STAFF REVIEW of NASCAR Heat 3 (Xbox One)

Friday, September 28, 2018.
by Kirsten Naughton

NASCAR Heat 3 Box art I have very fond memories of my childhood, watching drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Danica Patrick race around the track. I have not watched a NASCAR race in forever, so when I saw NASCAR Heat 3 needed reviewing, I wanted it badly to reminisce. While I do not claim to be a professional console raceer, I did have a blast playing NASCAR Heat 3. For the amount of content, player and track selection included within Nascar Heat 3, I feel that there is a great deal of value in the game.

If you've never heard of NASCAR game series, you've been living under a rock. But seriously, it is a racing sport. There are six different modes in that you can choose from: Quick Race, Split Screen (requires two players), Championship, Challenges, Career and Multiplayer.

Quick Race is where you basically have freedom to choose your series, track and your driver, much like Casual Play in other games. Split Screen is where you and a friend can play a race together and Championship is essentially racing until you achieve the trophy at the end. Career is where you select your series, your character, sponsors and you're pretty much off to the races (pun intended).

The first mode that I absolutely fell in love with was the Career mode. Now, as many of you may already know, I love progressing through career modes and story modes. That's one of the main reasons why I love video games, as they give me a sense of achievement. While I am not very good at being the next Danica Patrick, I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout, even though I didn't win many races and didn't get much prize money.

I'm the racer that usually is found driving alongside the wall, versus down on the track, and the one whom instead of slowing down on the turns, goes full throttle into the wall. I don't usually play racing games to win every race, as long as I'm enjoying myself doing so. I'm sure there must be gamers out there like me who just like playing them for the pure fun of it. Whether you're a seasoned racing game console player, a brand new one, or something in between like me, NASCAR Heat 3 is a fun game for you to try.

The second mode that I enjoyed was the Challenges. Challenges is a unique spin that I've yet to experience in any other sport game on a console, where you are put into a certain scenario and the goal generally is to reign victorious in the race in a specific way. For example, you are driving on Lap 12 but there was a huge crash, so you'll need to maneuver within the chaos of all the cars being scattered all over the track and need to get first place. Now, like with Career mode, I am not very good at these either, but again, I found enjoyment of at least trying to succeed at the challenge. It is exciting to see the amount of effort being put into NASCAR Heat 3 and all of the options available. They aren't just concerned with developing a normal racing game with normal modes; they raised the bar.

The amount of characters given from the start is impressive, as I honestly didn't know what to expect when I first started my engines. I have to be honest, 10-15 years ago I only really knew of a handful of drivers in NASCAR, some of which I have mentioned briefly before, but it's nice to know that they made the effort to have a variety of real life drivers. There are so many fantastic drivers in NASCAR and it is worth to note that as you change the series, so do the drivers. The tracks provided in Nascar Heat 3 are far beyond my expectations. I had a thought that maybe the tracks would unlock through gameplay in career mode, but I was surprisingly thrilled to find about 30 plus tracks in each of the series. If you ask me, my all time favourite track is Talladega, with Daytona as a close second. I appreciate the realism put into the atmosphere in the tracks and although I haven't seen all of the tracks yet, I looked up about 20 of them, and they were portrayed perfectly.

The overall gameplay experience was pretty average honestly, as you race around a track and try to be first. The music is upbeat and tries to keep you entertained, but there's only so much a developer can do to make racing around a track exciting. I felt that the camera was a little off, as you would hit the Left Trigger, thinking that maybe that is the reverse gear or brakes, only to find out it's actually the camera view button. While in camera view, I seems glitchy and does not give you a stable camera. It's not a dealbreaker, but I found this irritating.

The only other small negative I have, and something I'd like you to keep in your mind is that if you jump right into the races without changing the settings, they will be set to the default. Now, some may be confused as to why I am bringing this up. Well, while playing my first race, I noticed that when I crashed my car directly into a wall, there was no damage. I would turn the corner and automatically the game would assist me in taking navigating it. While I appreciate the help, there is no tutorial on the first race you play. You are literally thrown into a race after given the car keys, and you're full throttle going around a race track.

As a gamer, I understand the idea of pressing one of the face buttons, hitting the Right Trigger and trying your best not to hit every single wall while you go around the track, but with a game like NASCAR Heat 3 that has settings that impact the damage, AI difficulty and the suspension settings, I would expect to be taught how to at least tweak the settings to my play style. But honestly, this is a nit pick, as I can't find very much other major negative feedback regarding regarding my time with Nascar Heat 3.

With a couple small personal preference issues, I still believe that NASCAR Heat 3 is a fairly solid game. Is it perfect? No game is. With the sheer amount of content, modes, and overall experience while in gameplay, I would have no issue recommending this game to someone if you're a fan of the sport. If you want a fun racing game that you can just sit back, relax, drink a beer or two and race, this is the game for you. 3... 2... 1... Race!

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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