NASCAR Racing 2003 Review
It’s that time of the year again where everyone gets festive and watches that awful adaptation of A Christmas Carol. However, this year I thought why not put a “twist” on the idea (for all of those Dickens fans out there) and turn it into a game I loved, a game I love and a game I am almost sure I will love.
Starting in traditional fashion let’s take a step back in time to 2003. The year in which the first Call Of Duty was released along with The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker. But for Sim-Racers it could have been the most iconic year in the whole of the genre. Papyrus released Nascar Racing 2003. It was the NASCAR sim for the season including all the cars, tracks and the ability to use a wheel with force feedback!
Whilst this all seems pretty ordinary, there are several things which makes this game unique. For those of you who have never played it but passionate fans of iRacing, I do reco
mmend picking it up as it is made by the same company (just under a different name after the company split) and carries a lot of the same traits. It’s almost like NASCAR 2003 is the infant child and iRacing is that child all grown up. The Force Feedback for a game so old is pretty good, it’s not too heavy so you feel like you’re driving a truck and doesn’t have a ON/OFF switch and that’s it. (like some sims at the time). The controls are very customisable which makes it even better for the NASCAR enthusiast who wants to find the perfect setup.
Talking of setups, you can customise just about everything on the car that you could expect to customise in iRacing. Again this will make fans very happy. Every slight adjustment affects the handling and speed of the car which again for its time is brilliant. Which brings me on to the physics. In my opinion these are very hard to get right, you don’t want to feel like you’re driving a weightless blob but also not like you’re driving a tank. Again this title delivers and can even rival those of the early Sim Bin titles.
One key feature for me was the AI. The AI in the game are very smart, responsive and very..very..clean. Now that’s great but what makes NASCAR so different as a sport is the amount of wrecks and unpredictability. So, how did Papyrus bring this into the game? Easy, edit the AI yourself. By going into one of the files in the root folder, you can customise amounts of mechanical failures, aggression, drafting distance and much more. Meaning you could either set up a demolition derby, a realistic race, or a gentleman’s race with no incidents for 200 laps! This made it perfect for every player so that they find their comfort zone or will even branch out to try something new. There were and still are many good times to be had messing around with the AI settings.
The graphics are also excellent and in my opinion are almost up to scratch with those from rFactor. There is a lot of customisation and again you get that sesne of iRacing blood coursing through its veins with the way it looks. The cars look brilliant and at the start of a race you can even see the white stripes on the tires from being fresh out of the paddock which is a really nice feature. The scenery is very well crafted and changes from track to track which again adds a sense of it being an official title.
But perhaps one of the best features of this long lost treasure is the community. It is still extremely strong and every year there are 2 or 3 mods for the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series. Bringing you all the cars, liveries, tracks to what seems to be an outdated title. But it works beautifully. For NASCAR fans outside of the USA who do not have a region free console or do not want to spend endless hours on the internet looking for a way to get Eutechnyx’ latest console title it is perfect. You get all the drivers, teams and liveries put into a game where you can customise just about every characteristic of the AI. There is even an option in the game for an Opponent Manager. This effectively is a simple version of the .ini file and you can model each opponent as to what their real life counterpart is doing. So if you wanted to see Trevor Bayne at the front of the field (like myself) then you can boost his stats up which for the time is a fantastic feature.
It also carries more similarities to iRacing than first thought. The spotter feeds you the same information, and even the F1, F2 and F3 buttons bring up the Session info, Standings and Fuel!
Overall NASCAR Racing 2003 is a fantastic title, and if you never had the chance to play it then you are truly missing out. Endless mods and endless fun for a game which was way ahead of its time. You still find yourself playing through season after season and not many games give you that burning passion to play it after a long day when they’re 9 years old.
But how does it compare to the Game of Christmas Present?
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