Eutechnyx Limited has debuted NASCAR: Redline, the very first NASCAR game to hit the iOS platform. But is it more racing simulator than an actual racing game? Find out if it keeps us turning left or if it just left us turning away from it.
You should know from the get-go that NASCAR: Redline is not a traditional racing game. In fact, it has more in common with sports management games. Once you're set up with a sponsor and name your racer, you're introduced to your crew chief, Ray Evernham. If you're a race fan, then this might mean something to you. As a complete neophyte to the world of NASCAR, I shrugged and said, "Cool."
The first thing you do is tune your car to determine in which position you'll start the race. You'll be able to rev up to a predetermined speed once the race starts, which is one of the only times you'll really get to control the car. Well, I say "control the car," but this is really just a glorified mini-game section. Once the race is underway, you're taken to a screen with many management tools.
The management screen gives the options to look at the grid, pitting, map and tactics tools. The grid is a list of all the racers and their current positions. Pitting lets you check the condition of your car and force you into the pit so that your crew can bring you back up to racing shape. The map shows you the track and where all of the racers are at any given moment. Finally, the tactics screen allows you to control how fast you go, how much fuel you use and how aggressive you'll be on the track.
Depending on the choices that you make, you might pull ahead or lag behind. Pitting will especially ensure that you lag behind, especially if your pit crew hasn't had much training and takes 18 or more seconds to complete repairs. But once you're back in the race, you'll be as good as new and can try to get a better position once more.
One surefire way to pull a bit ahead is to do well during the "highlight" sequences. Every now and then, a highlight moment will be triggered and get you near the action on the track. You'll have press on the pedals to either speed up, slow down or maybe even both, should the situation call for it. A set area on your speedometer will be highlighted in green, which is where you're supposed to hit under the time limit. Successfully completing these sequences usually results in you pulling ahead of some competitors.
After a race, you're given some prize money. You can use this cash to upgrade your vehicle's parts or train your pit crew to perform better. Doing anything to augment your performance takes money and a bit of real-world time, which is a little annoying. Or, if you're in a rush and don't want to keep racing (or at least managing races), to make money, you can buy some of NASCAR: Redline's premium currency and use that instead. I don't recommend doing either.
While I might not be a terribly huge fan of NASCAR, I am a big fan of racing games. For the first NASCAR game on iOS devices, this one sorely disappoints. Now, I realize it could be pretty tough to smash in 42 cars on a track on a tiny device, but something with actual racing would have been greatly appreciated.
With that said, there are probably a few fans of management games who could probably appreciate what NASCAR: Redline has to offer. As for me, I've already lapped it and found bigger and better racing experiences on the App Store.