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Is NASCAR 21: Ignition Still Worth Playing in 2024?

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What’s Happening?

NASCAR 21: Ignition has been getting some good publicity from a contingent of people on social media this week. This comes as a surprise to many given how disliked NASCAR 21: Ignition was at launch, but, opinions can change on a game as time goes on. With no new NASCAR game until the fall of 2025, is it worth it to play NASCAR 21: Ignition today?

  • NASCAR 21: Ignition was universally panned by critics and players when the game was released. While there were elements of the game that were good, the cavalcade of bugs and glitches made the game almost unplayable in certain instances.
  • However, video games can age well. NASCAR The Game: Inside Line is one NASCAR example of that, so, could NASCAR 21: Ignition do the same thing?
  • Fans are not convinced that the game is still worth playing today. Are they right?

What NASCAR 21: Ignition Does Right

For all of the issues that the game has, there are two major things the game gets right. Those are the graphics and the driving model/physics.

The game is developed on Unreal Engine, and it looks amazing. It’s about as good as any NASCAR game can look. While that’s not necessarily a reason to play the game today, at least the graphics aren’t a reason to not play the game.

The driving model is probably the best thing anyone can get out of NASCAR 21: Ignition. At its’ core, there’s a good driving game there if everything else around it could get its’ act together. This was a point of emphasis with many at the time of the game’s release, as NASCAR Heat was panned for the physics and driving model.

This could make the game fun to play in multiplayer with a group of friends you trust to race with. If you noticed in the thread highlighted above, every clip included is online gameplay. The problem is, finding people to play the game online, which leads to the issues.

What NASCAR 21: Ignition Does Wrong

As just discussed, the online gameplay in NASCAR 21: Ignition is not great. Matchmaking is clunky, and it can take a long time to get into a race. There also isn’t a ton of people playing the game either, so, that makes it more difficult to race online.

That means players have to resort to single-player, which has numerous bugs and glitches. Listing every possible bug and glitch would make this article way too long, but, the video below just how broken the game is in single-player to this day. One race track, Richmond Raceway, is virtually unplayable, even today.

The single-player modes also have very little depth. There’s no lower series, career mode is just a bunch of hot-seat offers with no true economy or management aspects, and there are just not a lot of good single-player modes. There’s nothing that keeps the player from coming back to the game.

Is It Worth Playing?

NASCAR 21: Ignition has the advantage of being playable on the newest Next-Gen consoles, and it’s the easiest game to get ahold of. If players absolutely HAVE to play a NASCAR video game before NASCAR 25 comes out, but, they only have a next-gen console with no easy way to play earlier entries, then NASCAR 21: Ignition has value.

However, if fans have the ability to play older games, I.E. recent-generation consoles and actual access to the games, there are better options out there. NASCAR Heat 5 has an official update and mods featuring the Next-Gen cars, so, fans can play a game with as updated a roster as NASCAR 21: Ignition.

NASCAR Heat 5 also has more of an online presence with deeper single-player modes. There’s a career mode where players can either work their way up “Dirt to Daytona” style or own a Cup Series team right out of the gate and a single season mode with a custom schedule feature. Yes, the driving model is not that great, but, there’s more content to keep the player engaged.

Whereas NASCAR 21: Ignition’s issues distract from the good driving model, the extra features of NASCAR Heat 5 distract from the bad driving model. The key difference is that NASCAR Heat 5 works consistently while NASCAR 21: Ignition does not.

Unless you can find a small group of good friends to play NASCAR 21: Ignition with no other possible options available, there’s no reason to play NASCAR 21: Ignition. For a more compelling gameplay experience, head to older titles such as NASCAR Heat 5.

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Joshua Lipowski

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