World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars isn’t a good game. The wheels don’t look like they’re touching the dirt track, the cars don’t look so hot, there’s no personality to the career mode, there’s no real commentary aside from the PA announcer, the music is just generic guitar chords, and tweaking your vehicle doesn’t make it feel any different.
In short, there are plenty of racing games on the Xbox 360 that lap this one.
World of Outlaws is of course the NASCAR of sprint cars. Here, racers take these cars with big ol’ wings and big ol’ rear tires around dirt tracks in hopes of capturing the checkered flag. There’s mud flying, engines roaring, and the crowd cheering for their favorite drivers, but World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars gets none of that right. This is a niche game appealing to fans of the sport, but it paints with such a broad brush that this feels like a completely generic experience.
There are drivers fans would recognize from the circuit, but they only exist as small headshots on race results screens. You play as your own racer, but your customization options for the car are locked patterns and colors – there’s no chance at making something truly unique. Rather than spring for a soundtrack on par with its wrestling games, THQ went with the most ho-hum rock rifts.
See the mud in motion.However, maybe I’m harping on the game’s most superficial problems. Once you’re past the matter-of-fact red and black menu, there’s plenty lacking on the actual track. To begin with, the controls are less than responsive. Yes, I get that I’m on a dirt track so there needs to be a technique to driving, but the amount of sliding, spinning, and slamming into walls seems a bit ridiculous – especially because you can’t see what’s going to be a big bump or ramp in the dirt. There are different colors of mud on the track and you’d expect there to be bumps and such, but there’s no visual clue as to what part of the track is going to hurl you off the ground. You’ll just be driving and start spinning out or getting kicked up into the air by invisible divots in the darkest mud. You can spot your tire tracks in the soil, but they don’t serve as anything other than “visual candy” – marks on the carpet that don’t affect your speeds.
Worse is that it’s clear that your tires aren’t making the marks on the carpet; the tires aren’t even touching the dirt. The tires are gliding over the dirt. More insulting? The tires are kicking up tiny pixilated clumps of mud from the dirt that they’re not even touching. If you get in the way of some other driver’s rooster tail, the game does this effect where mud begins to splatter on your TV screen. It’s blurry and doesn’t look that great, but it encourages you to use your tear offs – press the X button to peel off your limited number of visor skins. If you don’t use the tear offs, the screen will stay super-muddy and get harder to see through if you keep getting dirty. If you get down into the game’s behind-the-wheel POV, your view can also be obscured by accidents crushing your wings toward the windshield, but this is the only damage you’ll take in the game. I’ve tried to total my car and kill other drivers – head on collisions at full speed – but these rides can’t be taken out of the game. You get in these accidents, roll the ride, and then it’s right back to racing.
Not to beat a dead horse, but this lack of detail is reflected all over the place. All the cars look the same (boxes), the infields are populated with bland cubes of stuff, the graphics are jaggy on the car wings and the crowd is just a painting. You can jump in and “tune” your car, but switching up my tires and wings never really made the racing feel any different.
If we want to talk about modes, we’re looking at another failing of World of Outlaws. Career mode is just a list of possible races to compete in. There is no “this is your career” feeling; you’re just in it. Arcade mode lets you race whenever and wherever you want, and multiplayer (online and offline) is pretty “eh.” There are a number of modes for your eight-player matches (local is two-player only) such as simple races and then “bomb tag,” but the graphics are more jaggy here, the controls seem even looser, and it just isn’t any more interesting.
I understand wanting to support your favorite niche sport. Back in the day, I bought two crappy ECW games from Acclaim’s pro wrestling line because I wanted to support my favorite federation. Those games weren’t good and neither is World of Outlaws: Championship Sprint. Even if you’re a diehard fan of the motorsport, you’re not getting a worthwhile experience here – your favorite drivers are reduced to names on the ticker and tiny headshots on statistic screens.
The racing isn’t engaging, exciting, or energetic, and that (along with a bunch of other oversights) sinks this game.