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OS Scores Explained NASCAR '14 Overview (PS3)
Pros
Improved handling, Deeper career mode, Online leagues
Cons
Still no Nationwide or truck series, AI drivers still need work.
Bottom Line
Although there is still room for improvement, NASCAR 14 is a lot of fun to play, and very good step in the right direction.
7.5
out of 10
NASCAR '14 REVIEW

NASCAR '14 Review (PS3)

 
There are very few fans more passionate about their sport than those embedded in NASCAR, and that passion is just as evident when it comes to the digital sport also. Ask any driver or fan and they will spends hours talking about how important the little details are to the sport, and how those details are what separate the perennial pole sitters, and the drivers fighting just to start in the top 35 each week.

Four years ago, the European developer Eutechnyx took on the monumental task of trying to replicate the intricate details of the beloved American sport on consoles, and now PC. Very few NASCAR titles have come close to doing that, and now we find out if the developers over at Eutechnyx were able to achieve just that, with the release of NASCAR ’14.
 
 
Gameplay
 
It is no secret that while the driving model of Eutechnyx’ NASCAR series has always been pretty solid, the rest of game lacked in certain areas that held it back from being a more than just a fun title that lacked longevity. According to the developers, they spent a lot of their time tweaking quite a bit on the game, and for the most part it really shows.

One of the biggest issues with previous versions of the Eutechnyx NASCAR series was simply inconsistent AI drivers. Either they were too fast, too slow, drove in a single line without attempting to actually race, as opposed to just driving, and often would have an unfair advantage in the tire wear department.

In our experiences with NASCAR ’14, that has changed quite a bit. In our time with the game we have noticed aggressive drivers, who race smart, understand the human component, and feel the need to pit every so often. The development team has also put in a lot of time working on the entry and exit points of pit road for the AI, and it is a definite improvement over the previous attempts. As we mentioned before, there are still some minor quirks with the AI, but the days of the AI slowing down to 150 mph on a straightaway or in a corner have diminished drastically.

It’s a huge plus the AI has been improved, and driving model is better than ever, but what about the damage model and collisions? This is an area we are somewhat disappointed to report still needs some work. While the damage looks nice at times, it often doesn’t properly represent the amount of damage that should have been inflicted onto one’s stock-car. Often we found ourselves with limited to no damage after a huge pile up at certain tracks. Instead of a DNF or being forced to drive a crippled stock-car for the rest of the way, we often found with a simple pit stop, we were back at full strength. In some cases we found no need to pit at all, and were still extremely competitive which is never a good thing.

The collision system is another area that will need some more work before the release of NASCAR 2015 hits retail shelves in February 2015. While there are massive pile ups at the correct time, they tend to look like bumper cars bouncing off of each other, as opposed to 3500lb stock cars ripping into each other. Of course there are times in real life where cars do bump off each other, but it typically doesn’t happen in the way that the game represents it.

Another huge improvement for the game is the ability to change difficulty levels in increments of 5 percent this year. In previous NASCAR titles it was the standard Rookie, Pro, or Champion; the difference in difficulty between Pro and Champion last year was extreme. Now the game offers the user a chance to tweak and fine tune the AI at each track to a very specific difficulty to match what their expectations are. Honestly, this addition cannot be overstated as to how important it is to the overall fun factor of the game.

The overall gameplay has changed for the positive, and the work the developers have put into this year’s title has made a significant impact on the quality of NASCAR ’14.
 
 
Career Mode
 
While it remains at the core the same mode that was in the 2013 version, there have been tweaks and upgrades to what was there. You start off turning a few laps at Indianapolis to determine what difficulty settings would best suit you, and also if the “owner” wants to hire you. Once hired, you start off with a basic non-sponsored stock car, limited funds and a skeleton crew. As you earn money through each race you will be prompted to upgrade your Research and Development crew, and your vehicle. Since you will be running slower than most of the other cars that you are sharing the track with, it is vitally important that you use good pit strategy and stay with the pack. If one is racing at a restrictor plate track and loses the pack and draft, it is damn-near impossible to get back into the mix of things without a caution and or lucky-dog award.

