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OS Scores Explained NASCAR The Game: Inside Line Overview (Xbox 360)
Pros
Improved career mode; Challenges and invitational events provide some variety; Assists help out newcomers.
Cons
Online is still a mess; Spotter becomes annoying over time; A.I. can get aggravating
Bottom Line
Multiplayer is still in disarray, so if you are looking to pick this game up, I hope it is for the revamped career mode.
5.5
out of 10
NASCAR The Game: Inside Line REVIEW

NASCAR The Game: Inside Line Review (Xbox 360)

Eutechnyx picked up the NASCAR license a few years ago and released NASCAR 2011: The Game. Unfortunately for them and Activision, it had numerous online issues, bugs, and a single player campaign that only lasted one season. With NASCAR the Game: Inside Line, Eutechnyx looks to fix all of those problems and make a NASCAR game that fans can truly enjoy from the first day.
 
 
Gameplay

Core gameplay has remained virtually untouched, except for a few new features here and there. It's hard to revolutionize the gameplay in a NASCAR game, and Eutechnyx did a superb job keeping the same experience intact from their first foray with the license a 18 months ago.

Driver assists, including automatic or manual transmission, steering assist, etc., can all be changed to your liking at any time. It's a great feature for people who are new to the NASCAR games. Not only that, but the difficulty can also be changed prior to a race weekend. Unlike the assists, though, once the race weekend starts, you can no longer change the difficulty options.

There is no racing line, but a "slow" and "brake" icon will show up in the middle of the screen to let you know when to do both of those things. It won't be necessary for hardcore NASCAR fans, but for those who might just be breaking into the series, it's nice that it's there again.

Rewinds, or as Inside Line calls them, retries are in the game. Unlike other racing games where you can get infinite ones, you are limited to only two per race here. They actually do come in handy. The A.I. can be overly aggressive at times and will, occasionally, spin you out. Being able to retry from right before that occurred is something that, I think, makes the game better.

The game features 40 drivers - such as Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart -- 23 licensed tracks, including Talladega and Homestead-Miami.
 
 
During the time spent on the track, you will have a spotter that warns you if a car is going low, high, or about to pass you. Having him is really not necessary, unless you use a camera angle different from the default one. If using the default camera angle, the rear-view mirror at the top of the screen and the directional marker at the bottom of the screen do enough to let you know where the other drivers are on the track without hearing the spotter repeat the same lines over and over.

Challenges, just like the invitational events, provide some variety to the overall package. Two different types of challenges are included; Head to Head and Highlights. The highlight challenges are doing things like drafting a certain driver until the last lap and then pass them, to holding off a driver for the last five laps. The head to head ones are just like they sound, go one-on-one with any driver in the game on any track. Throughout the year, there will be auto updates that will add new highlight challenges to the game, as of right now only ones from the 2011 season and three from the 2012 season are available.

Trivia questions return during loading screens, and they really could take away from the loading times, but even after the first race, they start to repeat. Celebrating is also something that can be done after winning a race -- from driving a victory lap to doing a burnout.

Gameplay overall is something that will feel similar to fans of the NASCAR video games. Some things might be intimidating for newcomers, but it really doesn't take a long to get your bearings. It's definitely not something for everybody, however, but it's gameplay that feels right for a NASCAR game (single player wise).
 
 
Career Mode

Unlike in NASCAR 2011: The Game - which had you only driving in one season - NASCAR the Game: Inside Line features a much more deep and robust career mode. The leveling up feature from the old game is gone. You still start out as a no name driver with no sponsors, with your goal being to climb up the ranks and win the championship, but the level progression is no more. For those wondering, only the Sprint Cup series is featured, there is no Nationwide or Truck series in the game.

Practices and qualifying can be bypassed if you just want to get into the racing action. If those are your cup of tea, each race has a couple of practice and a qualifying sessions for you to test out the track and your setup before the big race day. Skipping a specific track and event is also possible, but if you do that no credits will be earned.

