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Nascar: Dirt to Daytona Package Art
 GENRE
  Racing
 DEVELOPER
  Monster Games, Inc.
 PUBLISHER
  Infogrames
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1-4
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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Nascar: Dirt to Daytona

NASCAR Fannicus Grandius:

Also see: Crackers, Hillbillies, Mullet-wearing Rednecks. Found to be indigenous to television sets and large steel “grandstands” that feature beer, cheap women, and hot dogs. If one were to scan a NASCAR grandstand, one could spot the NASCAR Fannicus via the “business at the front—party at the rear” mullet. Also, listen for their mating call: “Lindy Lou, it’s your brother, Jed. Come on over here sister! I have an itch that only y’all can fix!” Be warned. NASCAR Fannicus fan is often mesmerized by the rotating gyrations of the vehicles they transfix their five brain cells on.

Although diversity in the NASCAR fan has begun to appear, the “Yankees” that watch NASCAR don’t outweigh the Southern Comfort of the sport. Most NASCAR fans boil down to Zed and Zeik guzzling beer and throwing the empties at their wives. I mean, who else could sit down for hours and watch cars only making left turns?

BUT WAIT! Infogrames has created a DIVERSE, SOPHISTICATED racing simulation that is far and away the best technical racer on the GameCube to date. What’s more is that they accomplished this with a FULL NASCAR license as well.

In video game form though, NASCAR is a lot like golf for me. I hate to watch it, but I don’t mind playing it. Dirt to Daytona allows for a lot of diversity because of the four different types of racing (modified, trucks, actual NASCAR and skeet shooting beer bottles—just kidding y’all) and the tons of play modes. In addition, the game is deep in both Set-Up, Season and Gameplay. These elements combine to create a fantastic, pure-racing experience for any gear head. If you like a challenging and technical sim racer, then grab this game whether you like NASCAR or not.

From the team that brought you NASCAR Heat…it’s time to roll from Dirt To Daytona…YEEEEHAAWWW!!

visuals

Clear and crisp. Although there is visual evidence that this game was designed for the PS2 (in the form of jaggies appearing once in a while), the frame rate stays solid for the most part. The level of detail on the track and the sidelines is great. You’ll see pickup trucks, RV’s and cheap dates (seriously!) inside the ovals, and all of the tracks look like their real-life counterparts. On the track, cars will take damage, parts will fly, and every detail—from decals to dents—is there for you to see.

What I like about any great racing sim is the visual pace. This game isn’t going at a blazing BURNOUT speed, rather, it moves at a pace that gives you the feeling of speed, but also allows you to make decisions and strategies during the race. Most importantly, you can see the turn well before you make it, which I can’t stress enough how important that is in a simulation racer.

All the cars are excellently scaled and modeled, and you can view the action from a half dozen camera angles, rear view mirrors, and even half a dozen different real time in-race data tracking HUD’s. With all that, you still get some massive pile ups to drive through! This game does it all visually and does it very well.

audio

The soundtrack to the game has a twangy Stratocaster vibe to it that doesn’t impose itself on you. In terms of in-game audio action, you’ll hear all of the events as they transpire, including a slashed tire when you’re in modified form! You’ll also hear the roar of the crowd, your pit boss, and even spotters telling you where your opposition is and if you’re clear. What I don’t like about the audio is that the engines definitely could’ve been beefed up a lot more. Worst of all, in the excellent Beat the Heat mode, I wish I could have a sniper take out my pit boss so I wouldn’t have to hear “GO GO GO!” all the bloody time!

Overall, the audio input you get from your team doesn’t intrude on your enjoyment of the game, and the sound effects cover everything from A to Zeik. Oh, and Dolby Pro Logic II support. Decent job here.

gameplay

Surprise! I thought turning left would be a "drag" but this game is deep. The handling characteristics of Dirt, Modified, Truck, and Winston cars are all significantly different, and it’s like playing a new game each time you jump into a different series. There are 31 tracks to race through, and each has its own unique features in terms of banking and apex radius that you have to master. There are also many amazing modes of play: Championship (one year), Single Race, Beat the Heat (think of a task challenge mode), Pro Trainer (race against the pros), a thirty year career mode that is outstanding in its depth, and a multiplayer mode. WOW!

The career mode needs mention here. First of all, the interface is an office and a garage that works beautifully in helping you get through your career. You manage a team. That’s the bottom line. You have to decide on which sponsors to ally with, what set-up you want for each race, etc. It’s extremely deep and I’m not one to go ga-ga over these franchise things, but this mode is superlative!! You begin by running in the dirt and once you get good enough at that, you use those winnings to finance your modified team—all the while making judgement calls on what equipment to buy. It sounds boring but forget it, this is a killer mode that will literally bury you on what it is to own a race team. This career mode is undoubtedly the best I've seen in any racer period, maybe in any sports game.

The in-game set-up is so wicked! You can dial in wedge, tires and on and on. During the race, you can even check out how each tire is handling in terms of durability. That is just out-bloody-standing! I’m a gear head and all of these features are great. But if you want to keep it simple, there’s room for you as well.

The presentation of the gameplay is excellent as well as it is soaked with the NASCAR license. You’ll hear from a lot of the drivers in FMV as well. I really am surprised at how satisfying this game is!

multiplayer

Once you get two guys (or girls) who can master the controls and physics of Dirt to Daytona, you can have some incredible four-way races. Playing this game isn’t like whipping around in F-Zero; to me, it’s more fun with friends because any little slip-up and it’s “BACK OF THE LINE”! Not to mention that unlike other racing simulators, “Rubbin’” is part of racing here. Lots of fun with three other buds.

overall

Infogrames and Monster Games Inc. have done a flat-out killer job on this title. It’s an excellent representation of the sport. This game has that “magnetic” quality; when you get frustrated with a certain challenge and just want to throw your Wavebird, you won't be able to help yourself and keep going. I think Dirt to Daytona kills EA’s effort because it’s just so much deeper and more solid. Also, just like Madden, this game makes me see the sport it covers in a whole new light. Yes, I said, “Madden.” It’s that good.

As I said, this isn’t F-Zero or Burnout. It is a much richer, deeper racing experience that you’ll appreciate for the accuracy of the physics and game play. I really enjoyed this game and for serious race fans that have a GC, there’s no better option out there. I mean it. Go out and buy this excellent simulation racer.

Great job! I give it the checkered flag!



final score 9.4/10





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Staff Avatar Eric Mattei
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"Lost like tears in rain"


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