Driving in circles.
NASCAR video games tend to cater to a peculiar crowd. Either they're arcade-style affairs that may seem too kiddy-like for the hardcore, or you have full-on sims that become nearly impossible for the general audience to grasp.
For NASCAR's debut on the iOS front, Eutechnyx has decided to try something new with Redline. Instead of making it a full-blown NASCAR racing game, it's more of a sports simulator. You sit on the sidelines, watching the action happen, and occasionally jump in during key moments to make shifts on a speedometer - changing tempo in a race, for example.
There are pros and cons to that formula. The pros involve pacing. Rather than having to sit through strenuous lap after lap - as you would in a real simulator - Redline's interface allows you to speed up time while still keeping tabs on the condition of your vehicle. If you're running low on fuel, or your engine and tires show wear, you can pit with ease.
Redline also puts on a show when it breaks away to the racing field. The cars themselves look beautiful, and the occasional crashes and scrapes resemble what you'd expect to see in a real NASCAR event.
The game also gives you plenty of room for improvement, whether you want to upgrade particular parts on your car (such as chassis, suspension, and engine) or train your pit crew to work faster. You can even change sponsors should you be rubbing one the wrong way, or just find one that pays better.
Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives by some margin. In order to make any kind of improvements to your car or team, you need money - and you're going to be bottom-feeding for a while when you start your career, finishing 39th or below. As a result, you'll need to pull out real cash in order to pay for what feel like essential improvements. Considering the app itself costs $4.99, this in fact feels like highway robbery.
Beyond this unpleasantness, and despite the ability to speed up races, NASCAR Redline never really changes much in general. You proceed through one race, perform some quick-time-event actions, and then move on to the next race. There are no new challenges ahead of you, beyond competitors trying to call you out. It's just the same old thing, with no real evolution behind it.
It also would've been better to have an option to switch to real-time racing if you didn't feel like looking at a stat screen. Unfortunately, you have no control over when you switch to your car. Everything stops, switches, forces you to accelerate or hit the gas, and then it reverts right back. It's like being told you have ownership of a Porsche, then not being allowed to drive it when you want.
If you're looking for a different kind of NASCAR game - one that provides a strategic take on the sport - Redline may well be worth taking for a spin. Otherwise, with its ridiculous paywall system and repetitive gameplay, it may leave you feeling rather flat.
Download NASCAR: Redline - iOS
What's Hot:The graphics are beautiful, and the ability to speed up races is a nice touch. Lots of vehicle modifications and sponsors to choose from.
What's Not:The pacing is dull, with intermittent driving segments - if you can even call them that. Considering the price of the basic app, the paywall system is unfair and it takes a long time to get anywhere.