Title: NASCAR Heat 2
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Developer: Monster Games
Genre: Racing video game
Official Site: http://www.nascarheat.com/
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Where To Buy: Steam, Xbox Marketplace, PlayStation Network, Local Retailer
Growing up in the predominantly rural, countryside of Southern Delaware (often referred to as slower lower), I refrained from watching NASCAR for most of my life. Part of it was a lack of interest, but most was just based on not liking the culture surrounding it. Yet just like the feeling that occurs when playing other sports as opposed to watching them, NASCAR Heat 2 delivers an exciting experience that, while simple, fans of the sport and those with no interest in watching it alike can enjoy.
This years game has made a lot of changes to the Career mode, taking out upgrades and skill trees, and lengthening the journey considerably. Starting out at the bottom, I began as a hot seat driver. This position is similar to a temp working, with the one week offers giving out objectives as a means of earning money and impressing teams to earn offers.
Right away the mechanics are straightforward, drive fast and pass opponents. After a bit, I learned certain intricacies associated with doing better, like drafting and positioning in qualifiers taking a bit to understand, but for the most part, I just raced recklessly. And boy was it fun. Taking a corner fast, whilst everyone else slows down, would shoot me past multiple people, usually at the price of scrapping an opponent or causing a wreck.
This method didn’t go without repercussions though, as drivers would confront me after the race for my antics, introducing me to NASCAR Heat 2’s rivalry system. Tempers will boil over the more I went at it with a specific driver, as he’d become just as aggressive towards me in races. Whether they are friend or foe though, the acting on display in the videos shot with the real-life drivers is pretty laughable. But hey, at least they got the real drivers. While it’s not as intricate as Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system, the rivalry system is a neat little addition to the game.
The nice part about rivalries are that things would cool off depending on how long I acted aggressively toward that same driver, and rivalries would change throughout the season. And what a long season. Not counting the playoffs, there are 26 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Series and the junior-circuit Xfinity Series, and 16 races for the trucks.
As a result there is a lot of grinding that occurs, racing the same tracks over so many races, some less favorable and atmospheric than others. The biggest downside to this being that The grind is met with reward though, as momentum – earned by strong finishes at the track – granted stronger, better performing cars for my team.
Career Mode isn’t the only feature in NASCAR Heat 2 worth the mentioning though, as the challenge and scenario mode is reminiscent of the one in Madden 10. The mode features 29 challenges, all surrounding infamous drivers and situations known in the NASCAR world. Each one is unlocked and played in order from, varying from William Byron holding off Paul Menard with four laps to go or even running out of gas with Kevin Harvick in Atlanta.
NASCAR Heat 2 doesn’t have to be played alone either, allowing both local split-screen mode and even a massive 40 car online multiplayer. There is nothing more fun than messing around with friends on the track going over 200 MPH. Not every car was made up of other players though, as this year’s iteration introduces AI to the field as well. The new leaderboards, rolling seasons, online cautions, and NASCAR stage are a welcome addition too, adding variety to the online play.
You may want to turn on an actual NASCAR event while you are waiting for any of the NASCAR Heat 2 game modes to load though. During the opening stretch of the Career mode, it took about five minutes of time to get to the first race and another five to actually load it. Challenges and Multiplayer load times weren’t much better, as I booted up YouTube more than once to pass the loading time.
Despite not being a huge NASCAR fan myself, NASCAR Heat 2 really does provide a genuine, fun racing experience. And All without the bodily harm and fear that comes with wrecking a car at 200 miles per hour.
VERDICT: NASCAR Heat 2 offers a fun and simple experience that true NASCAR fans will appreciate. A long, grinding Career Mode, bad acting, and lengthy load times will likely deter those who think the sport is simply cars turning left, but could also entice non-NASCAR fans by experiencing it first hand, without the danger.
Have you played NASCAR Heat 2? Did you agree or disagree with anything from my review? Be sure to voice your opions in the comments below and start a discussion!
[The Nerd Stash received NASCAR Heat 2 from 704Games for the reviewing purposes of the Xbox One version of the game.]
- Career and challenge modes
- Rivalry structure
- Genuine NASCAR experience
- Grinding, repeated tracks
- Driver acting is about what you’d expect
- Load time