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Everything that NASCAR The Game: Inside Line Got WRONG

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Joshua Lipowski

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With iRacing getting the NASCAR license, we have started thinking back at some recent NASCAR video games in the past and taking an honest look at them. Today, we will start by looking at the second game in the Eutechnyx era of NASCAR gaming, NASCAR The Game: Inside Line.

A Brief Look at Its’ Predecessor

When looking at what this game got right, it is important to know what preceded this game. In this case, it was NASCAR The Game: 2011. This game, to say the least, was not received particularly well by the fanbase.

The gameplay was odd with a bad handling model, very bad AI, and bare-bones game features. In single-player, there was not even a true career mode. Online play was incredibly buggy and glitchy with some claiming the game was “Unplayable” online at launch. The graphics were fine, but they were nothing to write home about.

Eutechnyx did not do any favors with this first game, so, they went to the drawing board for their second game. NASCAR The Game: Inside Line was released on November 6th, 2012, and, was it an improvement?

What NASCAR The Game Inside Line Got RIGHT

Handling Model/Tire Wear

When people think back on NASCAR The Game: Inside Line, this is what they think back on most fondly. While the NASCAR Heat games, NASCAR The Game: 2011, and even some of the EA Sports games were criticized for their driving model, NTG: Inside Line was and still is the gold standard when it comes to the driving model. It truly feels like you are driving a stock car, and it is a lot of fun to drive.

It gets even better when you look at the tire wear. There is true tire wear in the game, and it truly is a skill to learn if you want to become proficient at the game. Particularly at tracks like Atlanta where tire wear is more prevalent, the player has to be mindful of how they use their tires throughout a run.

If you run as fast as possible, sliding your tires all throughout the early part of a run, you will pay for it later in a run. If you want to truly get skilled at the game, you have to learn how to manage tires all throughout a full run, and it makes the game that much more fun.

This is where the game shines the brightest, at least in single-player. It’s the best tire wear and handling model ever seen in a NASCAR console video game.

Paint Booth

One of the best elements about this game that is missing from many modern NASCAR games is a paint booth. Some of the games since Eutechnyx have had a paint booth, but none were quite as deep as this one. From the different shapes, number fonts, colors, logos, and everything.

This paint booth was very good, and it allowed players to express their creativity in unique ways. The biggest issue with this was that there was no way to share paint schemes with other players, but, this game did come out in 2012 after all. Regardless, the paint booth is a positive with this game.

Improved Online

The online mode in this game was far from perfect, but we can get to some of those negatives in a bit. This online mode was a vast improvement from the previous game because, well, it works! There was a community on this game as is evidenced by many of the different leagues that were created on this game.

This game allowed for private lobbies, which made it easier for players to set up lobbies to play with just their friends. Again, it was far from perfect, but, compared to some of the online experiences of its’ successors, it may be the best online we have seen in a post-EA Sports NASCAR video game.

Graphics

The graphics are not by any means the most important element of this game, but, for a PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360 video game, this game looks pretty good. One could argue this game is better looking than some of the NASCAR Heat games on the next generation of consoles. It may not hold a candle to how some games look today including NASCAR 21: Ignition, but, it is an improvement on NASCAR The Game: 2011.

What NASCAR The Game Inside Line Got WRONG

For all that this game got right, there is a lot that this game got wrong. What are some of the less-than-stellar features of NASCAR The Game: Inside Line?

The AI

Eutchnyx games had one major flaw in them, and that was the AI. Inside Line is no different as the AI are not great at certain race tracks. Sometimes the AI will randomly brake in the middle of a straightaway for no reason at all.

There are some times that the AI is way too easy, and there are other times where they make some questionable pitting decisions. They also struggle significantly when they hit lapped traffic. While the game is fun to drive, the AI sometimes feels like they’re more in your way than you’re actually racing them.

The Career Mode

The career mode is improved in this game, but it’s not exactly stellar. What happens in this game is you start with a bad car, then you get sponsors and earn money based on how you finish to buy upgrades for the car. It’s not a bad concept, but, it does not take very long to get your car fully upgraded and competitive.

Oftentimes, you can win a Championship in your rookie season, and it feels like there is no incentive to come back. There is also no buying a pit crew, shop additions, or even an owner mode. It’s definitely better than the previous game, but it’s by no means anywhere close to the EA Sports games or even NASCAR Dirt to Daytona.

Online Glitches

While the online was massively improved with Inside Line, the game also had some online glitches as well. It was a good experience that many look back on fondly, but it was far from a perfect one. From lag bubbles to freezing glitches to just wild things happening during a race. Again, this does not take away fully from the good of this online mode, but it is something that should be acknowledged.

NASCAR The Game Inside Line is looked back on fondly by many, and it is easy to see why. What features from this game should be used in the next NASCAR video game?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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