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The Spoiler Alert: vol 1 issue IV
review: A brief history of NR2003
posted by: theshackle - 3/18/2009  
Rating: 0/10
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My first racing game was NASCAR 99 on EA sports for Nintendo 64. It was a gift from my mom for my 8th birthday. And I loved it. Several years later the first game I played on my brand new Playstation 2 was nascar 2002. It was the first game to let you compete in a full 43 car field, but I most remember it for the endless nights with my friends driving backwards at tally or blocking the fronstretch at Indy. The only other EA games I bought again wear Nascar ’06 and ’07. Maybe It was because I was getting older and or maybe the quality really was plummeting, but the EA franchise had lost its luster. Sure I have a few good memories, like several photo finishes at Pocono or the time my cat turned off my play station just as I took the lead at Dodge Raceway, but in the end I was left empty and unsatisfied, hell Carl Edwards wasn’t even in nascar ’07.
And as I was losing hope of ever finding a good racing game…my saving grace… a 2007 article in Nascar Illustrated about Dale Jr. and some game called NR2003. A 4 yr old relic I had never heard of, but supposedly the greatest nascar game ever made.
So two years ago I did some research on NR2003 trying to decide whether or not it was worth buying over nascar ’08, obviously I went with NR2003. And today in 2009 the news that EA Sports, publisher of the disastrous NASCAR franchise, would not retain exclusive rights to the game has dominated Sim Racing headlines and given us all a renewed sense of hope. So what better time to look back at the way our beloved NR2003 came to be.
Nascar’s breakthrough to the virtual world first came in 1990 with Bill Elliot’s NASCAR Challenge ( check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-6LXN4T2j0). But The true Beginnings of Nascar games can be traced to 1994, when an upstart software company called Papyrus first took on the challenge of creating a solid nascar racing simulator. Known for its accuracy and technical realism, Papyrus established a firm link between Nascar and the Gaming world. The Papyrus franchise helped prove that nascar is not just going around in circles and played a role in the lives of many future stars like Tony Stewart and Dale Jr. With the help of Sierra Publishing Co. Papyrus continued to deliver great games for nearly a decade, which brings to the year 2003.
Electronic Arts, also developing Nascar games at the time, is a company known for its ruthless business tactics and tendency to eliminate competition through hostile and possible illegal methods. So it came as no surprise that by 2003 EA had acquired the exclusive rights to use NASCAR, its tracks, and drivers in all video games. This meant the end for Papyrus and the NR series of games. But the engineers at Papyrus knew this would happen, and with no possibility of a NR2004, every resource possessed by Papyrus was dumped into NR2003. The engineers wanted to create a lasting impression, this was their last hurrah, and with many of papyrus employees having jumped ship for EA, the remaining designers were determined to make a statement. And that was exactly what they did. NR2003 was released for the 2003 Nascar season as the most technologically advanced and realistic racing game available to consumers . The game was made even better by Project Wildfire, a group of papyrus workers who continued to expand the game to its current magazine of CTS, GNS, and TransAm physics., as well as the ability to “mod” the game.
You all know the rest. Today, NR2003 the six year old sim remains the premier Stock Car Racing Game. In a world where software is considered obsolete the moment it comes of the production line that is a major accomplishment.

-Greg "TheShackle"

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