Review: Nascar Unleashed for the PS3, Stresses Fun Not Physics

Nascar Unleashed Video Game

Nascar Unleashed for PS3

I am a 40 something year old Dad, which should mean I know my way around a car and spend my weekends watching Nascar.   Probably due to a genetic mutation caused by eating excessive amounts of Pop Rocks as a kid, I know very little about car mechanics and still believe Lightning McQueen is the greatest Nascar driver to ever live.   Given this, you may be wondering, am I really qualified to review the new Nascar Unleashed video game from Activision?

Nascar Unleashed – Unleash Your Physics and Have Some Fun

While I am no car or Nascar expert, I am an expert in having fun – which it turns out is the only qualification you need to review Nascar Unleashed.   The game, which we reviewed on the PlayStation 3 (PS3), is like a Nascar dream world.  They have the actual cars and top drivers from Nascar, but the cars are not limited by real world physics and crazy jumps, bumps and moves are encouraged.   They have real tracks from Nascar, but you can bust through a wall and suddenly be traveling on a dream like course, seeing familiar tracks in a completely unfamiliar way.  In case you were wondering, yes I was completely sober while reviewing this game.

The Basics of Nascar Unleashed

Let’s back up a little and go over exactly what Nascar Unleashed has to offer:

Racers will break free from the ovals as they explode onto the pavements, beaches and off-road areas of some of the most beloved NASCAR® sanctioned race tracks. The thrill in re-discovering familiar tracks with a new twist gives NASCAR Unleashed™ a completely unchained stock car experience. See the sights, feel the salty ocean breeze and blast past the lofty skyscrapers; it’s a whole new world of NASCAR racing!

Key Features

  • All-Star Pack: Fifteen of NASCAR’s biggest drivers make their appearance in the game! Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and many more!
  • Racetrack Déjà Vu: Players will race on real life NASCAR sanctioned race tracks with a bit of a twist. Players will make their way across familiar parts of the track and burst into brand new areas they wouldn’t expect! Tracks include: Daytona International Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
  • Bumper to Bumper: Bumping and grinding is the name of the game as players will have to fight their way up to pole position. Opponents won’t make it easy though as they’ll be every bit as ruthless as you on their quest to be the best!
  • Race to Victory: The key to winning is the mastery of important NASCAR techniques like drafting and sling-shotting past the opposition. Players are awarded for skillful driving with a “boost” power-up that allows them to pull in front of the competition and go for the checkered flag.
  • Arcade Action: Racing is wild, fast and crazy as players drift around corners and hit massive jumps while trying to avoid being wrecked.
  • Unlockables Unleashed: After winning events, players will be rewarded with fun and goofy upgrades that can be used to customize their cars into something unique and outrageous.

Nascar Unleashed: A Game Non-Racing Fans Might Like More Than Racing Fans

I expect there will be a large divide when it comes to the question – Is Nascar Unleashed a Good Game? People looking for a hard core, real physics, ultra-realistic racing simulator will clearly be disappointed.  The lack of the ability to race against friends online will be seen as a major limitation for hardcore racers.  In addition, while the cars and scenery look realistic, the lack of real world physics means this is not the game to get if you want a traditional racing simulator.

On the other hand, more casual gamers who are looking to have a blast playing a car game that has a very low learning curve will love Nascar: Unleashed.   This is not your standard race around the track as fast as you can game.  You get points for bumping, crashing and sling-shotting past opponents.  During the race Challenges pop up like “Create a New Rival”.  What is a rival?  Someone you bash around so much he has it in for you whenever he sees you.   Gather points, unlock cars, courses and more.  Nascar Unleashed clearly has its sights set on a new generation who want more action than traditional racing simulators provide.

Nascar Unleashed Is Perfect For Video Game Challenged Dads

In our article on video game reviews for parents, we talk about how we try to find games that non-gamers will enjoy.  Games you can pick up quick, without studying a manual, have some fun with your kids for 15 minutes and move on.  Nascar Unleashed is a perfect example of this type of game.

The controls are easy and the first race has a tutorial that shows you everything you need to know.  There is a two player split-screen mode so you can play with or against your kids – which is super fun!   While you do need to make a pit stop if you crash too much, you can basically just drive around, hit people, have fun and let physics and reality be damned!

Battle of the Nascar Kids Will Donate $30,000 to Charity

We love it when companies use their influence to do good!  Utilizing the NASCAR Unleashed videogame, Activision is taking the storied rivalries and competitive NASCAR spirit off the track and putting them in the hands of NASCAR kids, who will compete against one another for pride and glory. As their dads coach and their moms manage them, these kids will race for first place and the honor of being crowned the first ever “Battle of the NASCAR Kids” champion. The event aims to bring together NASCAR families and ultimately raise money for charities. Post race all the racers will band together to hand a check to The NASCAR Foundation for $25,000 from Activision; while the winning driver will be awarded an additional $5,000 for the charity of their choice.

The “Battle of the NASCAR Kids” competition will take place at 10:30am on Saturday, November 19 at the GameStop videogame truck outside of Gate 2 in the Outer Display Area of Homestead-Miami Speedway, with public gameplay sessions and practice rounds scheduled for November 17-18 at the Championship Drive event in Miami Beach. For more information on the event visit the NASCAR Unleashed Facebook Page.

Conclusion:  Nascar Unleashed Will Unleash Your Desire to Have Fun

Nascar Unleashed is really unlike other car racing games I have played.  On the PS3 it has incredibly strong and realistic graphics – when you first start you expect to play your standard racing simulator.  However as soon as that flag waves, you know this game is different.  With an emphasis on crashing, making rivals, doing stunts and gathering up points to unlocking things – this is NOT your traditional racing game.  What it is, is a great way to have some fun without needing advanced racing skills.   Younger kids will love being able to play a racing game where realistic driving skills are not a necessity and Dad’s will love being able to get their road rage out in a video game.

Final Verdict:
Recommend? Yes!
Best For What Age Range? 7 and up
Best For What Audience? Kids who like arcade style racing games over racing simulators.
Requires Advanced Video Game Skills? No.
This is one of the easiest car racing games to learn how to drive and control.

More Information:

Nascar Unleashed by Activision is Rated E (mild violence) and retails for $39.99.  Available for Playstation 3 (PS3), Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo 3DS

Purchase Nascar Unleashed at Amazon.Com

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