NASCAR Heat 2 needs to deliver to regain any confidence gaming fans have left before its release September 12.

Racing and gaming go hand in hand when executed properly. It seems NASCAR gaming developers hasn’t produced the ideal game since its previous developers, EA Sports and Papyrus lost their rights of making NASCAR games.

Poor damage models, lack of features and heinous online experience has become common complaints fans had on NASCAR games this decade.

It’s quite sad the sport I’m passionate about hasn’t hit a home run in console games like Codemasters has done with Formula One.

704Games announced Monday NASCAR Heat 2 will be released Sept. 12 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.

The game is expected to witness an overhaul to please online gamers and provide upgrades on features it lacked from its predecessor, NASCAR Heat Evolution.

For starters, the game was a fresh nostalgia because of the old engine sound from the older NASCAR Heat games but fans bashed the sounding. This is where the problem begins, details.

Personally, I enjoyed playing the game except I’ve always battled a super tight car or whenever I made changes, I struggled to stay on pace with other drivers on certain tracks. This flaw lead me back playing older games more than NHE.

Although I’m glad there will be another NASCAR game this year, the announcement left me thinking about the NASCAR gaming community.

They’re the toughest critics because they have a strong standard and compared any NASCAR game to NASCAR Dirt to Daytona (Monster Games), NASCAR Thunder 2004 (EA Sports) or NASCAR Racing 2003 Season (Papyrus).

Those three games have been arguably viewed as the “end-all-be-all” of NASCAR gaming. Any flaw will face massive backlash towards the developers.

Those games came out over a decade ago, their legacies are cemented but does these standards caused a concern for 704Games where it must exceed expectations or fans will begin begging for another developer to conquer NASCAR?

This was a similar problem fans endured with Eutechnyx where they wanted another developer such as EA Sports or Monster Games to make a new NASCAR game. They got their wish with Monster Games, now known as 704Games, but people quickly turned their backs on them because of how disappointing NHE was last year.

NHE has been considered by many fans the worst NASCAR game ever made, out beating older titles year after year. Some have gone further saying Eutechnyx made better games than the same developers who created NASCAR Dirt to Daytona 15 years ago.

This statement I’ll never agree with because Eutechnyx left a lot on the table after fans demanded change each year. The driving had its share of flaws but what irritated me about their games was Eutechnyx selling themselves short on capturing the true NASCAR experience.

It felt like they didn’t put much effort on the littlest things like adding team sponsors or car numbers on their pit stalls or fixing game glitches such as driving through another car online like they’re a ghost.

The soundboards at times doesn’t fit the situation such as exiting pit road when your crew chief says, “cut tire, cut tire, I told you.” I’m like, ‘I just exited pit road you donkey. I’m not listening.’

We’re in an era where graphics has outshined details, although the graphics are decent but I’m not playing the game for aesthetics, I want a replayable game. Grand Theft Auto fans can attest to this statement when comparing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto V. Details bring a game to life and become a part of their universe.

Older NASCAR games went far and beyond to make the racing experience stand out that’s since been used in other games like F1 2016 with its detailed career mode where performance means everything.

EA Sports had replayability by accomplishing tasks required and allowed the gamer to control their career with features such as buying a race team (ex. NASCAR 2005 Chase for the Cup) or upgrading for high quality equipment to make their cars go faster (ex. NASCAR Thunder 2004).

Eutechnyx had a decent career mode but not enough to keep a player on the feature long-term. EA Sports allowed a player 20 years to make their mark in NASCAR through its season and career mode, rare in today’s gaming.

Don’t get me started with the damage model or hit detection, they are the bane of racing game’s existence. The damage was garbage, you can take a hard hit into the wall at speeds over 200 mph and the damage doesn’t replicate the impact.

When looking at the damage, it’s like a driver hitting someone on pit road before the start of the race rather than taking the car and destroying it on a crash course.

I’m not saying NHE isn’t any better because the damage was subpar. Both games are comparable when discussing damage models but I hope 704Games can capitalize this problem in NASCAR Heat 2.

