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Stock car racing. The great buffer zone for non-basketball fans between January & September (when football season starts). There have been many games attempting to simulate the intricacies of racing with the "big boys," but, one developer has consistently turned out the best racing games. Papyrus, a division of Sierra, has hit the virtual jackpot with their NASCAR series. The original NASCAR Racing, with fully licensed drivers lists and tracks (except for Indy & Daytona), became an instant hit. NASCAR Racing 2 was just as successful, taking the original game and adding 3DFX support. Now, in 1999, NASCAR Racing 3 has hit the shelves. This game promises not only to be the greatest NASCAR racing sim ever, it has the potential to become the greatest racing simulation of all time, period.
The graphics, including full 3DFX compatibility, are second to
There have been many improvements over the NASCAR 99 graphics
Skid marks on tracks showing where you or another racer have spun
out, damage marks on the walls from impacts, superb smoke effects from
both accidents and blown engines, an animated starter in the flagstand,
waving appropriate flags, are just some of the many improvements in the
graphics category of this game.
Now, some people have complained that, since Papyrus abandoned
their original plans to base N3 on the Grand Prix Legends engine, that
it detracts from the realism.
Let me assure readers that this is not the case.
Although it is not possible in this model to flip a car after an
accident, the real Winston cars have flaps installed which automatically
deploy after a crash, insuring that the cars will not spin.
So, we just imagine that this game has those flaps already
installed, we just can't see them.
Another great improvement is the ability to select resolution up
to 1024x768(If someone knows that you can take it higher, please, let me
This is a great improvement over the original NASCAR and NASCAR
99 games, which were stuck in 640x480.
Frame rates on my system were excellent in all modes, between
Also, the cars are modeled more accurately than in any previous
Then, there's the sound.
One of the biggest knocks on the NASCAR Racing series was that
its engine sounds didn't quite measure up.
So, in development of this game, Papyrus took recorders to
Richard Petty's Driving School and was allowed to tape one of their cars
on test runs for use in the game.
These cars, incidentally, use the same engines as the real WC
& BGN cars.
This guarantees that the sound will be realistic.
And, the computer-controlled cars use the same engine sounds, so
it's guaranteed to make your teeth rattle.
Controls haven't really changed since the original NASCAR.
You can set up a joystick for your control (my setup), or, if you
have a steering wheel on your system, the game will adapt quite easily
to that as well. The menus are identical to the N99 interface, so
veterans should have no trouble finding their way around.
Newbies will be pleasantly surprised at the ease of movement
through the interface of this game.
One neat new feature is the track descriptions.
Each track, in the opening screen, shows a very attractive photo
of the track, with all the setup options, and then, a description of the
track itself (length of front straights, back straights, angle of bank
in turns, etc).
This info can be a help in designing that winning setup.
One of the great things about the NASCAR series has always been
the ability to tweak your car to your heart's content, and, N3 continues
this tradition excellently.
There is a full pitshop where every little detail of the car,
from gear ratios to "grille tape," which will improve
aerodynamics, can be tweaked through easy-to-use control options.
There is also a complete paintshop where budding team owners can
design their own teams and sponsors.
With the proliferation of user-created "carsets" for N2
& N99, the possibilities for this game are as limitless as the
imaginations of the owners.
As for the actual racing, N3 differs from previous NASCAR games
in several ways.
The CTS (Craftsman Truck Series) was, for some unknown reason,
not included in N3.
This omission has not been explained, but, is a minor absence,
since the (nearly) complete Winston Cup & Busch Grand National
schedules are available to race, including nearly every track on both
One glaring omission from N2 & N99 has been rectified,
N3 owners can now race the famous "BrickYard"!!
Papyrus has secured the rights to reproduce Indianapolis for N3,
and, I must say, the reproduction is very true to the original.
Daytona, however, is still MIA.
There are two separate modes of competition in N3.
The single race mode allows you to race any track, from any
schedule, with any car list.
Want to race the Winston guys at a BGN track?
Want to see if the BGN gang can handle the Brickyard?
It's your pleasure.
The other mode, Championship mode,
offers both Winston and BGN 1999 schedules, as well as a "NASCAR
Championship," including all the tracks.
This promises to make even the most seasoned driver want to come
back for more.
Is N3 everything it was hyped up to be?Just about. The only omission, IMHO, is the decision to scrap the GPL engine and build this game around an updated version of the N2 engine. However, it's an update that does wonders for this franchise. Is this the best NASCAR Racing game ever? Absolutely. In fact, this could very well be the best racing game of all time. Period. In short, I can sum up my feelings about N3 with these words: Buy this game, buy it now!!
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