NASCAR Heat 2 Review – Dirt Now Included

NASCAR Heat 2 is on the track and ready to run, but the question is should you fire up your engine or stay in the pits?

Read on to find out

In 2016 developers Monster Games and 704Games released NASCAR Heat Evolution to mediocre reviews due to the game’s barebones approach to the NASCAR racing genre and some folks called it a step backwards in the game’s evolution. The developer tried to correct some of those mistakes with the release of NASCAR Heat 2, addressing the barebones by adding in a bunch of bells and whistles, but was it enough to give a full experience?

This being a NASCAR game, we had to hit the track in a quick race to see how the game looked and felt as we raced around the track. The quick race has you choosing between the Monster Energy series with 41 drivers to choose from, the XFinity series with 43 drivers, or the truck based Camping World series with 33 drivers. You can also create your own custom vehicle for each type of race, just don’t expect to use your own name. Not sure why you can’t have your own name in the game, but at least you can decide which brand of vehicle you drive (Ford, Chevy, or Toyota) and your racer’s gender and overall look. Having our own name on the side of the car would have been nice.

Quick race settings allows you to adjust the AI’s difficulty and the percentage of the race you want to run, but as for the car all you can do is turn the stability and/or damage on and off. Career mode offers you a wide variety of settings you can change so why they aren’t offered here is baffling. You do have the choice of having a quick weekend or a full weekend by choosing to just qualify and race,  practice and qualify and race, or just choosing to race which will put you at the back of the pack. Once at the track and ready to run, there’s nothing you can change on the car, even after a few practice runs if you want to change the stability setting, you’ll have to exit out of the race to do so.

The graphics for the game are very underwhelming. They aren’t bad when you’re sitting still, but at 150MPH+ we ran into choppy graphics that just weren’t easy on the eyes. Speed blur is one thing, but this goes beyond just that. Maybe we’re spoiled by games like F1 2017, Project Cars or even the Gran Turismo Sport beta, but whatever the case we expected more from the graphics in this game and felt disappointed by it on a graphical level. The driving physics for the game were great, and cars and trucks handled as we thought they should on asphalt, and that is a definite plus. Once we dove into the career mode and started playing with the chassis and such, we started to understand how deep the physics went and how much the game has grown since its last release.

Career mode is improved from the last release, but it still left a little to be desired. There is still no build up of your character from lower racing types and that would have been a nice addition. That would give you an option to feel more connected to your driver, as it is your first season will have you sitting around waiting to see if any teams need someone to fill out their roster and offer you a hot seat in the next calendar race. Meet their goals and chances are they will probably offer you a permanent car for the next season. After a season of waiting for hot seat offers, getting a few full season offers is a welcome change. For those that want to just race for a championship without committing to a full season, you can take on the Monster Energy series playoffs. 

Oddly enough, any money you win along your journey just accumulates as there is nothing to spend it on. There’s no research and development to worry about, no tires to buy, no engines to rebuild, or no teams to hire. You are a driver and that is pretty much all you will be doing. Is that a bad thing? That depends on how deep you want your experience. If you are just looking to race, you are in the right place. If you are looking for a full racing development type system, head on over to F1 2017 as you won’t find one here.

One of the new additions for the game is a dirt track for the Camping World Series. Honestly, iof they would have us start out in mini-karts or even Outlaw cars on this track, the game would have been improved overall quite a bit. Dirt track racing is all about drifting through the corners and having a great line coming out, and the trucks would have been easier to control if we would have started out in a less powerful vehicle in order to learn the difference between asphalt racing and dirt track racing.

Developers Monster Games and 704Games built upon their last release and did add quite a bit to a game that was pretty barebones before. NASCAR Heat 2 isn’t the best racing game on the market, but it is a fun game for those that are looking for some NASCAR fun and familiar names.


NASCAR Heat 2 review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring, please read What our review scores really mean.