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OS Scores Explained NASCAR Heat Evolution Overview (Xbox One)
Pros
Driving model is fantastic; AI is competent and competitive, Career mode is deep and exciting.
Cons
Presentation is lacking, Short on depth, FPS struggle at times on the track.
Bottom Line
NASCAR Heat definitely delivers a fun and authentic on-track experience but fails to totally capture the NASCAR weekend experience.
6.5
out of 10
NASCAR Heat Evolution REVIEW

NASCAR Heat Evolution Review (Xbox One)

It’s not an exaggeration to say NASCAR fans have been waiting for over a decade for the next great stock car simulation, and while patience is a virtue, it also has its limitations. So, fair or not, the amount of pressure that has been thrust upon the newest licensed NASCAR video game and its developer is already incredibly high because of the years of disappointment that fans of the sport have been forced to endure.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the developer that has taken on the somewhat monumental feat of creating the next great NASCAR game has been here before. Monster Games, the former developer of NASCAR Heat and NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona has thrown its hat into the ring again, this time with NASCAR Heat Evolution. Do they succeed in capturing the authenticity and excitement that their previous attempts did? Read on to find out.

Gameplay

Creating a genuine NASCAR experience on the track is not the easiest of tasks as there are multiple variables involved, and if one component of the equation is off, it can truly ruin the whole dynamic. When trying to replicate what one sees and feels on a Sunday afternoon, you have to take into consideration the physics of the user's car, the AI coherency on the track, the AI competitiveness and understanding, and mesh that together in a fashion that harmoniously works.

Thankfully the developers of NASCAR Heat Evolution have done just that by faithfully re-creating what we as fans see on any given weekend. The driving model that has been created by Monster Games is as good, if not better than, anything console fans have seen before -- regardless what era you grew up playing NASCAR games on consoles. Push your car too hard, you are going to find yourself out of the track's natural groove(s), and your tires will fall off at a much more rapid pace. Slow the pace down to easily stay on your desired groove, and the AI will blow by you and take advantage of your inability to hit your marks. It is absolutely imperative that you find the correct groove at each track that allows you to hit your lift and acceleration marks consistently.

Understanding how to hit your points on each track is incredibly important to the user, but just as important is who is racing beside you. If you spend a lot of time offline racing against the AI, you are in luck with NASCAR Heat Evolution. The game provides well developed AI experiences with digital opponents who will take advantage of your shortcomings in any way possible. Now, please don’t confuse aggressive with cheap and dirty, because the AI opponents in NASCAR HE are not that. They are smart, competitive and lurk while waiting for you to make a mistake.

That being said, the AI also makes mistakes, and it’s incumbent upon you to take advantage of their issues. It is a game of cat and mouse throughout the race, and sometimes you win and sometimes they do, which is a good thing. On top of the stellar interaction with the AI at default, the game allows you to change the difficulty of the opponent at each track to your liking in “race now” mode, so you can set up the type of challenge you want at each and every licensed venue in the game.


Career Mode

For many, this is going to be the mode where they spend the majority of their time, and NASCAR HE provides a deep and fun career mode experience. You will find yourself as a young up and coming driver who is trying to earn his way. As a rookie, you will start with no sponsor but will be given the chance to impress based on how you perform over the course of a few races. Depending on how you do in those races, certain sponsors will want to sponsor you, both as primary and secondary sponsors.

Not only will the sponsorship appear on your car, there is a monetary gain as well. Depending on how well you perform during each race weekend, you will allocate a certain amount of winnings that you apply back into your business -- the business of racing. You will need to build your facility and shops, and once those are built, you then have to sink your winnings back into improving and upgrading your car, teams and facility. Make no mistake about it, this takes time. And depending on what difficulty you are playing on, it can take you up to three to four years to become a top-notch racing team with access to the best equipment. The good news is that as you improve, your sponsorship does too, and of course your ability to earn more each weekend increases as well.

The presentation and immersion is lacking in career mode. You only get a few messages from the team owner, and an occasional tweet from a fellow driver. However, the overall excitement of learning you have earned enough to upgrade to the next level of ability in research and development is completely addicting.

You can set the race distance as low as two percent of the actual race length, or if you are into the “grind it out” type of mindset, set it all the way to 100 percent of the actual race length. So the game allows you to set the pace and length of how long you want it to take to become the next Joe Gibbs or Rick Hendrick Racing. What I found to be so compelling about career mode is that you feel the ups and downs of each and every weekend. There's excitement when you crack the top five, and there is anguish when you wreck -- you feel it all.

You will also find a certain amount of success at certain tracks even with an under-developed car, and have tracks that will absolutely beat you down and make you want to find an office job. In the end though, career mode in NASCAR HE is a deep, exciting and emotional experience. It's one that should not be overlooked, even with its shortcomings in the presentation department.