I found it a lot of fun doing whatever I could to be at least a little successful each weekend, and although I couldn’t hang the Jimmy Johnsons and Tony Stewarts of the world, with smart racing and good strategy I was able to find myself often in the middle to front end of the pack, depending on the track of course.

The presentation of your career mode is a somewhat lacking, but it is there, and at times can be somewhat immersive. This is another area that if fully fleshed out next year, has the potential to just be a great mode. We found ourselves truly enjoying the career mode experience, and with a few additions, career mode could become something very special.
 
 
Online
 
This is the year that the developers have finally included true online leagues, something that fans have been wanting for the last few years. Once you enter online play, you then choose online leagues, plug in your options, and send out your invites. The league is very customizable, including the number of members, the amount of races, locations, and night or day (assuming that track has a real night race option).

While the inclusion of a league option is a huge step forward, it really means very little unless the whole online code has been rewritten or reworked. Over the last few years the game has been very difficult to play consistently online due to a multitude of issues, and we are happy to say in our testing of NASCAR ’14, the online portion has given us minimal problems. The dreaded “draft bubble” was non-existent, which was a huge relief, and we experienced zero lag or input delay. We were able to consistently and confidently pull up behind an opponent nose to tail and bump or be bumped with a high level of smoothness most of the time.

The only issue we experienced online was the lack of opponents. It took us multiple attempts to find rooms, which was somewhat expected during the day of release, but we experienced the same void of existence during the evening also. Hopefully as word spreads about the quality of this title, that will start to change.

 
Final Thoughts
 
Even though the game is still dealing with some of the same issues that has held it back in the past, any NASCAR fan should really put this in their game rotation. Yes, the AI drivers still make some questionable decisions and maneuvers at times, the collisions and damage still need to be reworked, and the game still lacks the full NASCAR experience. But the overall improvements are tangible, and the game is just flat out fun to race. With online leagues and a deeper career mode, there is plenty here to keep someone coming back for more.

Learning Curve – The new handling mechanics will take a bit to get used to, even if you have played a previous version. Still the game is very accessible for fans of all skill levels.

Visuals – The graphics are quite nice, including both the tracks and cars.

Sounds – While it would be nice to have deeper dialogue from the announcing crew, the cars sound pretty darn good, and the crew chief and spotter sound just as nice.

Controls – Eutechnyx has made the game very accessible with use of a controller or wheel, and we found we were able to be competitive using either one.

Online – The inclusion of online leagues, and the better net-coding makes online racing with NASCAR ’14 an actual strength of the game.

Score - 7.5 (Good)

NASCAR '14 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 Rules @ 02/20/14 04:56 PM
Great review, thank you!
 
# 2 TCrouch @ 02/20/14 04:59 PM
Good read, Bob.

I think I struggle a bit more with some of the AI behavior than you did, and I'm still not quite sure their tire wear is on par with the user's, but it's definitely better than last year's edition from what I've seen so far.
 
# 3 porkys8077 @ 02/20/14 08:12 PM
Nice review i'm going to pick this up on the weekend.
 
# 4 RunN1st @ 02/20/14 11:28 PM
Online option: I would like to see them add the ability to setup an online room and allow people to join during practice. Otherwise, this mode will suffer from empty rooms.
 
# 5 DKHardee @ 02/21/14 08:56 AM
I took this game back to GameStop about 4 hours after I bought it. I called them and said "How much can I get for a NASCAR '14 trade in, the games terrible?" and the guy said "I didn't know it was even out, I don't see a price for it. Just come in and we'll work something out."

When I got there he said he felt bad for me and gave me a full refund, lol.

In the end I over reacted and think I should have kept it. It was a solid game when playing with a controller. My main gripe was that the game doesn't go well with a racing wheel. I prefer to use my G27 racing wheel for racing games. This game has a bug to where you can't use the wheel in career mode because it makes you select your paint scheme with a controller as you enter the race weekend, then you can't go back to the wheel for the race.
 
