you return to the main screen or need to parse through the menu screens, the music will return you to that home out on the range (they gotta lotta nice girls, ah!). I mean, have mercy! The sound effects are solid, though, and capture the intensity of stock car racing quite nicely.