Those credits are earned for completing sponsor challenges, like drafting a certain amount in a race and winning races. Credits are used to purchase upgrades for your engine, brakes, transmission, and chassis. They are not needed unless you are playing on the highest difficulty level, but they can help you out if the A.I. is giving you fits.

Invitational events will give you a breather from the intense racing action. They range from not being in last when the timer hits zero (eliminator) to a time trial where you have are given five laps to beat three target times.

Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip provide pre-race commentary, but that's it. Once the race starts, it's just you and your spotter - although you do get Waltrip's famous line "Boogity, Boogity, Boogity! Let's go racin', boys!" before the start of every race. It would have been nice to have them commentate a whole race, but it's not something that makes the career mode any less fun to play.
 
 
Multiplayer

Online play in NASCAR 2011: The Game was horrendous at launch, with no ability to change your driver once you select one, weird glitches when a race starts, and sudden disconnections. Eutechnyx has promised all of that is fixed, and sadly, it is not.

First off, cars in the front of the pack at the beginning of the race still get a good 2-3 second head start over everyone else. Not only that - but cars will still go through each other during a caution - which will sometimes mess up the order before the race restarts.

Once the actual racing begins, it's extremely inconsistent. There are times where you will complete a race with no problems at all. Then there are times where lag and the problems previously mentioned rear their ugly heads and make the online simply unplayable.

It's 16-player races online, so you can't fill up a full 43 car field. Honestly, that's a good thing. With their net code, there is no telling how bad the game would be if 43 human players could race at the same time. The lobby system is similar to the previous installment. You can veto tracks if you want and you can actually change your online car at any time, unlike like last year where you would have to start a new save to do so.

The paint shop makes a return. So for those artists out there, you can make a design for your race car and show it off. Tuning is also here again, and for most, it's vital to the online experience. The same tuning features are available offline in the single player as well, but to get the upper hands on your online opponents, you will need to know a good setup. Neither the paint shop or tuning received significant improvements, but they didn't really need any, it's just nice they are both back.

Suggesting Inside Line as a multiplayer game is something that can not be done at the present time. There are far too many lingering issues that have yet to be fixed. That's too bad, because the PlayStation 2 NASCAR games were insanely fun to play online with friends, and even random players. After two unsuccessful attempts, we're not really sure if Eutechnyx can actually make a properly working online experience.
 
 
Final Thoughts

NASCAR the Game: Inside Line's improvements on the single player front are immediately noticeable. From being able to drive in multiple seasons, to the car upgrades, and the challenges, the single player aspect of Inside Line is there. It's just a real shame that is not the case for online multiplayer, which is still stuck in pit road.

Learning Curve: Falling somewhere between easy and hard, NASCAR the Game: Inside Line, might take awhile for some players to get used to . A quick two-lap race when you first start the game does a good job at teaching you the basics if you are new to these type of games, but expect to have some trouble during your first couple of races. The assists in the game do enough to make the game more enjoyable for the casual audience.

Visuals: An improved overall look to the game. Each track looks outstanding and the car models are detailed down to the last sponsor. Shadows are a bit off in night races and the pit crew could look better, but even those can't hold back the overall look of the game Inside Line is easily the best looking NASCAR game yet.

Audio: Commentary is featured from Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip, but only before a race. The spotter is really not needed and he can get annoying at times. But hey, at least all the cars sound great.

Customization: The paint booth is back, so you can put any design on your race car. Driver assists and difficulty can also all be tweaked to your liking. Setups and tuning are something fans will be glad to know are still here. You can even purchase driver setups from your favorite pro driver.

Value: For a full $60, it's an easy game to recommend for those only interested in the offline play. From the challenges, to the revitalized career mode, you can easily enjoy what the single player has to offer. However, once you hop online to play the game, you'll immediately regret purchasing it. Hopefully the multiplayer issues get ironed out with a future patch -- but for right now -- it's safe to say wait on picking up NASCAR the Game: Inside Line if multiplayer is the main attraction for you.

