We really like the improvements that have been made to the game's special effects, available for those of us with 3-D accelerator cards. The smoke and dust effects are particularly convincing compared to those of the previous version. Audio is also much improved, and gamers with 3-D audio cards can enjoy some eerily realistic surround sound effects. It's possible to tell where another car is in relation to you simply by listening closely.
Novices can turn down many of the simulation's realism options and basically transform the simulation into an arcade game, but seasoned racers are still free to roll up their sleeves and modify virtually every aspect of their cars. From the amount of duct tape to put on the grille, to infinitesimally small changes in the stagger of the tires, if you can do it in real life you can probably do it in the game.
Races take place on a variety of familiar tracks. Darlington, Talladega, the Milwaukee Mile, Sears Point, Watkins Glen, and 23 other familiar ovals and road courses are rendered in superb detail. The excellent manual outlines the history of each venue and provides tips for car setups so beginners can get started right away. If people have ever told you that NASCAR racing is boring because all you have to do is turn left, put them behind the wheel of NASCAR 3 so they can see firsthand what it's really all about. --T. Byrl Baker