NASCAR The Game 2011 is eight weeks deep into the racing season on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but the Wii version only now approaches the starting line. While Eutechnyx hit some high points on the other consoles, this Wii outing simply doesn't deliver on graphics, options, and overall experience.
The Wii's only other NASCAR outing was 2009's NASCAR Kart Racing. In a lot of ways, the Wii is much more suited to a cartoon-themed take on the sport than this dumbed-down version ported from more powerful consoles. By forcing the original game into the constraints of the Wii's power, the final product looks quite similar to NASCAR games from the turn of the century (though with a smoother frame rate, to be fair). Every line has stark pixilation and the backgrounds are a splash of blurriness. The crowds are a blocky mess of bland color. Even the fanfare events, like flying jets and spraying champagne, simply spurt large squares of smoke and booze, respectively. While the intention behind the game was to provide an intense and realistic experience, the Wii's cement-footed controls don't allow for such finesse. Rather than slowing down cleanly to approach a curve, the controls only allow for releasing the gas and slamming on the brakes -- there's no in between. Navigating the game's races requires a smooth ability to turn, so throwing a foot on the brake simply doesn't cut it.
Players can either use a nunchuk and remote combo or the Wii Wheel to race their way through the Sprint Cup. While the nunchuk allows for more precise handling, the motion-controlled turning does create a fun experience for anyone who simply wants to jam on the gas and move forward. The left and right turning motions are clean and responsive, but again, without a pressure-sensitive gas and brake, one only has so much control. With its simplified appearance, the Wii's NASCAR The Game 2011 does manage to pull off a more consistent wave of the yellow flag. Both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions were spotty in their use of cautions, but the Wii manages to catch when the race needs to reset. Despite this addition of penalty consistency, the black flag remains tucked away. Even with the flags, the crashes in this version of NASCAR simply aren't that exhilarating. Cars rarely flip and a pileup only involves cars pressed tightly together.
NASCAR The Game 2011 on Wii lacks the tuning options of its console-cousins. While a pit stop can tweak tire pressures and a few other factors, there's no pre-race tuning ability available to create the car setup needed for any particular track. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions allow cars to be tuned and saved to any track in the game, so the Wii's lack of a custom garage is a glaring omission. In addition, the Wii doesn't allow players to paint cars to their liking outside of unlocked paint schemes. After winning a race the game presents the ability to gratuitously celebrate a victory by spinning donuts for extra experience points and playing a long, drawn out car-top fist pump and a blast of champagne to cover adoring bystanders. While some celebration is well deserved, it's hilarious to watch the older drivers climb up on the cars to celebrate like the youth around them using the same animations.
NASCAR The Game 2011 on Wii also lacks online multiplayer. While the other consoles had their fair share of technical glitches in online races, the Wii only supports split-screen action. While it's fun to tinker around a track with a friend, this means the majority of one's competition comes from A.I. alone.
Even if you bleed NASCAR, NASCAR The Game 2011 simply doesn't deliver. While it offers up some fun, the lack of control finesse, poor graphics, and missing customization make it one to pass up.