704 Games gave us a free copy of NASCAR Heat 2 to check out, this is our impressions of their newest game. This year they are back with Monster Games for development of the game which caters to both sim and casual players. I prefer the sim feel but I use a controller. The game features all tracks on the NASCAR circuit for the Monster Energy Cup, Xfinity, and the Camping World Truck Series. Almost every team across the three series is featured and they get used in the campaign to help you progress your story.
The gameplay for this years version is highly improved. I really could not get a feel for the last games racing model. This time around it does feel like I am racing against other drivers and can be competitive. There are still some issues in the difficulty of the AI. I can be beating by a lap or so easily after I’m with a team of high-caliber, even on the highest difficulty. If you are looking to make the career harder go with a team of low rating and work them up. The game allows you to progress your team so that they will run better in a race. The game does have an issue with Superspeedways and drafting however. The AI doesn’t seem to understand pack drafting. They do not like being pushed and they do not know when to push you. This can create a very poor feeling at those tracks since that is such an important real world experience.
I feel I have more control over my car compared to the last game. When I head into a corner I can feel if I may be sliding the tires too much and need to back it off or I need to push a little harder the next lap. The car gets up to speed properly and turns well. I really was not a fan of the first NASCAR Heat Evolution due to some of the poor handling. Pit road can be very tricky getting into and out of as well due to the AI not fully understanding how to enter and exit when there are other cars around them doing the same. There is also a race breaking bug where the game will load an audio cue for the spotter and it freezes. You can check out the video below for this unfortunate bug. Also, you can see the game has fantastic graphics to a point. The track and cars are all rendered very well and the sky looks great too. My complaint is with the fans in the grandstands, and the infield for the tracks.
I mentioned briefly above that the game features a career mode and allows you to be with any of the teams through each of the three levels. Your career as a driver is a struggle to be signed with a top team. This makes the game challenging and interesting. To start out you are offered one race at a time to drive for a team and depending on how well you do with them they will possibly ask you to sign with them for the next season. This makes for the game to feel a bit more realistic, plus having Brad Keselowski guide you through it is a nice touch. Each team has a rating and depending on their rating your car will be faster or slower. Each team will have a challenge for you to complete, typically a finish above 18th place for example. I found this to be a bit easy since most were reachable goals for each team. Another nice feature is the ability to create your own car or truck and have that team add you to their list of drivers rather than taking over a vehicle. The Paint Booth is great to have in the game although very simple. You are only able to select a design and the sponsors. A great feature I would like to see in a future game would be the Sponsors having more of a voice and how you should compete to earn them or lose them.
The game overall has the capabilities to be great and you can tell that the team behind it are improving with each full release of the game. Monster Games continued support of the original NASCAR Heat and provided many patches to help improve the quality of the game. That is why I won’t be holding the bug above against them too much. The graphics are good, they can be better. The car control is good and I’m personally happy with it. The career mode is fun and makes you want to move through the ranks which helps keep myself interested in it long-term. With that in mind I feel the game gets a solid three out of five. You can pick up your copy on Playstation 4, Xbox One, or PC now. Again thank you to 704 Games for the free copy and I can’t wait to see how the next one turns out.