The official NASCAR game franchise is one of the gaming world's longest running series.

Though development may have moved from the brilliant Papyrus games through EA Sports to latest developers Activision, the games have provided authentic thrills for NASCAR fans since the 1990s.

The latest NASCAR title is a little different. In a break from the traditional oval racing of the Sprint Cup series, November's NASCAR Unleashed will let gamers defy the laws of gravity and physics, driving across walls and up buildings. Vice president of licencing for NASCAR Blake Davidson says it'll be very different from NASCAR The Game, released back in March.

"That game was an authentic representation of the sport. Unleashed is completely different, one that takes a lot of creative licence".

The aim of the crazy new departure is to draw new fans into a sport with waning viewing figures, people who may be put off by preconceived ideas about the sport and to whom straightforward oval racing games may seem dull.

The game shouldn't put off the more traditional NASCAR fan though, and famous faces Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon will still be present - as will circuits like Daytona, Chicagoland and Talladega.

Sounds good to us, and the game will hit the shelves in November at a retail price of $40, in Sony PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii formats.

In the meantime, you can get your NASCAR fix with Activision's NASCAR 2011: The Game, and in Gran Turismo 5's selection of stock cars.

[New York Times]