Monster Games brought back the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck series in their follow-up to last year’s NASCAR Heat Evolution. Find out what we thought about the game in our NASCAR Heat 2 Review!
|Release Date||September 12, 2017|
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It’s been a long time since I’ve played a NASCAR title. I actually used to love playing these games with friends in the early 2000s with games like the NASCAR Thunder series from EA and some more obscure titles that I can’t remember. Those titles were fun because I could pick them up and play without having to be an expert at the game, but I could still have a long race with pit stops if I wanted to. One of the titles I liked a lot was NASCAR Heat and low and behold, Monster Games has come back to the series all these years later with last year’s NASCAR Heat Evolution. This year, they built open that offering with an experience that is great for players of varying skill levels in NASCAR Heat 2.
Difficulty in NASCAR games is hard to perfect. If you lean too much towards a simulation, you lose some of the fun. If you lean towards arcade gameplay, the simulation fans aren’t happy. Fortunately, in NASCAR Heat 2, you’re given the best of both worlds with the Normal setting being for drivers who like more of a fast-paced arcade style and Expert being for the people who want a true-to-life NASCAR race. I wanted to touch on this right away because it makes the game easy for anyone to pick up and enjoy right away.
Monster Games did something a bit different with the Career Mode in this game. You start out as a “Hot Seat” driver for the Camping World Truck Series. What this means is that you’re not actually signed to any one team, you just race for whoever needs a driver in any given race. The team you’re racing for will give you an attainable objective like, “finish in a top-20 spot”. Completing these objectives leads to offers from teams for next season.
There are 26 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Series and the Xfinity Series, and 16 races for the Camping World Truck Series. That’s a lot of racing and it’s even longer if you choose Expert difficulty. I felt like this became a little bit repetitive after a while which is to be expected with a game like this, but I felt like it was more of a rinse and repeat thing. You can’t even skip or sim any of these “Hot Seat” races so I felt like the game was pulling me in a distinct direction regardless of how I wanted to progress.
The game adds a little bit of extra personality in Career Mode in the form of video messages from other drivers and teams. These were nice touches, but they felt really generic and forced. Momentum is also new giving you a boost race to race for how well you finish and how clean you drive. There’s also a star system that tells you how good the vehicle you’re about to drive is. If you stick with say a 3-star team for a season, the next season, that team can develop into a 4-star team. This type of progression is great, however, it doesn’t really matter if I can just join a 5-star team. You do also earn money but it’s pretty much useless. There’s nothing to spend it on, no upgrades to speak of. It’s simply a gauge of how well you’re doing.
NASCAR Heat 2 does add a Rivals system to “Hot Seat” races which is a nice addition considering most of the older NASCAR games had this as well. It works as you might expect, if you slam into a certain driver too many times, they’re going to get mad and will go out of their way to take you out. You’ll receive some cool social media compliments on how clean you’re driving and some warnings if you aren’t. It’s a good step in the right direction for this series as I think that this is a huge part of NASCAR or any sport for that matter.
Beyond Career Mode, NASCAR Heat 2 still has a lot to offer, particularly for those that like to race with friends. Split-screen multiplayer is included in the game which is a rare commodity these games so I really appreciate it. All tracks are unlocked from the start so you can hop in with a friend without worrying about unlocking more tracks to play. 40-player online multiplayer also returns which is amazing. I can’t think of another online experience that is quite as incredible as 40 people online in NASCAR cars all fighting for first place.
There are 29 Challenges in NASCAR Heat 2 and they’re also all unlocked from the beginning which is nice. I hate when I get stuck on a challenge so it’s great to be able to move on and go back if I can’t complete one. Claire B. Lang of SiriusXM’s NASCAR radio introduces each track and scenario. If you complete the scenario a video of a driver giving you tips on how to race the course. Monster Games did a great job on these challenges and I really liked the presentation. They’re a nice diversion from the lengthy Career Mode.
The controls in the game are really precise and the AI can be pretty challenging no matter what difficulty setting you’re using. They slide into openings a lot easier and tend to block you at the last second when you think you’re about to slip by. I still got a few big leads when playing on the easier difficulty, but certainly not every race. You won’t get that same luxury on Expert where you have to be on your game every moment of the race. On Expert, you’ll definitely have to play with the stability control (which is new this year) to be able to have the speed to get 1st place. It just seems like it slows your car down a lot going into corners on certain tracks which can be the difference between 1st and 10th place.
My one main complaint about this game is a minor one. The licensed audio tracks in the main menu sound really bad. It sounds like the tracks came from a file-sharing website at low quality. I’ve never experienced this kind of an issue and after checking the audio settings, I couldn’t find any reason why it would sound like that. As I said, it’s a minor annoyance, but very noticeable to me. I had no other issues with the audio, just those licensed tracks.
As far as the visuals are concerned, I felt like NASCAR Heat 2 looked about as I’d expect for a NASCAR game. The cars don’t look as great as they could, but they’re not bad especially considering this game isn’t a $59.99 US game. The tracks look as good as their real-life counterparts. That’s about all that matters and I don’t have much else to add about the graphics.
NASCAR Heat 2 is a good next step for this series. You can see that Monster Games is starting to put their stamp on the game and slowly implementing new features. They included a nice amount of content here and I think NASCAR fans will be very happy with this game. I’d ideally like to see a bit more options in Career Mode as far as customization options and upgrades, but the racing is solid and any racing fan is going to enjoy the gameplay.
*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by 704games for review purposes*