**Note: This review is based on the PS4 version of NASCAR Heat 2. This review copy was provided by 704Games.**
I’ll start off by saying this review is a tad different, for a few reasons. The biggest being, that I have never played a NASCAR related video game before. I’ve played racing games, Forza, Gran Turismo, Project Gotham, but nothing NASCAR, so this was a change of pace. I’ve watched NASCAR racing on and off over the years, so I’m familiar with the setup, but I’m not too familiar with some of the newer, younger drivers these days.
So anyways, onto the game itself.
NASCAR Heat 2 features all three NASCAR national series, XFINITY, Camping World Truck and Monster Energy Cup Series, and also includes many tracks that are unique to those respective racing series.
The developer, Monster Games, completely revamped the career mode, to make it a bit more exciting, letting you race your way to the top, while also introducing rivals, which develop based on how well, or in my case, how badly you drive. The game does bring an online multiplayer option with it, which I found surprisingly easy to join games. I didn’t have to wait at all really to find a race to jump into with other people, which was very nice. An online race can support up to 40 people, so you can have a full track, if you can gather enough friends, or find a full lobby.
As far as the actual racing, the controls are pretty straight forward. Right trigger hits the gas, left trigger hits the brakes/reverse. I have to admit, I had to get used to the physics a bit, especially when you plow into every other car on the track, like I do. As far as the graphics, it’s not on the same level as other racers, such as Gran Turismo or Forza, and I did notice some framerate stuttering on some tracks. If I honestly had to guess what console I was watching it on, I’d have thought it was the PS3.
After a couple of attempts, I did manage to take first place, on my home state track of Talladega. This was after I drove like a maniac and took out half of the field. This would probably be frowned upon online, or in real life.
After a few rounds of online play, I dove into the story/career mode. Basically, you start off as a rookie, who gets asked to fill in for a driver on a race. There is a create a driver mode, but it leaves quite a bit to be desired, however, since you’re driving the whole time, I guess it doesn’t matter, since you rarely see your character. Depending on how well you do in each race, you may get picked to fill in on other races, as the weeks go by. With each race, you will get some cash, if you place better than a certain position. You don’t actually get to spend this cash, which is kind of what threw me off a bit. Basically, the cash is just a measure of how well you’re doing, and how much notoriety you’re getting as you move up the ranks. I was kind of hoping, that there would be an option to say, use that money to improve your pit crew, or improve the car build, to get better cars for future races, however that’s not how it works out.
The career mode’s story is neat, because there are videos from various NASCAR drivers, talking about you, as your progress your way through the season. However, some of the videos are kind of campy.
The neat thing about it is there’s a social media thing with it, so you’ll see tweets pop up written by other drivers, about you. Again, nothing game changing, but its neat, and makes the story a little more engaging.
I like it, but it’s not perfect. There’s plenty of depth in replayability, especially with the multiplayer mode. If you’re not use to driving in a circle (like me) it may take some getting used to, to get ahead of the pack, as the mechanics are a bit different than say with a simulation racer like Forza. With a price tag of $49, I’d say it’s probably marketed towards the dedicated NASCAR fans, but if you’re interested in trying something a bit different, check it out. The game is available for both PS4 and Xbox One.
Overall I give it 3 out of 5 Stars.