It’s a good idea: an arcade racer based on NASCAR. And there are other good ideas: hugely exaggerated tracks based on real locations; over-the-top vehicle and driver options; a neat boost system. But that’s all superficial, and what’s underneath is basic, bland, and borderline boring.
The main issue is the handling, which is twitchy with a dash of unpredictable oversteer. There are about two corners in the game that benefit from braking, and even then you’re just as well hitting the wall on the exit and boosting away. That might be fine if there was any hint of depth, but there’s nothing. Those different vehicles? All the same. Any sort of drift system? Nope. Any need for any skill at all? Oh my no.
All the game’s eggs have been put in the boost basket – and on paper it’s a nice looking basket. You have a boost meter which you can refill by driving through the pit lane, but that’s speed-limited, so you have a tactical toss-up at the end of every lap. On paper. In reality, there’s no point in using the pit lane at all, because you can get all the boost you need on track.
Those on-track boosts come in a few varieties – longer and shorter, faster and slower, and one type of pad refills a bit of your boost meter. On the best tracks, there’s a satisfaction in hitting the optimum sequence of boosts – but in the same way that it’s satisfying to successfully remember a really long number.
That’s partly because the tracks are so unremarkable. They’re massively overblown, but all in the same rollercoaster way. A couple of them do look genuinely unique, but when you throw in the almost complete lack of braking and the basic handling, they all feel the same. It doesn’t help that there’s only one camera angle, that’s too low and close to give you a decent view of the track half the time.
Your competitors don’t make it any more interesting. On novice difficulty, the elastic-banding is so strong that you just need to have some boost for the final lap and overtake anyone you need to on the final stretch. This mostly works on elite difficulty too, other than the odd race when most of the pack just blasts away from you.
Somewhere along the line, NASCAR Arcade Rush has suffered a complete lack of ambition. What there is, works well enough. It’s functional, it looks fine, and it’s not particularly buggy. But it is so basic, so bland – and yes, boring. Which is the last thing an arcade racer should be.
Team6’s NASCAR Rush Arcade is out now on all formats. Published by GameMill.