Score: 5.5 (Average)

NASCAR The Game: Inside Line Videos
Member Comments
# 1 brandon27 @ 12/04/12 11:17 AM
Quote:
It would have been nice to be able to play through a full season with your favorite driver, but that is nothing that ultimately hurts the career mode.
Uh... you can do that. You can play either a single season mode using your created cars, or using any real driver, or you can play a chase for the cup mode, where you just play through the last 10 races and run for the championship. Hard to trust a review that misses a detail like that.

That being said, I don't think its a very fair review at all. Online play, I can't really comment on, racing games online generally are pretty difficult to play since alot of people either are awful at it, or they like to just cause wrecks.

The visuals are outstanding in the game IMO. Cars look great, the tracks look great, the lighting and the effects on the cars are nice, smoke and car damage from crashes look good too.

Commentary is pretty difficult to pull off in a racing game IMO. I dont think it serves a purpose. I'm too busy listening to the roar of the engines, and hearing a car coming up behind you, or inside, or driving by, or hearing my car if it bottoms out on the track.

Bottom line to me... I think the experience this game creates overall offline is that of a great racing game. You can have some pretty awesome races against the AI. It has a few issues, sure, mainly online apparently, but I wouldnt know, but overall the career mode is nice, the paint booth is nice, the racing is fun, and challenging at times.

To be honest, a 5.5 out of 10 is way too negative IMO. For me, without factoring in online, because as I said, I dont play it, I think the game is easily a 7. I'm sure most that have it would agree that the offline racing can be really good, and alot of fun. Maybe a higher rating could be warratned if they had some more features and game play modes, and made the career even deeper, its a big step from where it was last year, but more depth is always great. Just felt like reading this review from the get go was going to be negative.
 
# 2 Stormyhog @ 12/04/12 11:42 AM
I think the review score was to heavily based on the multiplayer experience in my opinion. For me I don't touch multiplayer in any sports game just not as fun as offline to me usually to many issues. I am enjoying the game offline and don't regret my purchase at all. I would give it a 7.5 but would get higher if mp ran better. Maybe it's time OS has a seperate single player score because 5.5 makes it seem like it's terrible which it's not overall.
 
# 3 Lieutenant Dan @ 12/04/12 12:06 PM
Like Brandon, I'm not an online racer either. I have heard there are issues again this year, but also have heard there was improvement over last year's game and that Eutechnyx are finalizing a patch.

If the MP is really that broken, I can see it putting a hurt on the overall score, but 5.5 seems a bit extreme.

Also, as Brandon pointed out, there are some flaws in the review. You CANNOT use your created car from the paint shop in your career mode at this time. You CAN race a full season as your favorite driver.

As to the game itself, I think it's got some problems but overall is quite a lot more enjoyable this year than the previous title was. The racing is quite a bit better, but the AI can be overly aggressive at times if they don't 'see' you. The 'retry' function helps with those WTF? moments.

Restarts can be weird at times, especially towards the end of a race. A bunch of cars will even try to pit just after a restart which you have to watch out for on the inside, as they slow down abruptly to enter pit lane and it's not expected. I am hoping this stuff gets addressed in the patch, but keeping outside on the first lap of a restart and be ready for anything helps.

Graphics are extremely good this year, I love all the improvements they made. The night races are now very good looking, no more of this starting at dusk stuff with the messed up tones and lighting. The tracks look much better, with proper coloring to the surfaces and brighter colors. It's a colorful sport, and it comes through here.

Sounds of the cars are really good. I like the commentary bits pre-race with the great camera scans of the track, cars, and trophy. Very NASCAR Thunder 2004-ish, but a lot prettier. The spotter is good for the most part, but I need him to warn me more accurately of cars entering the pits under green. The music has grown on me as I've spent hours in the paint booth listening to it while I work, LOL.

