World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars Review (Xbox 360)
World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars is a game that wants you to like it. It gets plenty about the dirt-track series right but cannot quite overcome some glaring flaws and broaden its appeal to all race fans.
Since the World of Outlaws is a dirt-track series with unique purpose-built cars, the controls will take some getting used to for most players. The controls are the basic gas, brake and steering. Newcomers should take note that sprint-cars’ brakes are set to be very strong on the left-front wheel in order to pitch the car into a slide to get around the corner -- they are not really used to slow down.
The handling model is the strong point of the game. Getting into a nice groove during a race is satisfying. Negotiating a corner three or four wide is nerve racking and get the adrenaline pumping. The game does its best to capture what it feels like trying to navigate an 800 horsepower car that barely weighs over 1,000 pounds around a mound of high-banked dirt. The game is definitely at its best where it really counts: on the track.
Unfortunately, the single-player mode is let down by its lack of difficulty. The main career mode is supposed to have you climbing up through the ranks during a season, earning upgrades and sponsors for your car, but you are able to immediately dominate for the most part. The game does seem to get harder as the career mode goes on, but it never provides much of challenge and neither does playing in the Arcade mode at full difficulty.
However, online is a different story. There you will be challenged by some serious dirt fiends who will likely lap anyone who has not mastered the game. If you can find a good number of people to play with, this might be the place to get the most out of the game. Though, it is disappointing that online is limited to eight racers.
Sure the graphics aren't Forza esque, but the game isn't half bad if you give it a chance.
The tracks are all very boring looking, and there is never much to distinguish them from each other. However, the game does boast some nice dirt effects throughout. Dirt gets splattered all over the cars during the races and covers the screen, blocking your view in the process. This necessitates the use of a tear-off to clear the windshield. You have a limited number per race, which ads some strategy in the game. You do not want to use them all up and end being blind on the last lap.
There is barely any commentary before, during or after the races. There is only a PA announcer who says maybe one line before the race, only says "halfway" and "last lap" during the race, and says nothing after the checkered flag. A little bit of commentary can go a long way towards immersing a user in a game. I would have loved to hear something about my career achievements or the achievements of any of the other drivers in the game.
Game modes here are pretty standard fare: Arcade, Career and Multiplayer. Arcade just lets you jump into a quick race and gives you options for length, level of realism and whether or not the race is at day or night. Career is the meat of the game, where you go through a season earning sponsors and upgrades for your car. These upgrades also carry over to the online experience so make sure to grind through the career mode before heading online. Online you have the regular races and four other modes: tag, bomb tag, hot spot and hot spot delivery. These other modes are basically uninteresting variations on tag, capture the flag and king of the hill.
World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars has the making of a game that could develop a strong cult following. Fans of the series should definitely pick it up and, since the game is priced at just $20, I would recommend it to other racing fans who might want to try something a bit different. It is a game that is most definitely short on flash, but delivers just enough substance to keep you playing.
On the Track: The strongest part of the game, great handling model.
Graphics: Average looking at best. Plain tracks and very poor damage modeling.
Sound Design: Very lacking. Virtually no commentary and a generic rock soundtrack.
Entertainment Value: Great if you are a real fan of the World of Outlaws series. Just above average to good otherwise.
Learning Curve: Easy to get the hang of cars, too easy to dominate the computer.
Online Play: Provides a much better challenge than the AI, but the field is limited to just eight cars.
Score: 6.5 (Decent)