Presentation

If you have watched even the smallest bit of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing in real life, then you know full well the spectacle a NASCAR weekend provides. Massive crowds, fireworks, banners and flags, pre-race concerts, driver introductions and more. While many will consider this “fluff” and want to hurry past it, it is this type of presentation that brings the immersion factor to a crescendo. Sadly, while NASCAR HE does provide a quick weekend synopsis before each race in career mode, that is where the weekend excitement ends.

While you find over 40 different licensed drivers and every single track that is on the Cup circuit in the game, you will find no flyovers, no pre-race national anthem, no pit-road gatherings and no driver introductions. In fact, the game does not allow users to even celebrate their victory with a burn-out or manually enter Victory Lane because...there is no Victory Lane scene after a win.

If you win, you will simply get a short message from your spotter conveying a quick congratulations, and then you move onto the next race. What limited presentation that is there is handled with care, such as the NBC logo implementation, and the quick videos and history of the track before each race. Hopefully in future iterations the development team finds a way to add more to match what fans see during a real weekend, but keep it quick hitting and always moving forward.

Online

Although the options to race online are extremely limited, what is actually offered runs extremely well and is easy to navigate. NASCAR HE keeps it pretty simple with three types of lobbies: private, normal and no rules. The names of each lobby and what each offer are straight forward. There were not many people available to race at the time of this review, but I did get the chance to race online in 10 or so races. Every single one was smooth, easy to join, and I was able to move to the next race after the current one had finished.

The game allows up to 40 people in a single race, and while that option is amazing, the chances are strong that you will find a nice balance of racing, fun and stability on track with a number more around 12-15 -- maybe 20 if you are part of a legitimate league with drivers who know what they are doing. It would have been nice to see a bit more robust lineup of online modes, but what is there has worked really well in my experiences.

Final Thoughts

There is no denying the excitement, fun and on-track authenticity that NASCAR Heat Evolution brings in its first iteration, and for that reason alone fans of the sport should find a way to enjoy this year-one effort from Monster Games and Dusenberry Martin racing. That being said, the lack of presentation, track atmosphere and technical accessibility do hold it back. However, the racing and accompanying AI are very solid, and they are reasons why NASCAR HE should be in your rotation if you are a racing fan. The developers have created a solid foundation for the fan base to enjoy for years to come. While it’s a pretty thin in some areas, the game offers an extremely fun career mode and gets it right when you're in control on the track.

Score: 6.5 (Above Average)


Member Comments
# 1 NYJin2011tm @ 09/14/16 02:49 PM
Seeing and hearing all these negative things about it had me leery. But after reading this review I'm sold. All I care about is gameplay/career mode. I don't play online/don't care about presentation all that much. So I'm going to get it. Thanks.
 
# 2 Stormyhog @ 09/14/16 03:25 PM
Yeah if you can look past the lack of presentation I think most could have fun with it. I may get it at some point just busy with so many other games. Plus F1 has my attention when it comes to driving games at the moment.
 
# 3 mdiggitydawg @ 09/14/16 03:51 PM
My question though is regarding some of the seemingly major issues/bugs people are citing in the Impressions thread, such as being able to blow away the AI on big tracks like Daytona, or not being able to touch the breaks without heading into the wall. I had it pre ordered, but haven't yet picked up...so on the fence because I love a good NASCAR game, but don't love spending $66.00 for something incomplete...How many hours did you get to play before writing this review? I guess 6.5 is a pretty honest rating though, which to me is usually not worth spending the money.
 
# 4 mdiggitydawg @ 09/14/16 03:57 PM
in fact, the biggest problem which is not mentioned in this review is the frame rate, or lack there of...

http://cheatcc.com/ps4/rev/nascarheatevolutionreview.html

anyone else seeing the same?
 
# 5 bluengold34_OS @ 09/14/16 04:30 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdiggitydawg
in fact, the biggest problem which is not mentioned in this review is the frame rate, or lack there of...

http://cheatcc.com/ps4/rev/nascarhea...ionreview.html

anyone else seeing the same?
FPS is listed in the "Cons" of the review
 
# 6 jway44 @ 09/14/16 04:48 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdiggitydawg
in fact, the biggest problem which is not mentioned in this review is the frame rate, or lack there of...

http://cheatcc.com/ps4/rev/nascarhea...ionreview.html

anyone else seeing the same?
At times, the whole game just freezes for 3-5 seconds. You can hear the race going on, but the screen is frozen. More times than not, when it comes back, you are either in the wall or up against a bother car. If they fix this, I can find a lot to like in the game, even though it is nowhere near the quality of F1. It could still be really fun if they clean up a few of these small things.

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
 
# 7 bluengold34_OS @ 09/14/16 05:04 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by jway44
At times, the whole game just freezes for 3-5 seconds. You can hear the race going on, but the screen is frozen. More times than not, when it comes back, you are either in the wall or up against a bother car. If they fix this, I can find a lot to like in the game, even though it is nowhere near the quality of F1. It could still be really fun if they clean up a few of these small things.