SP gameplay is fun this year, the cars have a better feel to them overall. I like that the game is 'racey' this year and the races feel more organic. Not F1 2012 level yet, but certainly improved and going in the right direction. The assists work very well. The gulf in difficulty between Medium and Hard is pretty wide, however. You can rule in Medium and then struggle on Hard. This is not a game-killer, but it could stand to be tweaked.

The Paint Booth is improved this year as well. The interface can be a little burdensome at times compared to last year's title, but it's worth it for Mirror Mode, more fonts, true black, extra sponsors, and better lighting in the garage so the colors represent accurately on the track.

In my single player world of Paint Boothing, single race events, and the Career Mode, I'm having a good time so far with Inside Line. As the game stands now with it's AI quirks in SP and whatever it's MP issues may be, I'd score it for the way I play it as a 7.5/10. Post patch, that might bring it up .5 or a whole point, we'll see how that goes.
 
# 4 Rules @ 12/04/12 12:15 PM
Offline has been improved tremendously!!! Yes online is not working properly but outside of some minor bugs in offline that are set to be addressed with a patch, I would have to disagree with this review.
 
# 5 RUFFNREADY @ 12/04/12 01:28 PM
This is a good game; and the review gives this game no justice. yes, the MP is terrible; but the devs are working on a patch that could hopefully fix those problems. As for the cpu/AI being overly aggressive is an understatement. lol
checkout what i mean:

And i don't drive on easy!
cheers
 
# 6 Bubba_Zanetti @ 12/04/12 01:59 PM
Man, still heavily on the fence with this game. Still have little doubts about some of the silly AI stuff that happens. I only care about career mode -- too many idiots online (except for iRacing). I have NR2003 but I want a console Nascar game with better graphics.

I'm holding out for the patch before purchase.
 
# 7 VisceralBishop @ 12/04/12 02:26 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by RUFFNREADY
This is a good game; and the review gives this game no justice. yes, the MP is terrible; but the devs are working on a patch that could hopefully fix those problems. As for the cpu/AI being overly aggressive is an understatement. lol
checkout what i mean:

And i don't drive on easy!
cheers
I can't give a game a better score because a patch might fix the problems I had with it. As somebody told me on Twitter, "Offer a finished product to market, not a work in progress."
 
# 8 VisceralBishop @ 12/04/12 02:34 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by brandon27
Uh... you can do that. You can play either a single season mode using your created cars, or using any real driver, or you can play a chase for the cup mode, where you just play through the last 10 races and run for the championship. Hard to trust a review that misses a detail like that.

That being said, I don't think its a very fair review at all. Online play, I can't really comment on, racing games online generally are pretty difficult to play since alot of people either are awful at it, or they like to just cause wrecks.

The visuals are outstanding in the game IMO. Cars look great, the tracks look great, the lighting and the effects on the cars are nice, smoke and car damage from crashes look good too.

Commentary is pretty difficult to pull off in a racing game IMO. I dont think it serves a purpose. I'm too busy listening to the roar of the engines, and hearing a car coming up behind you, or inside, or driving by, or hearing my car if it bottoms out on the track.

Bottom line to me... I think the experience this game creates overall offline is that of a great racing game. You can have some pretty awesome races against the AI. It has a few issues, sure, mainly online apparently, but I wouldnt know, but overall the career mode is nice, the paint booth is nice, the racing is fun, and challenging at times.

To be honest, a 5.5 out of 10 is way too negative IMO. For me, without factoring in online, because as I said, I dont play it, I think the game is easily a 7. I'm sure most that have it would agree that the offline racing can be really good, and alot of fun. Maybe a higher rating could be warratned if they had some more features and game play modes, and made the career even deeper, its a big step from where it was last year, but more depth is always great. Just felt like reading this review from the get go was going to be negative.
The sentence you quoted was me referring to the career mode. I found no way to use my favorite driver (Jeff Gordon) in that mode. Yes, you can use them in the season mode or Chase for the Cup mode, but that's not what I was talking about. Honestly, that's my fault for bad wording, so I'll try and get that fixed.

