NHRA: One for the Winner’s Circle

NHRA Drag Racing: Main Event
Genre
Reviewed On
PC
Available For
PC
Difficulty
Intermediate
Publisher(s)
Developer(s)
ESRB
ESRB
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Racing fans/gamers have experienced just about all of it. We’ve experienced what it’s like to get behind the wheel of an Indy car and reach speeds above 200mph. We know that awesome sense of victory and accomplishment that comes with claiming the checkered flag at the Winston Cup Talladega. We’ve endured the 24-hour Le Mans road courses and braved the dangerous terrains of the Rally car circuits. We’ve crushed lines of 2 ton scrap cars with our massive Monster Trucks. We’ve spun wheels on the back roads of street racing and at times found ourselves in a few high speed chases. So the question is what more is there to do? What more is there to ride for? Have racing gamers finally reached the peak of their virtual racing careers? Have we experienced everything on four wheels that we can possibly experience?

Ooooh, but no my heavy-footed raceaholics. There IS one more road to cross, one more horizon to conquer. It’s been on the discussion tables for some time and come across the message boards and forums on several occasions, but finally racing fans can experience the ultimate experience: Accelerating over 300 miles per hour behind a sound shattering 7,000 horsepower engine in the most adrenaline pumped ride of your virtual life. Playing NHRA Drag Racing: Main Event is just as good as watching the "Fast and the Furious." And if you haven’t seen that movie, you don’t belong on the track anyway.

From Pro Stock Cars and Pro Stock Trucks to Nitro Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters, it’s all in the game. Take your choice of 80 different cars and trucks plus a few downloadable hotrods. Race an entire 25 event NHRA season against World Champs like John Force, Jeg Coughlin, Bob Panella, Gary Scelzi and many other racing greats. The Moto1 and Valusoft teams have made sure to cut no corners as they present gamers with everything the sport of drag racing can offer.

Everyone knows that there’s roughly only about 30 seconds of racing in one event from start to finish. But let me be the first to say that after playing NHRA, "You can learn a lot in 30 seconds." In a typical drag race there are a number of procedures a driver must go through before the match starts. First off before the engines can be started the track must be cleared of any previous competitors and officials. After which the officials will give the "Start Your Engines" signal. Then the driver releases the brakes and allows the car to idle forward through an area called "the waterbox." This is an area behind the starting line sprayed with water to wet and prep the rear wheels for the "burnout" sequence.

To perform a burnout the driver must engage a "line-loc" mechanism to lock the front wheels allowing them to rev the engine to optimum RPM before releasing. During an actual burnout the driver completely depresses the throttle fully to break traction with the race surface. This creates a huge cloud of smoke, a trademark tradition of the sport and the fans all love.

After the tires start smoking the Line-loc is released and the driver must stop the car and back up behind the starting line. Once behind the line again the drivers must move forward toward the starting line and trigger the top lights on the Christmas tree by breaking a light beam that spans the width of the driver’s lane with their front tires. When the top lights on the Christmas tree light up the driver knows he’s in place.

This is called pre-staging. Once the staging process is complete the Line-loc mechanism engaged once again. The drivers rev the engine to optimum RPM, but this time when the line-loc mechanisms disengages the front wheels the race is on and either you’re a winner or a loser.

So now we take our "drag racing know-how" back to the track and put it to the test. Fortunately the Moto1/Valusoft team saw fit to cut out most of the prep sequences that happen before the race, so virtual drivers only need to engage their line-loc mechanisms, do their burnouts, and race for the finish line.

If you’re gonna be a virtual champ in this sport you’d be best to remember a few key notes to help get you started out on the right foot. In the NHRA timing and execution is everything. Unlike most races where you sometimes get a second chance to make up for lost seconds, here, even a half a second is unforgiving and ultimately means losing the race. You’ve got a quarter mile to shift five gears without overworking your transmission, so it’s important to get the most out of your engine without burning it up.

Every time you shift, you lose power for half a second. So the smoother the transition between gears the more likely you are to keep ahead one step of your opponent. More importantly the acceleration is so fast and intense it’s going take all your concentration to keep the car in its lane. At such high speeds the steering on a dragster is extremely sensitive so that even a slight tilt of the wheel left or right can cause you to overcorrect the car and send you into the "DQ zones." Keep in mind that you can be automatically disqualified if you’re car breaches your opponent’s lane, hits any cones in the medium, or skims the guard rails of the track. Not to mention you can also be disqualified for jumping the gun. Finally, once your wheels hit the finish line you must work quickly to shut your engines down and hit the "chute" button to release the parachute and apply the breaks. Else you’ll end up in the sand dunes at the end of the track. Not a pleasant experience most drivers would say.

NHRA Drag Racing also has online capabilities so when you’ve got a few championships under your belt it’s always a rush to drag down a quarter mile stretch against a human opponent. Even more a bonus than racing against human drivers, players can download the latest updates to stay current with their real life counterparts as well as download new cars to add to the current rosters and get new paints for their custom dragsters via paint shop or an adobe graphics program.

Bottom line, the only setback I would say this game has is it’s annoyingly long load times which occur between every match. Other than that, NHRA Drag Racing is must have title for any hardcore racing fan looking to broaden their horizons. Its adrenaline pumping gameplay, primetime graphics and beast-like sound engine puts this game into victory lane hands down. This game easily races for 4 1/2 out of 5 possible GIN gems and you can take that to the finish line.

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