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Jeff Gordon Racing Preview

Publisher - ASC Games
Developer - Real Sports
Platform - N64
Release Date - June 1999
Type - Racing

Prior to E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), ASC Games announced that it had secured a deal with NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon, to create a new multi-console racer, aptly titled Jeff Gordon Racing. Apart from lending his name, ASC says that Gordon also plays an integral part of the development process, giving feedback and tuning instructions at every turn.

The game itself is based upon Gordon's vision of the NASCAR races of the future. Instead of racing in a straight oval, high banked turns, 300 mile per hour speeds and futuristic tracks all distinguish Jeff Gordon Racing from the host of other generic racing games out there. Couple these facts with Gordon's desire to make a game that's accessible to everyone (read: not a simulation) while still keeping the realistic vehicular physics and you have something that's even more different from existing NASCAR games on any platform. (Note that EA is working on NASCAR '99, which is sure to stress sim aspects over arcade).

Although still early in development, ASC recently showed IGN the PlayStation version of the game, which surprised with excellent graphics and realistic physics. As you look at the screen-shots, take special note of the four circles in the lower right hand corner of the screen. Those circles represent the stresses placed upon each of the four tires. As corners are tightened or cars accelerate, the circles will swell and change color. The gauge gives drivers insight into how close they are to slipping on a turn, or spinning out.

Track designs are all "fantasy tracks" and include elements such as jumps (mainly for crossovers) and cloverleaves.

When IGN spoke to Gordon about the gauge, he recounted that the gauge represents the essence of what is taught in driving schools and he wishes that there were some way to have said gauges on his car in real life.

In its PlayStation incarnation, the game moved incredibly smoothly and offered excellent colored lighting effects (the screen-shots you see are all taken from the PSX version). We can only hope that ASC has the necessary programming skills to port the game to N64 without losing too much of the graphic flair and detail.

Right now, ASC is concentrating on completing the PSX version before porting it to other systems. With NASCAR being the fastest growing spectator sport in the country and Jeff Gordon's name becoming something of a household item (due in part to sponsorships from Pepsi and Dupont among others), Jeff Gordon Racing could turn out to be a giant hit when it debuts on the N64 next year.