Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
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  1. 100
    If you were looking for the ultimate NASCAR game, you’ve found it.
  2. One of the best NASCAR games I've ever played. With a full 43-car field displayed, the atmosphere of NASCAR racing is front and centre, drawing you in from the get go.
  3. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    Speaking as a true Winston Cup fan, I can't say enough nice things about this game. [Dec 2002, p.169]
  4. It's like watching a race on TV -- the graphics, even on a standard television, are picture perfect. I don't think I've ever seen pavement in a video game that looked so real before. The color and texturing is unprecedented.
  5. 90
    Edges out "NASCAR Heat" as this season’s top stock-car racer. Slick A.I. and a great Career mode make this game addictively playable.
  6. With graphics and frame rate no longer an issue, this time around, gamers will no doubt appreciate the depth of gameplay that the game has to offer.
  7. Game Informer
    Xbox's NASCAR Thunder is better. [Dec 2001, p.93]
  8. The game itself just needs more depth; they should have put the Thunder Cards in like the PlayStation version.
  9. 83
    As a simulation, it doesn't hold a candle to some of the games offered on the PC, but it makes up for it with its breadth of career mode features that help make it more than just a racing game, but a racing RPG of sorts.
  10. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    What really lights my fire is the Career mode…Second on my list of great stuff is the sweet control. [Dec 2001, p.244]
  11. Stunted graphics aside, NASCAR Thunder 2002 is a Winston Cup fanatic's dream...absolutely the best NASCAR title available for the PS2.
  12. Despite some of the AI problems NASCAR Thunder 2002 still provides a good race. The huge field certainly enhances the gameplay and makes passing a key aspect of the game.
  13. I believe the career mode could take a lesson from Madden. It seems the sponsers would be more fun if the negotiations were more like the free agent signings in Madden.
  14. Thunder 2002 opens to the rhythms of "Sweet Home Alabama," giving the game a touch of atmospheric country twang and setting the tone for the rest of the game. Get used to it, because it will be heard through most menu screens.
  15. Thunder 2002 comes as close as any NASCAR title ever could to making me a convert to the sport, which is a high complement from someone that finds NASCAR races on TV way too boring and repetitive.
  16. Makes enough nods to the uninitiated that it is an accessible game, but at the same time it retains the depth that diehard NASCAR fans demand.

Awards & Rankings

#40 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2001
#69 Most Shared PS2 Game of 2001
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 22
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 22
  3. Negative: 3 out of 22
  1. Jul 11, 2020
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. this was a great start to the nascar franchise on Playstation the season mode where u could upgrade car and pit crew was a must very good graphics for when the game came out Full Review »
  2. R.Olson
    Jun 3, 2005
    Im addicted probably the best racing game out there next to 04' and 05'
  3. RyanM.
    Feb 13, 2003
    One of the best racing games I've ever played. The graphics are great, but you may have trouble in the beginning getting all the detailsOne of the best racing games I've ever played. The graphics are great, but you may have trouble in the beginning getting all the details straight. I first played this game over my friends house, and I loved it so much I went out and bought it the next day. A must buy! Great addictive racing game. Full Review »