# 6 Lieutenant Dan @ 02/21/14 11:52 AM
Thanks Bob...great job on the review.
 
# 7 bluengold34_OS @ 02/21/14 11:59 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lieutenant Dan
Thanks Bob...great job on the review.
Appreciate it Dan -
 
# 8 bigdoc85 @ 02/21/14 12:55 PM
Thanks, Bob. You mentioned NASCAR 15 -- is that a definite for next year? Would presume they will make the jump to next gen?
 
# 9 bluengold34_OS @ 02/21/14 12:59 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdoc85
Thanks, Bob. You mentioned NASCAR 15 -- is that a definite for next year? Would presume they will make the jump to next gen?
No problem. While they would never confirm a title for next year at this early stage, the overall vibe I got is that there will be one. In regards to Next Gen - I truly have no idea, and I am not sure if they do either. As a smaller development company they really have to make sure the next gen penetration rate is at a level that would dictate the need to make it.

My gut says we will see it on the PS4 and One next year, but trust me when I say that that feeling is no better than what you might feel.
 
# 10 Lauri24 @ 02/22/14 10:24 PM
We are playing NASCAR 14 and have earned sponsors. How do we put the sponsors on the car? Thank you.
 
# 11 bluengold34_OS @ 02/23/14 12:06 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lauri24
We are playing NASCAR 14 and have earned sponsors. How do we put the sponsors on the car? Thank you.

If you try to start a race without a sponsor it will prompt you to add one - it will take you into the paint booth where if you go to decals - your sponsor decal will be there to adhere to the car
 
# 12 Aggies7 @ 02/23/14 11:00 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdoc85
Thanks, Bob. You mentioned NASCAR 15 -- is that a definite for next year? Would presume they will make the jump to next gen?

I know Bob definitely knows better than I do. But it's sounds like they didn't do it this year because of numbers. Not enough PS4's sold to warrant the extra cost of making a next gen game. I maybe wrong but that is the way I understood it.
 
# 13 AiDub @ 02/24/14 04:57 PM
While I like some of the features this game has, I still can't justify buying any Nascar game that isn't made by Papyrus and since they haven't been around in years, I'll be sticking with Nascar Racing 2003. IMO it's the best Nascar game every made and with the additions of the modding community, it still remains current with the GEN6 mods and updated tracks. Yes, it lacks the graphics that this game has but if you're looking for a great overall Nascar Sim, NR2k3 is still the king!
 
# 14 Andyn86 @ 02/26/14 10:35 AM
So I'm really new to the racing games especially NASCAR. I'm playing NASCAR14 right now and my question is how do you set up the car in tuning to make it go faster? I have no idea what I'm doing and any advice would be greatly appreciated thanks guys. Btw I'm currently on Las Vegas so I'm trying to set up for that but I want to know what to do so I can make adjustments of future tracks and know what I'm doing
 
# 15 Ban_Irl @ 03/01/14 12:57 PM
Wow! Another bummer with using a wheel. Last Nascar-ITL allowed you to race but you had to have a controller to
view replays. I enjoy replays and so that was killer and now this sounded great (NASCAR 14) until I read the bug with a wheel in career mode which is what I wish to play. I use a wheel for all my racing games so playing with a controller won't happen. Oh well, maybe a fix later, but for now another bummer and a lost purchase.
 
# 16 I xAnthonyx I @ 03/25/14 02:01 PM
nascar 14 is so easy
 
# 17 pittbill @ 06/04/14 06:36 AM
You can use G 27 wheel for career mode in nascar.
All you have to do is enter with your controller, do all your setups and paint schemes, enter the race, when yousee your car ready to go, pause, push the ps button on your controller, change your controller settings to controller 2 and exit back into game Hit the gas and enjoy the race with your wheel. Make sure its plugged into slot 2.
 

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