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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 the game is filled with corporate logos, from the decals on the drivers' cars and suits to the banner ads that are posted around the tracks – just like NASCAR is in real life. The game has an online component where players can race against each other over the Internet, which will expose children to online chat. Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for kids under the age of 12.
What's it about?
Fans who were disappointed by the lacklustre effort of NASCAR 08 will be happy to learn that NASCAR 09 is a significant improvement in terms of offering improved car handling, better quality production values, and several interesting modes. That said, the series still has a ways to go before it can be held in the same regard as flagship EA sports franchises like Madden.
Is it any good?
The decision to make Jeff Gordon not only the game's cover athlete but an in-game narrator and mentor as well goes a long way towards injecting some much-needed soul into the franchise. Also rewarding is the video footage of other popular drivers laying down challenges and giving advice about particular tracks in the Sprint Driver Challenge mode. The other three modes are a career mode where you create a character and fulfill contract and sponsor obligations to earn Reputation points; a Season mode where you can race a full, partial, or custom season as a NASCAR driver of your choice in either the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, or Craftsman Truck series'; and a "Test and Tune" practice mode. Another new addition is the ability to switch between Normal mode for more skilled drivers, and Rookie mode for novices that enables automatic gear shifting and various assists to make the car more stable.
While NASCAR 09's updates inject some personality and excitement back into the franchise, there are still some things that could use further tweaking. For example, the other cars don't always behave as logically or dynamically as real drivers on the racetrack would, and load times are excessive and distracting.
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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.