NASCAR 08 Reviewed — Badly

NASCAR 08

EA’s trend when new consoles roll around tends to be get a stripped down, barely passable release out the door the first year, then follow it up with a proper installation the next. However, with NASCAR 08, it seems they’ve missed that target, according to GameSpot’s review delivering a fairly mediocre entry to the aged franchise:

NASCAR 08’s box touts the fact that EA’s NASCAR series is the top-selling NASCAR franchise, but nowhere on the packaging does it tell you that it’s the top-selling franchise because it’s the only NASCAR franchise. However, the fact that there’s no competition is made apparent as soon as you play. There have been a few improvements to how the game plays and you can now drive the Car of Tomorrow, but inexplicably, there’s less to do in NASCAR 08 than there was in NASCAR 07. It’s still a competent racing game, but you can’t shake the feeling that NASCAR 08 would have been a whole lot better if there had been a competing NASCAR game out there.

EA Taking Older Racers Offline

Burnout Dominator on PS2

Eurogamer has news of a list of games from EA’s extensive stable that are about to be lead out to pasture. These are games that, thanks to their age (all of three years old in some cases!), are having their online support disabled. Among the list are a number of racers, with NASCAR 06 Total Team Control for the PS2 and Xbox being killed off on September 1, then the following games getting dropped in November:

  • Burnout Revenge for Xbox and PS2
  • Need for Speed Underground for PS2
  • Need for Speed Underground 2 for PC and PS2
  • Need for Speed Most Wanted for PSP and Xbox

Some of these seem to be dying off a bit … prematurely, but I suppose that’s just incentive to upgrade to the newer releases.

Sega Rally Premier Class Cars Displayed

Sega Rally Revo

IGN has managed to get the Lead Car Artist for Sega Rally Revo, Keith Burden, to personally write up the pre-release tease posts for the game; where they gradually reveal more and more cars to (hopefully) get you more and more excited about the game’s release this September (or October, depending on where you’re reading this from). He starts at the top with what they’re calling the “Premier” class of cars, starting with, what else, the Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Evo:

The first class and possibly one of the most important is the Premier Class cars. These consist of some top flight Rally fare; the Subaru Impreza WRX STi, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, Ford Focus RS, Peugeot 206 WRC, Škoda Fabia, and Citroën Xsara Rallycross car.

The Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Evolution IX are iconic for any kind of Rally game, they are well known, cool, and possibly two of the most perfect high performance cars in the world (lots of bhp, big spoilers and enough room for the family – what more do you need?).

Xbox Live Multiplayer Going Free?

CVG is reporting of an interview between Microsoft’s Shane Kim and 1UP.com in which the topic of Xbox Live hitting the PC came up. Xbox Live has, of course, been one of the driving factors in the online success of the Xbox platform. However, it’s always been chided for requiring gamers to pay around $50 a year to get their multiplayer on. On the PC, of course, it’s expected that anything short of an MMO will be free to play online, something that Shane Kim is realistic about, saying that they’d like to be able to offer online gaming for free through Live on the PC.

That raises one big question: what about Xbox players who’ve been paying for all these years? It’s somewhat unlikely to expect that MS would give something away for free on the PC yet expect Xbox gamers to pay for it. That said, console gamers for years have had to pay premiums on games that have been at least $10 cheaper on the PC. So, could free online play be coming to the Xbox soon, with other “incentives” coming in to keep Gold Xbox Live members paying? Or, will multiplayer still come with a fee on the Xbox and the internets will run rampant with gamers’ mild annoyance? Time will tell…

X-Play Votes FlatOut 2 Best Racer

FlatOut 2

It’s awards season, and hot on the heels of Spike TV calling Burnout Revenge best driving game of 2006 and Edge Media calling Test Drive Unlimited best online experience, G4TV’s X-Play is calling FlatOut 2 the best racing game. Stacked up against the competition it seems like perhaps an odd choice, but that’s why there’s more than one set of videogame awards…and why at this point none of them really matter.

A Cheap Game Pad for Racers

The Kontrol Freak

Over the years there have been a lot of attempts to build game pads that are suitable for racers. From Namco’s classic neGcon and JogCon to, more recently, Thrustmaster’s Run ‘N Drive and Fanatec’s Speedster. All have helped, but none have been quite perfect, none have been cheap, and none have been quite as simple as the latest attempt at the same: the Kontrol Freek U-150, pictured above.

It may look like a standard Xbox 360 controller, and that’s because it is. The difference is of course the little plastic doo-dad stick on the left analog stick which enables more precision in horizontal motions. In their recent test drive of the $9.95 (for two!) add-on, IGN was rather impressed:

The curving side rails aren’t at all about preventing your thumb from sliding off the stick, rather, they function to provide extra leverage on the stick that makes it easy to tilt the stick just a little bit when just a little is all that’s required. Transitioning from the analog stick’s neutral point to 10 and 20% input was much easier than without the KontrolFreek, and we found that weaving through traffic in both games was much easier due to the lack of heavy counter-correction after each swerve.

The rubber add-on works for both the Xbox and Xbox 360. It’s not available for purchase yet, but you can pre-order one directly through the Kontrol Freek website. Again, for $9.95, it’s worth checking out.

Thanks to PhatheadWRX for the heads up

Crusty Tats

Crusty Tat's

When we reviewed Crusty Demons back in July we found it to be unsurprisingly mediocre. However, that hasn’t stopped the PR machine from rolling on using the most potent attention grabber in the world: T&A. At the game’s site you can make yourself a “custom” tattoo and place it on one of four locations on the body of some eastern European redhead who probably agreed to pose for the pics in exchange for a six-pack of cheap beer, a carton of cigs, and a pair of stonewashed jeans. If you’d like your own goofy tattoo (and a free dose of shame) you can head over to the Crusty Demons Tattoo Parlor.

Feel free to post your similarly tacky creations here.

Xbox Live Hit 4 Million Mark

Yes, four million unique accounts have signed on to Xbox Live in some fashion or another, likely including all Silver accounts plus all those activated free 30 day trial cards that always fall on the floor when you’re trying to get the game disc out of its case for the first time. Even counting all those non-paying accounts, four million is an impressive number and quite a solid head-start for the next gen online multiplayer wars. For more details on this you can check out the full story at Eurogamer.

Race With the King

The King

The Burger King King, that is. The pseudo-royal fast food chain will be releasing a set of Happy…errrr…Value Meals this holiday season featuring The King, Subservient Chicken, and other so-called “Burger King icons.” There will be a series of games, one of which will be minibike racing, another bumper cars. This not-so-subtle advertising will play on both the Xbox and Xbox 360 and, believe it or not, won’t be free. Expect to drop $3.99 on top of your Value Meal cost to get your (now greasy) hands on this.

Full Story and Screens at Team Xbox