Look at the older games prior to the seventh generation of gaming consoles (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360), those are realistic damages. EA Sports, Papyrus and Monster Games did a nice job replicating car damage where debris fly off a car and may stay at the track to bring out a debris caution. A far cry from today’s gaming.

In NASCAR ’15, well any Eutechnyx NASCAR game for that matter, attempting to get revenge on a driver is harder than successfully flying through rings on Superman 64. The cars are like bricks, hard to destruct.

NHE did a better job on making the impact on another car easier but not the same as NR2003 or Dirt to Daytona. Those two games I’ve mentioned, one bump and they’re out of control. Sure, the AI saves the car but like in real life, they will react negatively.

Eutechnyx is the modern day LJN, play one mediocre developed game, you’ve played them all.

Let’s jump into the flaws 704Games had in detail, beginning with creativity and replayability.

Those two were the biggest problems that won’t keep a NASCAR fan playing year-round.

NHE didn’t have any post-race celebration like it’s last two official licenses (Eutechnyx and EA Sports). Instead a player sees a rotating trophy to stare at for a few seconds and then sends you to the race results.

NASCAR ’15 also had a paint booth where I’ve seen nice replications of paint schemes not included in the game. Online players can use their custom car and compete in leagues. NHE didn’t have those options and left creative fans disappointed.

704Games didn’t go into detail on what new features will be included Monday but a paint booth and the ability to run a custom car online will be a nice return to the game.

Those features will make the lackluster career mode replayable because creativity allowed a player to use their imagination of being a NASCAR driver.

The developers should attempt to make it possible because driving a pre-set paint scheme that only changes when choosing the sponsor is dull. It doesn’t help when the only thing a player can control is what to buy, picking the right setup and make sponsorship decisions. It’ll get old after awhile and soon enough, play another game.

At the end of the day, the game as others would say isn’t worth $59.99 but it’s out of the developers control. Nothing can be done to make it cheaper to represent the quality of the game.

It’s worse for those who spend several dollars buying DLCs to get the complete in-game experience.

The DLCs are simply additional drivers, challenges, spotter packs and paints schemes drivers drove throughout the season. Some see it as too much and wish they added it to the game like EA Sports did beginning with NASCAR Thunder 2002.

One perk I enjoyed about NHE was when a pack of paint schemes is downloaded, the special paint schemes take place in the tracks they ran it.

For example, the throwback cars are run only at Darlington like they did in real life. A definite one-up over EA Sports because special paint schemes are run at random (ex. Jeff Gordon’s Looney Tunes car being run at the Daytona 500 instead of the Chevy Monte Carlo 400).

I’m glad 704Games did that little detail of putting the AI’s special schemes at the races it raced.

At the same time, DLCs has also eliminated some of the challenges hard-working gamers used to dealt with in older games.

Remember when you had to earn the schemes in the game like “Lightning Challenge?” That’s what I miss about video games, the ability to lock items and feel proud dealing with the grind of obtaining a new item.

The way the gaming industry works these days, it’s time to move on. Locked items have become a thing of the past. Money rules gaming now and no signs of slowing down.

With those intricate features not included in NHE, I see people’s complaints but I believe in second chances.

704Games gave it their best for its first game back since 2002 but fans are fed up with the flaws. Now in their second year, it’s fair to say give them a chance to bounce back and wait until September to judge.

From what I’ve seen, they’re doing their best developing a good game. The sequel should be better if they don’t repeat the same mistakes Eutechnyx did.

Unfortunately, I know people who said they’re not getting the game because of how “bad” NHE was. This puts 704Games already under the microscope where they must satisfy NASCAR fans.

Restoring any hope for a good console game that isn’t downloaded from a third party (NR2003) or subscription-based (iRacing) seems a bit of a stretch.

Be patient and stay tuned for future announcements before jumping the gun by saying “this game sucks” before it hits the shelves or become available to digitally download.

Published by Luis Torres

University of Idaho graduate that's currently pursuing the dream of becoming a motorsports media personnel.

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