In the span of just one week, we’ve gone from absolutely no American Stock Car Racing presence within the next-generation console scene, to a one-two punch of officially licensed NASCAR titles gracing both Sony’s PlayStation 4, as well as Microsoft’s Xbox One. Retailing for $20 and sold through the Xbox Live Marketplace, the NASCAR Expansion for Forza Motorsport 6 includes over 20 different 2016 Sprint Cup Series entrants, and injects Homestead-Miami Speedway into what is an already mammoth car collecting simulator – serving to compliment the inclusion of Indianapolis and Daytona. While hardcore Forza Motorsport fans have already discovered issues with the drafting physics at the lone superspeedway in the game, and the vast amount of identical cars will cause headaches for those looking to turn a profit off of their custom liveries, it’s cool to see NASCAR make an officially licensed return to the Forza series. It’s a sign that NASCAR can at least explore their options when it comes to creating a virtual souvenir of a sport that has embarked upon what many are calling the most exciting season in a decade.
On the other side of the spectrum, Dusenberry Martin Racing have more or less confirmed they’ve be officially unveiling NASCAR 16 prior to the series’ annual All-Star race this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. A photo and subsequent caption uploaded from the official DMRacingGames account leaves little to the imagination – the team is no doubt set to unveil the first next-generation NASCAR console game shortly after this article goes live.
Should sim racers be excited for a dedicated NASCAR game arriving on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows-based operating systems? Yes, if only for the initial announcement and array of related media.
Due to the sports’ popularity in the early 2000’s, multiple companies across many platforms exchanged heavy blows in an effort to create the absolute best possible NASCAR experience one could purchase for their preferred entertainment system. Papyrus built a near-flawless rendition of the 2003 Winston Cup Series season, EA Sports blended fast and furious action with an incredibly deep single player campaign, and Monster Games somehow made a combination of the two an entirely worthwhile purchase on its own.
However, after EA Sports acquired the exclusive rights to develop fully-licensed NASCAR console titles, and disbanded the core NASCAR Thunder team to ensure the Madden NFL division of Tiburon Entertainment would be chalk full of talent, fans of American oval racing were promptly left out in the cold. Lazy rehashes gave way to a final entry in the EA Sports series devoid of manufacturer markings, and when the small European studio Eutechnyx somehow managed to pick things up in 2011, the results were disastrous. A preview of the environment modern sim racers have become all too familiar with, criticism of the Eutechnyx offerings were met with mass bans across the official forums, and claims from pathetic apologists that hardcore NASCAR fans merely expected too much.
Given that Dusenberry Martin have inherited the assets from the previous Eutechnyx games, getting excited for the end product isn’t the wisest of decisions, as this is basically an unproven company using elements built by another team that clearly didn’t give a shit. It’s probably not going to be very good. There are too many question marks hovering over the entire project, so it’s an easier pill to swallow if you’re only investing your excitement in preparing your anus for the initial media offerings. After the Eutechnyx disaster, which lasted for far longer than it should have, and paying a yearly fee of $60 to merely hope that they didn’t fuck up things too badly, it’s not worth waiting for the actual game to be in your hands. Buyers remorse with shovelware NASCAR titles is too difficult for American sim racers to deal with, especially when the only reasonable modern alternative is iRacing – a pricey, and sometimes far too serious endeavor. Sometimes, people don’t want a white-knuckle session of short track racing – they want to collect Thunder Plates, earn XP, progress through career mode, and partake in bite-sized reenactments of the current NASCAR season.
The screenshots and short YouTube trailers will be analyzed to death, but I don’t mind doing so and treating it like a release unto itself. The process of getting hyped for screenshots and ultimately being let down stings a lot less than actually paying money for a product where you’re immediately forced to browse the forums on launch day, wondering what the fuck went wrong and who signed off on this ridiculous deal in the first place.