NASCAR games are not as common as other racing games such as the Forza and Need for Speed series, but their fan base is just as vocal and often times for a very good reason. Last year Monster Games introduced NASCAR Heat Evolution which was the first step in bringing a more modern NASCAR game to current consoles and the PC. This year, Monster Games and 704 Games are back with the sequel NASCAR Heat 2.
One of the biggest issues with the first title was the lack of a solid career mode. NASCAR Heat 2 resolves this a couple of different ways. The first is the welcome addition of the Xfinity Series and the Camping World Trucks Series to the game. Another way the career mode is improved is the addition of the “hot seat” driver. You start your career and are given opportunities to fill in on a Camping World Truck and try to prove your worth. Meeting the objective improves your chance for additional “hot seat” rides, which eventually lead you to an offer to join a team. Once on a team, you continue to work your way through each series on your way to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Series Cup. One downside to this new career mode is the inability to skip or sim a race. This can make progress seem like a long grind.
Racing on the track is a lot of fun. Cars are heavier and don’t spin with the slightest touch like the cars in NASCAR Heat Evolution. To give career races a little more pizazz, there is a rivalry system. Race someone a little too hard one too many times, and you could find yourself looking at the wall after being punted. Like last year’s release, NASCAR Heat 2 provides you a series of challenges for you to complete such as winning the race from 4th place with only 4 laps to go. These challenges are fun and some are quite difficult, so make sure you are on point with your driving.
Multiplayer in NASCAR Heat 2 has also been improved. You can field full 40 car races and if you don’t have enough players to join your race, you can now add AI cars to your race. AI in the game can be set to a specific value or if you are a novice driver such as myself, it can be set to adaptive. There is also a new local split-screen mode so you can race side by side with your friends or family and bring that intense feeling into your living room.
The graphics in NASCAR Heat 2 immerse you in the game as you race across the cracked pavement and all the other details you expect to see on a track. Lighting is also improved and gives an additional sense of immersion as you watch the shadows creep across the track over the course of the race. As with last year’s release, Monster Games will release additional paint schemes throughout the season both as paid DLC and free DLC.
NASCAR Heat 2 is available for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and on Steam for $49.99. The price may seem slightly high, but if you are a big NASCAR fan it’s well worth this investment. Pick it up and I’ll see you on the track!