‘NASCAR Heat 2’ Review: Major Improvements, But A Little Short Of The Winner’s Circle – Forbes

NASCAR is my favorite brand of racing, but sadly, no developer/publisher has taken full advantage of the license. Monster Games is trying hard to change that narrative, and NASCAR Heat 2 is the beginning of a new chapter.

Credit: Monster Games

NASCAR Heat 2

After a rocky start with NASCAR Heat, Monster and 704 Games offer an imperfect but drastically improved sequel. Here’s the best, the worst and the bottom line on NASCAR Heat 2.

Credit: Brian Mazique

The Good

The Driving Is Still Loads of Fun

NASCAR Heat 2 doesn’t waste any time dropping you into the fervor of the race. Refreshingly, the loading times aren’t long and if you’re the type of gamer that wants to bypass the practice run and qualifying, you can jump right into a race.

From the moment any race begins, the action is intense. You are immediately trying to improve your position. NASCAR driving doesn’t have a ton of turns, so you have to take advantage of your opportunities–that’s especially the case with the condensed laps.

As was the case in the last version, the driving is the best part of NASCAR Heat 2, and this year the rest of the package isn’t half bad.

The Music Screams NASCAR

Music can get boring in a video game if there isn’t enough variation, but the soundtrack to NASCAR Heat 2 is packed with high-energy tunes that fit the country/rock culture that powers the sport. The curator of the soundtrack did an excellent job picking songs for the game.

The Modes Are Deep And Addictive

Unlike last year’s game, NASCAR Heat 2 is packed with a variety of modes. Each is distinct enough to occupy the time and attention of fans individually. Along with the traditional single-race feature, there’s Challenges, Championships, Career, Split-Screen and online multiplayer with as many as 40 human racers.

The challenges are executed a little cleaner than before. For example, in the first challenge, you’re charged with controlling Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 car and holding off the competition while running out of gas. It’s really challenging and addictive. I didn’t want to move on to another mode before conquering the task.

The other challenges are similar and there are more than 25 to complete. You could spend hours on that mode alone.

The Championships allow you to bypass any of the regular seasons of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and NASCAR XFINITY Series and head straight to the playoffs.

Moving past the regular season has its appeal, but the career mode is nicely executed and it has some decent depth. You start off looking for Hot Seat offers to compete in the Camping World Truck Series. The early races offer money rewards if you finish within the set goals on the final leaderboard.

The objective is to earn a spot on a team in that circuit. If you shine there, you can escalate to the Xfinity Series and ultimately up to Monster Energy. Group that with what’s included in the other modes and the split-screen racing, and we finally have a NASCAR game with variety and depth.

Credit: Brian Mazique

The Bad

Visuals Aren’t On Par With Best Racing Titles

NASCAR Heat 2 isn’t an eyesore, but it doesn’t look as sleek or as clean as some of the other top racing titles. Compared to F1 2017, Forza Horizon and others and you’ll quickly see the car designs, environments and tracks are a level beneath the competition.

There’s Little To No Difference Between Driving Cars And Trucks

The handling of trucks should feel a little different than cars, and I didn’t notice much of anything when bouncing between the circuits. Overall, NASCAR Heat 2 isn’t much of a simulation, but more distinctive alternative handling would have added another layer to the experience.

Presentation is Still Low

A lack of presentation was an issue in last year’s game and that is again a problem with NASCAR Heat 2. We don’t get any cool statistical overlays, before, during or after races. It would be nice to see learn the history of tracks, drivers, and rivalries. I’m still waiting on a racing game on this generation of consoles to give us an opportunity to employ a broadcast style audio package option.

Almost No Human Element

Unfortunately, the game is just missing commentators, it’s almost completely devoid of human voice. Some of the personalities synonymous with NASCAR coverage are absent and there’s an overall lack of charm. NASCAR Heat 2 is plugged into the action on the track, but the other elements of a sports video game that add to the immersion are missed.

Credit: Brian Mazique

The Bottom Line

From a pure fun factor, NASCAR Heat 2 delivers. Driving is a blast, even though it’s not all that realistic. Some will embrace the more arcade feel and others will scoff at the more simplistic racing concepts. However, no one should dismiss the depth that has been added to the modes and the massive leap the franchise has taken in just one year. The future could be bright for this series.

  • Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC (PS4 version reviewed)
  • Developer: Monster Games and 704 Games
  • Publisher: 704 Games
  • Release Date: September 12, 2017
  • Price: $49.99
  • Score: 7.3 out of 10

Review code provided by Monster and 704

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