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk


Damn - I have not experienced anything like that on either the PS4 or PC version - just a small bit slow down when there is smoke or an accident


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 
# 8 Mo @ 09/14/16 05:06 PM
i havent either yet.(XB1)
 
# 9 Jason6017 @ 09/14/16 06:44 PM
Sounds like this will be a good pickup when it hits the 30 dollar price point.
 
# 10 jway44 @ 09/14/16 07:03 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluengold34_OS
Damn - I have not experienced anything like that on either the PS4 or PC version - just a small bit slow down when there is smoke or an accident


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
I'm on Xbox one. And when it happens it happens badly. I started a full season and after completing Daytona on 25 percent race length, I am hooked. The AIT and drafting was so much fun. Ended up finishing 7th after being caught in the pits during a yellow flag which caused me to restart in 25th place with about 5 laps to go. If they will please, please fix the stuttering of the frame rate. I am really starting to like this game the more I play it. I'm currently getting ready to qualify and then race at Atlanta. Wish me luck.

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# 11 bravesfan1984 @ 09/14/16 07:41 PM
Got to spend all evening unlocking tracks, etc. and have to say I'm having a blast! Still running arcade mode until I get my racing skills back up to par but the AI is incredible. That alone is worth the price. Slowly increasing the difficulty too. What is everyone else running as far as difficulty?
 
# 12 tha620hawk @ 09/14/16 08:19 PM
I'm wondering how this handles with a controller. Past games have pretty much forced you to use a wheel unless you want a jerky car

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# 13 jway44 @ 09/14/16 08:30 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by bravesfan1984
Got to spend all evening unlocking tracks, etc. and have to say I'm having a blast! Still running arcade mode until I get my racing skills back up to par but the AI is incredible. That alone is worth the price. Slowly increasing the difficulty too. What is everyone else running as far as difficulty?
I'm at +2 and finding the racing very competitive. Just finished 81 laps at Atlanta and finished 12th after running out of gas on the last lap while in 7th place. What an exciting race. Loving this the more I play. It is pretty darn good, minus the frame rate issues.

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
 
# 14 jway44 @ 09/14/16 08:31 PM
Also have completed 5 of the challenges and each one is more fun. Holy cow, Bristol. That's all I can say about that. 😎😎

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# 15 Turbojugend @ 09/14/16 10:48 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by tha620hawk
I'm wondering how this handles with a controller. Past games have pretty much forced you to use a wheel unless you want a jerky car
It actually handles well with a controller, maybe a little too well. It's fairly difficult to under/oversteer and you can practically race full throttle (full trigger?) on tracks like Atlanta and Autoclub.
 
# 16 SECElit3 @ 09/15/16 06:16 AM
I spent a few hours with the game first night of release. I have mixed feelings about it. The graphics are the first thing that stand out to me as being sub-par in comparison with other NexGen games. I hope they can find a way to boost the Frame rate because 30 frames per second just doesn't get it in this day and age. The racing is great! I run simulation settings, full damage, and all flags.my biggest complaint with this game is that the physics seem off. The cars don't feel like they have any weight to them, and it seemed like the fastest way around the track was to coast through the turn. I didn't have to use my brake at all. Presentation is also lacking. Overall, it's solid for a first release from this developer, but there is a lot of room for improvement. I don't see it worth a AAA price tag. However, if you like NASCAR, and you can find it on black Friday or for around $30, it's a pretty good buy.

If I had the score this game on a 1-10 scale in its current state, I would give it a 5.5.


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# 17 rcp225 @ 09/15/16 08:35 AM
I have no idea what game other people are playin', but I have both PS4 and XB1 versions and to me the graphics are beautiful and the framerate is smooth as glass. Ya want nicer graphics and 64 fps, then go spend your big bucks on a power-house pc. And BTW, most framerate issues I'm hearin' are on the pc version, not the consoles. Now here's something I really don't get - a lot of people like me have said their favorite console nascar game was Nascar: Dirt to Daytona. Why was it (IMO) the best? Because for once the AI drivers were competent and competitive. NHE does it one better. You take the wrong line going into a turn at Kansas and your toast...the AI drivers will fly right by. You lose the draft going down a straightaway at Daytona or Talladega
and (depending on the difficulty mode your playin' on), you're probably not gonna catch the pack up ahead.
Nascar 15 was a joke. You start the race at the back of the pack, and in 2 or 3 laps you zoom past everyone. No blocking, no real drafting and most of all, you were never really punished for every little mistake. Most other nascar console games were sadly the same. For once, here's a game that got it right, or at the very least is headed in the right direction (no pun intended). That very fact should be celebrated. The rest of the bells and whistles that we'd all love to see will come. While I agree for the most part with this review, he mentions the AI drivers like it was a side note. A 6.5...really? The AI is not just an integral part of a nascar game, it's everything.
I believe Monster Games wants to get it right. I believe they will strive to improve the game in every way possible. As usual and as with most game releases. there are gamers out who literally can't wait to prove their manhood by trashin' the game. These same gearheads, mind you, have never sat in or drove a real nascar at 190 mph. Yet, somehow they're the ulimate expert on car physics. A quote will go something like this, "This game sucks. I Race sim mode on the highest difficulty setting and win every race by 10 seconds". Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it, you're the 2nd coming of Richard Petty. It is absolutely nausiating.
 
