Review: NASCAR 06 Total Team Control (Xbox)
How large is the NASCAR fan base that plays video games? Is it worth it to put in the effort if only a select few are going to pick it up? Obviously the lowest tier on the EA Sports title list, the company is hoping to attract more than just NASCAR fans with its latest title, NASRCAR 06: Total Team Control. And they actually might. The game is not a glorified Project Gotham Racing or Gran Turismo type game, the developers are trying to replicate the NASCAR experience as much as they can, and for the most part they succeed.
Last year’s Chase for the Cup just gave you a glimpse into what it’s like to be a NASCAR driver. This year, NASCAR 06, is giving you the team aspect. The game has some role-playing elements in its Fight for the Top mode, where you can create your driver and work your way up the ranks. This mode is really the meat of the game. The game is very deep with ways you can develop your character throughout the game. You can choose to be a “good guy” or a “bad guy” and both have its advantages, but the good guy will make more money through endorsements. The game also tales you through signing contracts, getting sponsors and drafting new drivers for your team.
And that’s the new thing about this title: team control. Imagine Ghost Recon on the race track. As a driver, you have the ability to send commands to your team like, “drop back” or “hold position” to put your team in a position to not let other racers pass, or bump a competitor into a wall. You can also swap cars and control your teammate’s car during a race. All this happens during your laps which could be around 80, which is how many they race in real life, or you can do just five laps if you don’t have time. The commands can be sent in two ways, either by headset or by controller. Yes, you can actually tell your team mates by voice to “work with me”, and they should pull up next to you. Due some glitches though, the voice commands only work half of the time because even a whisper may turn the music off, or have you pulling over for some gas or repairs you don’t need. It’s a cool addition if it worked all the time. Later on in the game, if you make enough money, you can make your own team to beat out real world teams, or even buy them out as well.
The other modes on the game include some multi-player options, chasing the cup, some other challenges and general racing. The other modes are mostly forgettable, the party is in the Fight for the Top Mode.
The music is kind of annoying, some kind of 80’s or early 90’s guitar rock. There’s no option to create your own soundtrack either so you’re basically stuck rocking out during the race. The voice-acting is pretty bad as well. Cover boys Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson say a few words throughout the game and it’s just cheesy. Granted, they’re not actors by any stretch of the imagination but they could at least try to show some emotion.
The graphics are pretty good and detailed. Each car matches its real life counterpart down to the smallest sponsored sticker. The tracks look like the ones they’re replicating and the effects, screeching tires, engine fires, and smoked out tracks and to the authenticity. You can drive either in first person or third person and the controls are simple to get a hang of, but if you get bumped, you better have your steering skills up to par.
If you’ve never been interested in the NASCAR world, this may change your mind. Total Team Control takes you into the background and what goes on off of the track and when you’re on the track, you realize why this sport has such a huge following. Even though you’re just going in circles for 80 laps, each lap requires some sort of strategy, some sort of plan for you or your team to be in the front of the pack. After playing this, you’ll have a new respect for NASCAR, in real life and in the video game.
Final Score: 80/100