The Active Network

Product: NASCAR 3 Racing
Company: Papyrus/Sierra
Estimated Street Price: $49.95
Review By: Robert Nielsen


       Stock car racing.  The great buffer zone for non-basketball fans between January & September (when football season starts).  There have been many games attempting to simulate the intricacies of racing with the "big boys," but, one developer has consistently turned out the best racing games.  Papyrus, a division of Sierra, has hit the virtual jackpot with their NASCAR series.  The original NASCAR Racing, with fully licensed drivers lists and tracks (except for Indy & Daytona), became an instant hit.  NASCAR Racing 2 was just as successful, taking the original game and adding 3DFX support.  Now, in 1999, NASCAR Racing 3 has hit the shelves.  This game promises not only to be the greatest NASCAR racing sim ever, it has the potential to become the greatest racing simulation of all time, period.


          The graphics, including full 3DFX compatibility, are second to none.  There have been many improvements over the NASCAR 99 graphics model, including:  Skid marks on tracks showing where you or another racer have spun out, damage marks on the walls from impacts, superb smoke effects from both accidents and blown engines, an animated starter in the flagstand, waving appropriate flags, are just some of the many improvements in the graphics category of this game.  Now, some people have complained that, since Papyrus abandoned their original plans to base N3 on the Grand Prix Legends engine, that it detracts from the realism.  Let me assure readers that this is not the case.  Although it is not possible in this model to flip a car after an accident, the real Winston cars have flaps installed which automatically deploy after a crash, insuring that the cars will not spin.  So, we just imagine that this game has those flaps already installed, we just can't see them.

          Another great improvement is the ability to select resolution up to 1024x768(If someone knows that you can take it higher, please, let me know).  This is a great improvement over the original NASCAR and NASCAR 99 games, which were stuck in 640x480.  Frame rates on my system were excellent in all modes, between 20-30 fps.  Also, the cars are modeled more accurately than in any previous NASCAR sim.


          Then, there's the sound.  One of the biggest knocks on the NASCAR Racing series was that its engine sounds didn't quite measure up.  So, in development of this game, Papyrus took recorders to Richard Petty's Driving School and was allowed to tape one of their cars on test runs for use in the game.  These cars, incidentally, use the same engines as the real WC & BGN cars.  This guarantees that the sound will be realistic.  And, the computer-controlled cars use the same engine sounds, so it's guaranteed to make your teeth rattle.


          Controls haven't really changed since the original NASCAR.  You can set up a joystick for your control (my setup), or, if you have a steering wheel on your system, the game will adapt quite easily to that as well. The menus are identical to the N99 interface, so veterans should have no trouble finding their way around.  Newbies will be pleasantly surprised at the ease of movement through the interface of this game.  One neat new feature is the track descriptions.  Each track, in the opening screen, shows a very attractive photo of the track, with all the setup options, and then, a description of the track itself (length of front straights, back straights, angle of bank in turns, etc).  This info can be a help in designing that winning setup. 

            By now, readers are thinking, "O.K., this sounds great, but, number one, how stable is it, number two, how much fun is it, and, number three, is it going to be one of those games I play once and then throw on the shelf?"  (OK, we might not all ask the questions in the same order, but you get the idea).  First of all, stability.  My system runs this thing like a champion, and mine would be considered "low end" by today's standards (and, six months ago, this baby was king of the silicon.  But, that was before the PII, AMD K6, Athlon, etc).  Frame rates are, as stated before, excellent, and, the sense of speed is wonderful.  If you fire up a race at Talladega, you really feel as if you're flying down that 4,000 ft. backstretch at over 200 MPH.


          One of the great things about the NASCAR series has always been the ability to tweak your car to your heart's content, and, N3 continues this tradition excellently.  There is a full pitshop where every little detail of the car, from gear ratios to "grille tape," which will improve aerodynamics, can be tweaked through easy-to-use control options.  There is also a complete paintshop where budding team owners can design their own teams and sponsors.  With the proliferation of user-created "carsets" for N2 & N99, the possibilities for this game are as limitless as the imaginations of the owners. 

          As for the actual racing, N3 differs from previous NASCAR games in several ways.  The CTS (Craftsman Truck Series) was, for some unknown reason, not included in N3.  This omission has not been explained, but, is a minor absence, since the (nearly) complete Winston Cup & Busch Grand National schedules are available to race, including nearly every track on both circuits.  One glaring omission from N2 & N99 has been rectified, however.  N3 owners can now race the famous "BrickYard"!!  Papyrus has secured the rights to reproduce Indianapolis for N3, and, I must say, the reproduction is very true to the original.  Daytona, however, is still MIA.

          There are two separate modes of competition in N3.  The single race mode allows you to race any track, from any schedule, with any car list.  Want to race the Winston guys at a BGN track?  Go ahead.  Want to see if the BGN gang can handle the Brickyard?  It's your pleasure.  The other mode, Championship mode,  offers both Winston and BGN 1999 schedules, as well as a "NASCAR Championship," including all the tracks.  This promises to make even the most seasoned driver want to come back for more.


  • High resolution 3D graphics supporting Direct3D and 3dfx Glide @ 800x600 & 1024x768 resolutions, and new effects including dynamic skids, translucent smoke and shadows, shaded groove, specular highlighting.

  • Free Internet multiplayer support.

  • 3D positional sound with DirectSound3D and A3D 2.0, dynamic all-new engine sounds, and separate spotter and crew chief audio.

  • Force feedback support.

  • Enhanced, aggressive Artificial Intelligence races you harder and smarter.

  • Enhanced setup options, including grill tape and sway bar adjustment.

  • Full paintkit to customize your own car.

  • NASCAR Racing 3 will also include the cars and tracks from the Busch Grand National series.

  • A total of 28 licensed NASCAR tracks from the NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division, all new and updated for the 1999 Season

  • 45 licensed drivers and cars

  • 3D sound with A3D 2.0 or DirectSound3D lets you hear your opponent moving inside to pass.

Screen Shots


Final Comments

How It Grades
Graphics: 93%
Sound: 92%
Gameplay: 91%
Stability: 90%
Controls: 94%
Value: 95%
Overall: 93%

Is N3 everything it was hyped up to be?Just about. The only omission, IMHO, is the decision to scrap the GPL engine and build this game around an updated version of the N2 engine. However, it's an update that does wonders for this franchise. Is this the best NASCAR Racing game ever?  Absolutely. In fact, this could very well be the best racing game of all time. Period. In short, I can sum up my feelings about N3 with these  words: Buy this game, buy it now!!

Overall Score 93%
Version Reviewed NASCAR 3 Racing
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 CD
1 Set of instructions
The Good Points Detailed Graphics
Good Music & Sound Effects
The Bad Points Engine Interface
Reviewers PC Setup Pentium II 233
Windows 98 Second Edition
128 Meg SD-Ram
DirectX 7
Diamond Monster Fusion w/latest drivers
Diamond Sonic Impact S90
PC Required Minimum - Pentium® 166
SVGA 800x600 w/64k colors, Windows® compatible soundcard.

Preferred - Pentium® II, 64 MB RAM, Glide or Direct3D supported 3D hardware, Joystick or Steering Wheel and Pedals, A3D 2.0 compatible soundcard.


This site is not related to the Microsoft Corporation in any way. Windows and the Windows logo are trademarks of the Microsoft Corporation. ActiveWindows is an independent site. The information and sources here are obtained from series of hard work & research.