NASCAR Heat is back and in a big way. 704 Game’s sequel to the original game brings a ton more action to the track this time round compared to last year’s lackluster predecessor. At a time when the sport of NASCAR is saying goodbye to popular drivers and top contenders the likes of Danica Patrick, Matt Kenseth, and fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr., race followers really need something to hang their hats on. NASCAR Heat 2 delivers in a number of ways.
Right out of the gates the biggest attraction is having all three racing series in the package with this installment. Monster Energy, Xfinity, and the Camping World series are all there, together, as they always should have been. What this ultimately adds up to is one of the largest roster of real-life drivers to choose from ever in a NASCAR game coupled with a host of new tracks, driving experiences, and plenty of racing including dirt track exhibition at Eldora!
It’s also not hard to see how much more polished things look. 704 Games really stepped things up delivering crisp visuals spanning from amazing attention to track detail on down to authentic paint schemes and sponsorship lettering for all your favorite driver’s rides.
All of the driver’s artificial intelligence are respectably good in Heat 2. Expect your rivals to challenge you at nearly every turn and take advantage of your mistakes on the track as you race for the win. This much welcomed change really adds more excitement to things and may occasionally produce some sweaty palms racing, even for veterans of the track, from time to time.
Career mode has been drastically revamped placing players in the role of a rookie “Hot Seat” driver looking for their big break after receiving a special call from NASCAR veteran, Brad Keselowski with an opportunity to show up and prove yourself on the track. You’ll start at the bottom and race your way up through all three circuits gaining notoriety and unlocking a number of exclusive career opportunities with various race teams.
For those looking for quality track time with their favorite driver, Championship is the mode for you. Here you can race a full season representing your favorite camp in any of the three-racing series or jump right into the “chase experience” of the Monster Energy Circuit.
The game also ships with a cool “Challenge” mode where you can turn back the hands of time to re-write history and re-live some epic race moments.
The multiplayer aspect of the game is super-solid as well bringing back the good ole days of split-screen racing with family and friends or racing globally across competitive online lobbies.
Though Heat 2 primarily has a lot of things going for it there are still a few areas that could some improving. For starters, tire-wear doesn’t play nearly as huge factor in the game as it did in year’s past, taking a little bit of from your gameplay experience. And you also won’t be given opportunity for post-race victory “burnouts” should you find yourself in winner’s circle. It might also be worth mentioning that while you’re able to stack some serious money in career mode, you won’t be able to put your earnings toward anything useful like new paint jobs or other customization opportunities. That said, these are things that could be patched in down the road or should definitely make it into the next installment. Hint, hint 704 games.
Overall, though, NASCAR Heat 2 is a solid racer delivering nearly the complete race experience for any fan of the series. It is no doubt tons improved over it’s questionable predecessor and if you are by chance one of the few who actually enjoyed the original game well this one should easily knock your socks off. Even minus a few notable setbacks, Heat 2 does a lot of things right earning itself a top spot in the winner’s circle here at GiN. We give this one a solid 4 out of 5 GiN gems.