Game Freebies: NASCAR Racing 4

Introduction: Since jkOnTheRun pointed it out, I’ve been having a bit of a rummage through the freebes on offer at the Windows Marketplace, including quite a few free games. They’re mostly demo versions, with just the first few levels, or racing games with just one type of car and track, but they’re generally small enough to download (takes a while on dial-up, but still do-able), and if you’re not really into gaming much (I’m not), the first few levels might be enough for you. Many of the games are quite old, but if you don’t have the latest PC specc’d up for gaming, they might be as much as you can run anyway.

What Is It?

A car racing game, rather obviously. Racing around American NASCAR circuits. It’s a trial version, with a few limits. Two tracks, and a choice of cars, but, all the cars seem to be the same, and you can’t actually race, just practice driving around the track on your own. OK, make that quite a lot of limits. Certainly doesn’t give you much feel for what the game will be like. Oh, and two different tracks? For NASCAR? They’re all just big ovals. Sorry, but I don’t think anyone in Europe quite understands the appeal of NASCAR.

Actually, I’m probably less impressed by this one than I should be, because I’m so embarassingly bad at it. All I could do was spin donuts, and crash into walls. I spent a while playing at it, and never made it around a complete lap at all. I think part of the problem is that it’s trying quite hard to act like a real NASCAR racer, and they’re not built to be easy to drive. The car seemed to be balanced specifically for going round in circles, and it’s very difficult to go in a straight line.

The other thing that put me off is that I had to spend a long time trying to get the keys to work at all. It kept insisting that I hadn’t assigned any keys to the steering controls, but wouldn’t let me assign them. In the end, I discovered that I could assign keys, but only keys on the numeric keypad. This is a tablet PC. I don’t have a numeric keypad. I assigned keys on the numeric keypad, and used the numpad lock to turn part of the keyboard into a numeric keypad, just so I could try going around in a circle, but it wasn’t much good. Maybe it works a lot better with a steering wheel attachment or a joystick, but I certainly couldn’t control it with the keyboard, and mouse didn’t seem to be an option.

Worth downloading?

If you have a steering wheel attachment, it might be. If you do have one, though, you probably already have some decent racing games. If you don’t have one, I wouldn’t bother.

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