NASCAR 06: Total
As is true with many EA SPORTS titles, due to their exclusive
license, NASCAR 06 doesn’t have to contend with other
NASCAR games. Exclusive licenses aren’t acquired for
the benefit of consumers, and games released under these licenses
can end up making little or no progress from its predecessors.
Let’s take a look at the new features offered in Total
Team Control and see if EA has abused its exclusive rights
to NASCAR games.
During your first load, you, as Jeff Gordon, are immediately
thrown into the midst of the Pepsi 400 trying to hold your
lead after your teammate has crashed. This sequence is your
introduction to car swapping, a new capability in Total Team
Control. Car swapping is a part of a bigger feature which
is the only significant in-game addition to NASCAR 06. This
feature is Interactive Crew Chief Control. This feature allows
racers to take full control of their team and use strategy
to achieve the best possible team finish.
Interactive Crew Control operates out of the bottom-right
corner of your screen. You have the option of selecting a
driver to issue a command to and are then presented with a
listing of commands to give. You can tell your teammates to
prevent cars from passing, allow you to pass, share drafts,
and even pit together. Other commands include instructing
your teammates to move aside in order to allow you to pass,
hold their position, or follow your car. Truth be told, the
eighth command really isn’t a command at all.
The car swap “command” involves switching cars
with a teammate. By doing this, you are able to bring slower
cars to the front of the pack and set up blocks to assure
a first place finish. This works best in longer races, where
you actually have time to set your cars in the desired locations.
I think this was one of the better additions to the game,
as it really brings out the teamwork and strategy of NASCAR.
All of the commands can either be given through your controller
or your headset. Total Team Control offers voice recognition
to give commands, change options, change view settings, and
even obtain information. In theory, this is a great addition
to the Interactive Crew Control feature. Unfortunately, it
doesn’t always pick up on your voice. You will find
that the voice recognition software will have problems with
certain words and you will end up saying things such as “HUD
off” into your headset for double the amount of time
it takes to manually change it with your controller. I like
the idea and there aren’t problems for many of the commands,
but sometimes the error in voice recognition will cause something
completely undesirable to happen.
Besides what is mentioned above, the in-game mechanics are
basically the same. The only improvement to AI is the new
ally and rival system. This allows you to make friends or
enemies on the track based upon your driving etiquette. The
drivers you ram into will take an exaggerated amount of runs
at your car and prevent you from sharing draft. Your allies,
on the other hand, will tend to act as friendlier opponents.
That is it for in-game changes. NASCAR 06 is the same exact
game as Race for the Cup, from an in-race perspective, aside
from the items mentioned above. The main mode of play this
year, Fight to the Top, has changed as a result of the more
team-oriented gameplay. Fight to the Top involves joining
a team to gain revenue. Eventually you will earn enough to
purchase your own team to build your individual and team prestige.
Team prestige is determined by the quality of your team in
both racing and business aspects. You are able to invest in
three different aspects: Cars, Crews, and Administration.
As the owner of a team, you can control a team of racing superstars,
but be cautious and select your drivers carefully. Despite
the talent of your racers, if your team doesn’t have
a good chemistry rating, you won’t be very successful
as a team.
One thing I did like about the main single-player mode of
play was the fact that the settings were very customizable.
Diehard NASCAR fans can opt to participate in races that are
25% of the real races, and casual gamers can choose to compete
in races that can be as short as 4% of the real thing. You
can adjust the car damage to only affect the game from a visual
standpoint. You also have the option to toggle things such
as unlimited gas and tire wear. I think this was a smart move
by EA to present an enjoyable game to both the casual and
Another aspect of the game that could be appealing to gamers
without Xbox Live is multiplayer through Play Now. Here gamers
can race head to head for bragging rights on a single console.
This will always provide a bit of fun. Who doesn’t like
beating a buddy in a neck-and-neck race?
This being said, Fight to the Top is, on the grand scheme
of things, too shallow to be considered a decent step forward
for the franchise. It adds some interesting new aspects, but
doesn’t really take them anywhere. The only reason to
improve your prestige is for the sake of improving your prestige.
I’d like to see some more depth added to this mode of
play with little extras and perks to keep your prestige up.
They could have included visual representations of a successful
career in the form of cut-scenes, improved garages, and more
of the like. EA SPORTS has managed this in other games, but
they left it out of NASCAR 06.