NASCAR 08's box touts the fact that EA's NASCAR series is the top-selling NASCAR franchise, but nowhere on the packaging does it tell you that it's the top-selling franchise because it's the only NASCAR franchise. However, the fact that there's no competition is made apparent as soon as you play. There have been a few improvements to how the game plays and you can now drive the Car of Tomorrow, but inexplicably, there's less to do in NASCAR 08 than there was in NASCAR 07. It's still a competent racing game, but you can't shake the feeling that NASCAR 08 would have been a whole lot better if there had been a competing NASCAR game out there.
EA Sports. It's in the game. Unless they take it out. Like they did with the Dodge challenge from 07 and speedzone from 06.
NASCAR 08 features a solid number of real and fantasy tracks, as well as almost every driver you'd want. The only major driver who's missing is Carl Edwards, but there are also some notable track omissions, including Mexico City and Montreal. You can race a full, half, short, or custom season in the Whelen Modified, Nextel, National (Busch), or Craftsman truck series. You can even race a season in the Car of Tomorrow. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 received a new mode called "the chase" that served as a nice way of introducing people to NASCAR, but that mode is nowhere to be found here. Also missing in action are the Dodge challenges that were so enjoyable last year. Reliving the greatest moments from the previous NASCAR season was one of 07's better features, and its omission here is disappointing.
One thing the PlayStation 2 version has that the others don't is "earn your stripes" mode. It's basically "fight to the top" mode from last year with a few minor changes. These changes are for the better, but it's so similar to last year that you'll probably grow tired of it rather quickly if you went through the whole process in NASCAR 07. You start out driving in the Whelen Modified series to slowly work your way up through the different series by winning races and earning licenses. Unlike the licenses in the PS3 and 360 versions, all you've got to do here is run a lap in a certain amount of time; there's no test of specific driving skills. As you progress through the ranks, you'll make rivals, test car setups for different race teams, improve your driver's stats, and even purchase upgrades with your prize money.
On the track, 08 feels almost exactly like 07. The controls are a little less touchy than last year (and much less finicky than the PS3 and 360), so it's easier, but still difficult, to race in a pack. You can still intimidate other drivers in an effort to get them out of your way with the press of a button and work with teammates by issuing commands with the D pad. However, you can't teleport from car to car in an effort to help your team do better anymore. This isn't a huge loss, but it's another example of EA removing features rather than adding them. The game's artificial intelligence is still solid, though drivers are still too prone to going berserk when you accidentally bump them and often retaliate by blatantly smashing into you.