If this was a review just for the single player portion of the game, the score would be higher. But when reviewing the game I have to include everything, not just the improved career mode.

I said the visuals were outstanding and I stated it was the best looking NASCAR game to date.

As for the commentary, I know it's difficult to add that stuff in, I even said this: "it's not something that makes the career mode any less fun to play."

Also, the score I gave it was due to the way OS handles review scores, which can be found here: http://bit.ly/SKqH7H

If Eutechnyx keeps going with the license, I know they can make an extremely polished NASCAR game, but when finishing up this review, Inside Line is not that game.
 
# 9 MMChrisS @ 12/04/12 02:37 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisceralBishop
The sentence you quoted was me referring to the career mode. I found no way to use my favorite driver (Jeff Gordon) in that mode. Yes, you can use them in the season mode or Chase for the Cup mode, but that's not what I was talking about. Honestly, that's my fault for bad wording, so I'll try and get that fixed.

If this was a review just for the single player portion of the game, the score would be higher. But when reviewing the game I have to include everything, not just the improved career mode.

I said the visuals were outstanding and I stated it was the best looking NASCAR game to date.

As for the commentary, I know it's difficult to add that stuff in, I even said this: "it's not something that makes the career mode any less fun to play."

Also, the score I gave it was due to the way OS handles review scores, which can be found here: http://bit.ly/SKqH7H

If Eutechnyx keeps going with the license, I know they can make an extremely polished NASCAR game, but when finishing up this review, Inside Line is not that game.
To follow on the score point -- most people consider a 7 or 7.5 to be average for a game. In our full 10 point scale, a 5.0 is probably more equivalent to what many are used to being a 7.
 
# 10 Lieutenant Dan @ 12/04/12 03:01 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by MMChrisS
To follow on the score point -- most people consider a 7 or 7.5 to be average for a game. In our full 10 point scale, a 5.0 is probably more equivalent to what many are used to being a 7.
I getcha, Chris and VBishop, and everyone has their own opinion. VBishop felt 5.5 fit.

Taken from the OS scoring linked above:

5.0 - 5.5 (Average) -- This is the quintessential average game. There are good spots, there are bad spots. You might love this game, then you might hate it. In the end, you'll just feel like it could have been so much more. Rent these for sure if you are a fan, and you might even buy the game if you can overlook the many flaws.

6.0 - 6.5 (Above Average) -- These games are definitely above average, but definitely not good yet. There are still some big flaws that need tuning, but overall these games can be quite fun for fans of the sport.

7.0 - 7.5 (Good) -- These games are pretty good, and while having several notable flaws, they generally play well and are quite fun. They definitely are not great yet, but with a few fixes they could get there. These are solid buys, especially if you like the sport.

For me, I think if I were writing this up for OS, I'd go 6.5 based on this scale and the descriptions. Fun but still some big flaws that need tuning.


I do agree with VBishop on one point on releasing games as complete. Eutechnyx took a pretty good amount of time on this one and it should have come out of the chute better than it did from a MP point of view. I question whether their testing methods for online play are sufficient, or whether they just have that much of an issue coding online multiplayer.

Now, this next cycle they are taking basically two years to release the next NASCAR game. If the pin hasn't popped when that one comes out of the oven, I won't be kind.
 
# 11 jaa1980 @ 12/04/12 04:13 PM
I would give it a 6.5 currently, if patch fixes key issues it could easily move up to a 8.0+
 
# 12 Kentucky_Wildcat23 @ 12/04/12 05:25 PM
The day that they incorporate the Nationwide and Truck series I will buy their game. Last years dissapointed me too much for me to buy this one. EA had a good game in NASCAR 07 and if the Inside Line team can get back to that kind of career mode they will be able to pull in a lot of us die hard fans. Until then I will continue to play NASCAR 07 on my PS2.
 
