Game Over Online ~ NASCAR Heat

GameOver Game Reviews - NASCAR Heat (c) Hasbro Interactive, Reviewed by - Cody Nicholson

Game & Publisher NASCAR Heat (c) Hasbro Interactive
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium II-233, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 78%
Date Published Tuesday, September 12th, 2000 at 09:10 PM

Divider Left By: Cody Nicholson Divider Right

The competition is heating up as the starting grid on the PC NASCAR circuit fills up. With Sierra and Electronic Arts already on the track, Hasbro Interactive has prepped their stock car for the big race. Although not without a few flaws, NASCAR Heat is a genuine racing experience that is both challenging and fun.

NASCAR Heat starts out of the grid slowly because it only features 27 official drivers from the NASCAR circuit. With a 43-car field, that means you'll see a number of fictional names throughout the leaderboard (although mostly at the bottom). Luckily, NASCAR Heat does offer every track on the Winston Cup circuit minus the elusive Pocono and Indianapolis. You'll be able to race just about every event from the 2000 NASCAR season with the exception of an omission or two.

There are four racing modes in NASCAR Heat: Single Race, Championship, Beat the Heat and Race the Pro. Beat the Heat is a unique series of challenges that also acts as a tutorial of sorts. In this mode, you'll be thrown in the cockpit at critical points of a race. For example, you might be thrown into the middle of the pack of a particular race with only a few remaining laps. The object of this challenge is to finish the race is the best possible position from that point. Your awarded cups based on your performance (Gold, Silver & Bronze), whereas receiving any one of these cups will unlock the next competition. This is a great mode for novice players looking to experience crucial moments of a NASCAR race. Race the Pro mode pits gamers against ghost cars of actual performances by various NASCAR racers. Both of these modes are certainly innovative and add a great deal to the overall NASCAR Heat package.

The Single Race mode allows players to jump right into the cockpit without worrying much about the intricacies of each race. Select the track, the number of laps and competitors, amongst other options, and you're ready to go. A little of the old in and out if you please. The Championship Mode allows you to race through an entire NASCAR season, running each of the tracks from the Winston Cup circuit. The Championship Mode tracks each of the races and the points awarded for each position, allowing you to simulate an entire NASCAR season.

Just about everything can be tweaked in the Championship Mode. If you're a novice player, you can turn off options such as pit stops and damage modeling so you can focus on the race itself. If you're a diehard NASCAR enthusiast, you can adjust everything from grille tape, sway bars and wedges, creating the ultimate NASCAR simulation. Unfortunately, some of these advanced options bring flaws with them. Damage modelling, for example, is horrible. Although it's been implemented, it takes quite the smash up to do any kind of damage to your vehicle, let alone vehicles around you. You can literally flip over and still continue the race, not to mention the good folks behind the event won't even bring out the caution flag. The bottom line, you really don't have to worry about wrecking your car because unless you purposely smash into oncoming traffic, you'll always be able to finish the race. I suppose the thinking behind the lacklustre damage modelling is to adhere to those learning the nuances of a stock car, but gamers looking for a true racing experience will be disappointed to say the least.

The best feature of NASCAR Heat is by far the graphics. With everything set on the highest detail, the visuals are absolutely stunning. The car models are dead on and every little detail has been taken into account. If you scrape your car against the wall, black marks will remain on the surface for the remainder of the race. The menu system is designed much like a browser, resulting in a very efficient and simple interface. Sky and other environmental textures are just about perfect and everything from shadows to logos has been incorporated into the game. With multiple camera perspectives and a great cockpit dash, NASCAR Heat is by far the prettiest looking NASCAR title to date. Unfortunately, the audio doesn't quite match the quality of the visuals. While the noise of the engine is quite realistic, other areas such as crowd noise have been neglected.

NASCAR Heat features support for force feedback steering wheels, and if you so happen to own one, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how real the game feels. Other methods of control include keyboard and joystick and all methods are fully customizable. If you get tired of computer opponents, you can jump online for races with up to 16 players over the Internet. The unfortunate thing is there's currently no matchmaking server set-up, making it extremely difficult to find other NASCAR drivers to race against.

While it doesn't dominate the race, NASCAR Heat offers a sound stock car racing experience. It caters to both arcade racers and diehard enthusiasts by way of the variety of racing modes, although fans looking for an accurate simulation might be deterred by the lack of realistic damage modelling. The lack of a matchmaking service surely will make racing against real-life opponents a little difficult but visually, the game is spectacular and with most of the licenses in place, NASCAR Heat is an enjoyable ride.


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