# 18 jway44 @ 09/15/16 09:06 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcp225
I have no idea what game other people are playin', but I have both PS4 and XB1 versions and to me the graphics are beautiful and the framerate is smooth as glass. Ya want nicer graphics and 64 fps, then go spend your big bucks on a power-house pc. And BTW, most framerate issues I'm hearin' are on the pc version, not the consoles. Now here's something I really don't get - a lot of people like me have said their favorite console nascar game was Nascar: Dirt to Daytona. Why was it (IMO) the best? Because for once the AI drivers were competent and competitive. NHE does it one better. You take the wrong line going into a turn at Kansas and your toast...the AI drivers will fly right by. You lose the draft going down a straightaway at Daytona or Talladega
and (depending on the difficulty mode your playin' on), you're probably not gonna catch the pack up ahead.
Nascar 15 was a joke. You start the race at the back of the pack, and in 2 or 3 laps you zoom past everyone. No blocking, no real drafting and most of all, you were never really punished for every little mistake. Most other nascar console games were sadly the same. For once, here's a game that got it right, or at the very least is headed in the right direction (no pun intended). That very fact should be celebrated. The rest of the bells and whistles that we'd all love to see will come. While I agree for the most part with this review, he mentions the AI drivers like it was a side note. A 6.5...really? The AI is not just an integral part of a nascar game, it's everything.
I believe Monster Games wants to get it right. I believe they will strive to improve the game in every way possible. As usual and as with most game releases. there are gamers out who literally can't wait to prove their manhood by trashin' the game. These same gearheads, mind you, have never sat in or drove a real nascar at 190 mph. Yet, somehow they're the ulimate expert on car physics. A quote will go something like this, "This game sucks. I Race sim mode on the highest difficulty setting and win every race by 10 seconds". Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it, you're the 2nd coming of Richard Petty. It is absolutely nausiating.
We can definitely agree that the AI is awesome. However, the Xbox one graphic stuttering is atrocious. And you can see many videos that attest to such. Frame rate is the biggest complaint with this game. At times, it is ok. Other times, it freezes to a complete halt. If the game moved at a steady playable frame rate, I could get past the issues of it being a bare bones experience. I love the AI, and I love running long events with pit stops and all flags on. They did a decent job with a first effort game and we need to support the developer, but don't try to ignore the fact that the graphics are very subpar for this generation of consoles.

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
 
# 19 themetallikid @ 09/15/16 09:29 AM
Is there something in the settings that can be turned off to improve the framerate issues? I would rather have a smooth experience than whatever bell or whistle is causing the slow down.

I know sometimes you can turn something off to fix that. My copy shows up today or tomorrow...so just thinking out loud...well...thinking via typing.
 
# 20 rcp225 @ 09/15/16 09:50 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by jway44
We can definitely agree that the AI is awesome. However, the Xbox one graphic stuttering is atrocious. And you can see many videos that attest to such. Frame rate is the biggest complaint with this game. At times, it is ok. Other times, it freezes to a complete halt. If the game moved at a steady playable frame rate, I could get past the issues of it being a bare bones experience. I love the AI, and I love running long events with pit stops and all flags on. They did a decent job with a first effort game and we need to support the developer, but don't try to ignore the fact that the graphics are very subpar for this generation of consoles.

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
As far as the graphics go, let's just agree to disagree. For every Youtube video or review I've seen, it's probably 50-50. Some are saying the graphics are great, while others are saying it's disappointing. As for me, I don't really play a lot of racing games on PS4 or XB1, so I don't have much to compare it to. But, I'll give ya this - compared to project cars, and some of the other racers, I would agree, the cars and surroundings are not nearly as stunning...and I can understand some of the disappointment. As far as XB1 framerates, I have been playing nonstop and so far I haven't had any issues like slowdown or freeze-ups. I don't know why but I'm being honest here. But, from one gamer to another, I know you're not making it up either. So I guess sooner or later, I'll see the framerate issues you're talkin' about. Let's just hope the developers support the game and continue to make improvements. One thing is for sure, I love the actual racing so far, but there are definitely several areas that could use some work. I heard the online racing is horrific. Have you tried it yet?
 

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