# 13 Stormyhog @ 12/05/12 12:07 AM
I really had no issue with what was said in the review just the score doesn't really reflect the positives of the game more the negatives which is mainly the multiplayer. That's what I like about OS we can have friendly debates no matter who's right or wrong. Always enjoy the articles that are written.
 
# 14 RunN1st @ 12/05/12 12:23 AM
I can only imagine the possibilities if this game were on PC and made modable!
 
# 15 ps3veron @ 12/05/12 02:46 AM
Funny enough I played this on a lowly 1MB connection and multiplayer didn't seem to be an issue (I was able to get into lobbies and even won a few tracks).

What does bother me is the multiplayer setup (you are put into lobbies where people are already on their 5th lap and there's no option to even view the racer rather just sit and wait for laps on end).

Shame really, 2012 and we had better Nascar games last generation.
 
# 16 JMD @ 12/05/12 07:01 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by RUFFNREADY
This is a good game; and the review gives this game no justice. yes, the MP is terrible; but the devs are working on a patch that could hopefully fix those problems. As for the cpu/AI being overly aggressive is an understatement. lol
checkout what i mean:

And i don't drive on easy!
cheers
No offense here but:

I see nothing in that video that shows the A.I. being overly aggressive. There were two wrecks, both were your fault. The first you came down into the A.I.'s line and hit his front with your rear quarter panel, hence you spun out, just as you would in real life. The second looked to be an attempt at a bump draft but you hit the A.I. to hard and only hit the right side of the rear bumper, causing him to spin out. User error both times.

Also I'd recommend trying a different view, you seem to be a bit squirrely with the car at times. I can't drive at all while looking at the car. I use the in car views or the hood view, and have great results racing close with the A.I. with no accidents. I find the A.I. in this game to be some of the best I've played against in years.
 
# 17 Alear55 @ 06/12/13 01:28 AM
Anybody know the last NASCAR game where you can race for the cup series in multiplayer mode???
 
# 18 BurghFan @ 06/22/13 01:47 PM
I've experienced a glitch 2 times now that is rather annoying. The situation is I'm running on the lead lap and on the last lap but for some reason I'm unable to finish the race (damage visual only, fuel/tires x2, flags off). First time was at Dover, was out of gas but wanted to coast to the line rather then go into the pits but ended up crashing into some wrecked cars and failed to finish. Second time was at Sonoma when my car hit something (don't really know what), flew into the air, flipped, and landed on its side so I couldn't continue. Both times instead of giving me credit for finishing as the 1st car 1 lap down, it relegated me to a 43rd place finish behind cars that were multiple laps down.
 
# 19 BurghFan @ 10/18/13 08:24 PM
OK, something really weird just happened (and is still happening as I type this). Running career mode, fall race at Talladega, damange visual only, flags off, fuel/tires x2. Was running near the front around lap 4 when I came across Jimmie Johnson and decided to intentionally wreck him as we were coming out of turn 4. Well, when I hit him my camera view spontaneously changed from chase to in car (that part always happens when I play racing games for some reason) and I lost control and cause a huge wreck. As I regained control I ended up racing diagonally across the very top of the pit entrance and back out into the front stretch grass where I spun again. The audio from my crew chief saying "Ok lets do 4 tires" played as I crossed the top of the pits. As I attempted to regain the control I noticed that the top right portion of my HUD where it normally tells my position was missing an that my fuel laps left indicator had changed to 2 dashed lines as if I had just pitted. Next I realized that I was even controlling my car, the computer was driving it for me and has been for the last 30 laps (38 lap race). My car never pitted even though I would've had to pit on lap 19 and never ran out of gas. And it finally just ended with me winning easily.

It would seem I'm the only one who still cares about this game though so . . .
 

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