Friday, September 15, 2017

NASCAR Heat 2 Gameplay Review

I'm playing NASCAR Heat 2, a racing simulation by Monster Games and 704Games.

This year’s iteration includes all three major NASCAR series (Monster Energy, Xfinity, and Camping World Trucks); the lower two series are essentially slower versions of the Monster Energy cars with different vehicle models and drivers. 2017 race rules are in effect, with stage racing and the new points system. Beyond simple quick races, there are single championships for each series (including just playing the 10-race playoffs) and a career mode where you start out in the Truck series and work your way up. Challenges give scenarios on specific tracks with specific drivers and objectives, but there is no countdown timer for when control becomes manual, leading to a lot of crashes until the timing is memorized. A split-screen mode and online multiplayer are also available, but there are no tutorials or racing line to learn each track. NASCAR Heat 2 is clearly designed with consoles in mind, with simplified handling and abbreviated controls; in-game information is hard to come by, as gaps to the car in front or how many laps of fuel are remaining are impossible to find. In addition, race starts and pit stops are automated and cannot be manually controlled. The spotter is very inconsistent, sometimes ignoring surrounding cars or giving useless information. Car handling is very tight off the corner (possibly because I am accelerating too early), but can be slightly adjusted using the setup options. Damage (minor contact sometimes causes damage, but flipping over may not) and cautions (Single car wreck? Yellow. Multi-car wreck involving the player? No flag) are inconsistent. The AI isn’t quite up to par: while it doesn’t do anything outrageously terrible, computer drivers routinely ignore the player’s position when deciding to go three-wide into a corner (which happens frequently), and they recklessly dive into corners when given a little room at speeds far too fast than normal. NASCAR Heat 2 is an arcade racing game through and through, exchanging accessibility for realism and showing cracks in several areas.