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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that it will take a lot of patience for younger children to overcome some of this game's inadequacies. NASCAR fans might get something out of being able to race as their favorite drivers, but pure racing enthusiasts or those who want to blow off a bit of steam and have some fun should look elsewhere. Parents should also be prepared for the onslaught of in-game advertising -- but if they're familiar with NASCAR then this should come as no surprise. The game has an online component; Common Sense doesn't recommend online play for anyone under the age of 12.
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What's it about?
NASCAR 08's Chase mode is essentially a prolonged tutorial where, as a rookie driver, you complete a repetitive set of challenges to earn licenses and complete contracts for owners to unlock cars for your garage. The more impatient gamer can begin a season straight away as a pre-existing driver such as Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt Jr. The game's settings try to accommodate everyone from casual or novice drivers to veterans who want complete control over every aspect of the car. You can create your own cars with custom paint jobs and decals, set flag and pit rules, and toggle race length to anywhere from 3% (about 8 laps) to 100% (hundreds, depending on the course).
Is it any good?
NASCAR fans are a loyal and passionate bunch, but only the most dedicated fan could forgive the shortcomings of NASCAR 08. Even with driving assists turned on, cars are jerky and difficult to control. In a tight pack, everyone else will be going perfectly straight and you'll be wiggling back and forth trying to hold a line. The drivers also aggressively bump from behind causing heavy damage -- something that would likely get a "real" NASCAR driver black-flagged.
NASCAR 08 simply doesn't feel like a next-generation title. For fans who don't get to go to many (or any) races in person, it's nice to be able to drive on classic tracks like Talladega, Daytona, and Pocono. But it's the little things like teammate interaction, pit road strategy, driver personalities, and race commentary that help to make NASCAR more compelling. None of this comes through in NASCAR 08, which is truly a shame.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.