Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. Taking the checkered flag involves strategy, which the Grudge/Alliance feature exemplifies perfectly. Still, the controls are a bit too unforgiving for the casual racing fan. [Oct 2003, p.132]
  2. The new driver ally/rival dynamic makes for some interesting new twists. [Oct 2003, p.137]
  3. 90
    If you're the kind of hardcore NASCAR fans that will revel in the challenge of Career mode, you'll have an absolute blast with Thunder, particularly now that Tiburon has included a ton of in-game help and redesigned the interface to be massively more usable.
  4. The "Madden" or "Tony Hawk" of stock car racing games. It's as close as you can get to the real thing.
  5. 85
    The only area that the Xbox version of this game really pales in comparison to its PS2 brother is in the lack of an online mode -- a pity when the system has the necessary hardware built right in!
  6. It's fun and impressive, but neither the drama nor the realism will convert anyone who isn't already planning on naming their first-born "Dale." [Nov 2003, p.88]
  7. 85
    As long as you don't come in expecting any serious realism in the driving model, there are many ways to play and enjoy this title.
  8. Fanatics will tweak tire pressure, suspension, and build dynasties, alliances, and sponsorships; rookies can learn the nuances of drafting, passing, and holding position on dozens of real-world tracks.
  9. Extremely fun to play and highly addictive! And there are so many options that will keep you running back to your videogame system time and time again.
  10. Other than the unforgivable lack of online multiplayer mode on Xbox, this is one of the best ways to experience NASCAR short of making the pilgrimage to Thunder Valley. [Nov 2003, p.126]
  11. While there are some audio and AI issues, overall the game has progressed since last year. The grudge and alliance system adds a whole new element to gameplay.
  12. The "grudges and alliances" mode alone makes the game above and beyond any racing sim out there in terms of AI.
  13. One kick-ass game. If you're a fan of NASCAR racing, you've never had it so good on a home console. [Dec/Jan 2004, p.97]
  14. Takes a step forward with a few new game modes and an interesting rival/buddy system, but the uneven graphics and performance hurt it. And on Xbox, as with all EA Sports games, the situation is worsened with no online play.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 1 out of 10
  1. May 6, 2012
    I liked the racing. It is just the right difficulty and physics are perfect. I like the season option and the ability to create your own cars. There is quite a bit to do and it does not get boring easily. Full Review »
  2. Uter
    Feb 11, 2004
    I'm not a fan of Nascar, but this is genuinely a good game. There are a few problems though. The framerate takes a bit of a hit at some camera angles (none during gameplay thankfully though). Sharing drafting to gain allies seems like a bit unrealistic and gimmicky. In multiplayer, it'd have been nice if the pit crew weren't invisible. But overall it can be really fun. Full Review »
  3. JustinM.
    Nov 21, 2003
    I have played this game quite extensively and it is by far the best nascar game to hit a game console.. Gaphically, game play, difficulty, tracks, name it... This game just kicks ass... I on my 7th season in carrer mode and even in easy on career mode this game is challenging... If like to watch nascar you'll love to play this game.... by the way... Don't make the mistake of pissing off your competition they will return the favour with no hesitation.... Full Review »