Dirt Racing is something that’s been missing from the gaming landscape for quite some time. Sure, we’ve gotten tastes of it here and there, but we haven’t gotten a true dirt racer since World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars back in 2010. Tony Stewart’s Sprint Car Racing not only gives fans that game but does it in a way that hasn’t been done before for the sport.
Familiar Yet Enjoyable
Made by the former developers of the NASCAR Heat series — Monster Games — Tony Stewart’s Sprint Car Racing has the backing of an experienced studio that knows a thing or two about building fun racing titles. Because of that, you’ll quickly feel like you’ve played this game before.
The game’s UI has been updated to match the style of the game, but it still feels like the NASCAR games of the past five years. That’s not a bad thing, though, as it’s clean and easy to navigate. From race settings to vehicle setup, everything is right there for you to find.
The game’s career mode is almost exactly what you’d expect. You start with your custom driver on the lower-level Three Quarter Midget single-seat and work your way up to the more powerful 305s and 410s. As you progress, you get the option to upgrade your vehicle, complete sponsor challenges, and even sign with new sponsors between seasons.
Unfortunately, those sponsorships don’t really mean much more than income potential. You don’t get any performance feedback whatsoever, and you’re kind of just left to yourself on how to improve your racing.
Regarding vehicle upgrades, you can tell that the upgrades matter to the cars. It’s not one of those experiences where you upgrade in name, but can’t really feel it on the track.
What’s more, is that moving up the ranks can be as easy or as difficult as you want. Want to move up quickly? Playing on the lower levels will see you become one of the best right away. Want a challenge? Give playing on hard with no assists a shot.
If the career mode isn’t your cup of tea, Sprint Car Racing offers other modes like the single-season Championship Mode and even 25-player online races. That said, the only races were pretty unreliable with lag when we tried them.
Dirt Racing Done Right
Unlike your standard stock car racing, dirt racing is a completely different animal. Not only are things more slippery on dirt tracks due to the lack of true grip, but it also requires more precision from the drivers. In Sprint Car Racing, that nuance is done extremely well.
You can’t just assume that going aggressive 100% of the time is going to lead to success on the course. Rather, you need to find a fine balance between that aggression and a more finesse approach, especially around the turns. Speaking of turns, because of the size of the tracks, you will be turning a lot. Straightaways are few and far between, which is sure to disrupt any sense of normalcy a racing game may often present.
You may find your thumbs getting sore with the amount of time you keep the wheel turned, but if you have a wheel setup, controlling your sprint car is as exhilarating digitally as it would be on an actual track.
Where the game falters on the track is with the overall damage model. Now, vehicle damage isn’t something that Monster Games has been able to figure out on the current generation of consoles, and that remains the case here. Everything feels like just a minor fender-bender no matter the impact. I’m not saying the damage model has to be at a Wreckfest level, but seeing noticeable damage on your vehicles — whether it’s bent wheels, broken axles, or broken wings — would be nice.
Tony Stewart’s Sprint Car Racing is the game that sprint car fans have been waiting for. It’s not a true simulation experience, but it doesn’t have to be nor is it ever trying to be. What it tries to be is a fun and accessible game that anyone can quickly jump into.
Though it has its hiccups like frame stutters, poor damage, and some features missing from career mode, this is a game that offers enjoyment to anyone looking for something different.
Tony Stewart’s Sprint Car Racing not only gives fans the game sprint car fans want, but does it in a way that hasn’t been done before for the sport.