NASCAR 21: Ignition Review – In Need of a Pit Stop

Developer Motorsports Games has recently released their third NASCAR title: NASCAR 21: Ignition. Is the game race day ready, or should it be returned to the pits?

Read on to find out.

 

Developer Motorsports games was founded in 2018 and went on to acquire controlling interest in developer 704 Games. This gave Motorsports Games the licensing for all NASCAR related video games and they have since released NASCAR Heat 4 and NASCAR Heat 5. NASCAR 21: Ignition is their latest release, but they probably should have held it back for a few more months and they should have had several open beta tests to better prepare the game. While NASCAR 21: Ignition isn’t totally unplayable, it should have never been released in its current state.

NASCAR 21: Ignition Review – NASCAR Rules are a Double Edged Sword

For folks just wanting to jump into a NASCAR automobile and run a few races in Race Now, here’s a few tips for you. If you turn on NASCAR rules, you may get disqualified for losing control and spinning out. This has happened to us several times now and we didn’t even make contact with another driver or a wall. Seemed like we hit an ice patch, lost control, and spun off the track. Once it happened after 50 laps, and another time after 150 laps. Yellow flag cautions seem to be a rare instance with rules on, even if there is a large crash. If you turn NASCAR rules off, lord have mercy on your soul as you will have to either drive around a massive pile up for multiple laps, or get stuck in one yourself. This has happened at several short tracks and even at Daytona, and trying to dodge a twenty care pile up at 160 mph is no easy task.

We did have quite a few races in Race Now where the game ran flawlessly, NASCAR rules off of course, and the game was a lot of fun. Drafting up to 198 mph at Talladega, and getting that nice slingshot pass is a great feeling. Not being able to see where the guy you just passed in a rearview mirror isn’t. Currently PC players were just given a rearview mirror in a patch, but those of us on a console still have to guess where the next racer is behind us. This is another one of those features that should have been in a game like this at launch. NASCAR races are won and lost in hundredths of a second, and not knowing exactly where a racer is behind you is unacceptable. It’s almost like the developer has never paid much attention to a real NASCAR race.

NASCAR 21: Ignition Review – Only One Wheel Supported at launch

Thrustmaster was nice enough to send us a T150 wheel, a 3 pedal set up, and their TH8A Shifter a while back, and we have used it quite a bit when reviewing racing games like WRC10 and GRID. While downloading the game we went to the game’s website to see if our set up would work. According to their website, we were happy to see that it would. We understood that it would be limited and we would still need to use a controller to navigate menus and such, and while not the most efficient way to play the game, we were OK with that. Upon loading up the game we went into the settings to see what we could adjust on our wheel but the only one listed was the Logitech G29. We currently don’t have said wheel, so our only choice was to race using a controller. Needless to say we were very disappointed. There’s word that more wheels will be supported after future patches, but that’s too little too late for this review.

NASCAR 21: Ignition Review – Barebones Career

As fans of NASCAR, we were hoping for an expanded career where we could build our crew and team from scratch, with at least some level of customization. Once again we were disappointed because all you can do is sign a race contract with one of the current teams and drive someone else’s car. Your name will be seen in the standings and race results, but it’s always someone else’s name slapped onto the car. This is another one of those things that just make zero sense and seems like it would have been a simple fix that would have pulled the gamer more into the experience. Instead, if you do make it to the Winner’s Circle (with no post race burnout either), you’ll be watching some other helmeted driver celebrating your win, because it’s their name on the car.

NASCAR 21: Ignition’s career mode wasn’t immune to glitches or rule problems, either. We turned off NASCAR rules, damage, and tire wear due to constant issues with fuel not refilling at a pit stop, flat tires remaining flat after a pit stop, and the same problems we had in Race Now with DQs and lack of proper cautions. After finishing a season in career, we had to skip the first race of the next season due to the above image being the only thing loading at the first practice session, qualifying, and the actual race. We basically had to start the season with whatever finish the game wanted to give us because simulating the entire weekend was the only way to advance that calendar. The next season started the exact same way.

NASCAR 21: Ignition Review – Great Looking Game

We played NASCAR 21: Ignition on a PS5 plugged in to a LG 4K TV, and the game looked great. Separated from all of its technical flaws, the game has a solid foundation to build upon, as the 3D modeling is spot on. The tracks are digitally reproduced impressively, as are the cars and trophies for each race. The developer did include a paint booth so you can create your own custom paint jobs. These can not be used in career mode, or even online, but can only be used in Race Now. Not sure why they can’t at least be used online, but maybe we are missing something here, but we never had a choice for which car we had to use in online races.

 

 

NASCAR 21: Ignition is not a game we would recommend in its current state. The developer didn’t include any other type of NASCAR racing other than the basic cars (trucks don’t exist?), the career mode is basic and uninspiring, the glitches, crashes, and having to simulate to just to make the career work is unacceptable, and really, the game shouldn’t have been released. In this day and age, it seems to be the norm for a developer to release an unfinished title, and then just expect gamers to forgive them for their inability to release a fully working title, and patiently wait for it to improve with post release patches. Sadly, until the gaming community speaks with their pocket books, developers will probably continue with this trend.

3


NASCAR 21: Ignition review code provided by publisher and reviewed on a PS5. Thrustmaster products are not supported so the game was played entirely with a controller. For more information on scoring, please read What our review scores really mean.