Review: NASCAR Heat 5 (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: NASCAR Heat 5
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (16.79 GB)
Release Date: July 10, 2020
Publisher: 704Games
Developer: 704Games
Original MSRP: $49.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: E
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
So here is a little family secret to start off this review. I come from a long line of racers, and I’m talking NASCAR sponsored series racers. Starting with my grandparents to my aunts, uncles and cousins. But the racing bug did not bite me; it completely passed me over. I lovingly refer to NASCAR as the “left hand turn simulator”.

So what am I doing reviewing NASCAR Heat 5 you ask? Well it’s good for us reviewers to broaden our horizons and try games out of our comfort zones. I understand the sport of racing, from drifting to tire wear, I just don’t care for it. But here I am, willing to alter my perception of NASCAR racing. And, I must admit, I did a little bit. Which, if you know me, is an accomplishment.

So, I will start with My Career, which is probably the biggest mode next to multiplayer. The purpose of My Career is to bring your driver to the finish line and find racing glory. You start off with either choosing a preset character or creating your own. The choices are plentiful and you can do a bit with it. I was not able to find an option to create a woman though, although there were options like makeup and ponytails, and woman drivers are in the game.

You start out as a Hot Seat driver, which is sort of a fill in driver. But soon you will be able to either drive for a team full time or start your own team. This is a big choice because either you focus on just driving or you do everything by running your own team. There is a bit you can do with running your own team by hiring your crew and buying your cars, etc. While this sounds great the application falls a little bit. You don’t have many choices when it comes to cars are crew.

Also when it comes to preparing or fixing your car, it’s just simple choices, nothing goes in-depth. I would like to see more of an RPG element to this to really beef it up. You can do a lot more when it comes to training, or buying cars. Also there was no prepping for upcoming races, which I know happens in real life.

On to the racing. It’s pretty solid and fun, a pretty tight experience overall. My initial instinct was to push the pedal to the metal. However, you will lose the rear end if you go too fast around the corner. The game teaches you with practice laps and the use of driving aids. By the end of my first season I was using my breaks or easing up on the gas like a pro.

One of my other gripes is there were no penalties for hitting people. You can totally drive around the track like a jerk with no consequences. If you’re driving badly enough, other drivers will “tweet” at you. If they’re angry enough, they will become your rival. In theory, this is supposed to follow into a race, but I did not see this at play. This works the other way though, if you race a clean race they will “tweet” their appreciation.

Test Session is the next mode up. You can choose any of the multitude of drivers and all of the tracks available to practice your lanes. That’s basically all you can do since there are no real upgrade options for your car. But this is more of an arcade racer, rather than simulation.

Next is Championship mode. This mode is pretty extensive. You can choose to compete in over thirty races as any driver in the field. Once again I am a little underwhelmed that there are no differences between drivers or cars. From what I understand, racing is all about little tweaks to make the difference. Either it’s a difference in tire pressure, or to the spoiler, et cetera. I’m not saying make it a sim, but give the player a little more control.

Then there are Challenges. These are little snippets or moments from races that made history. You are put into these moments to change or complete what happened in these special racing moments. There are twenty to start with and it seems the game will add more via DLC. I found the few I tried challenging, to say the least.

Visuals:
I was pleasantly surprised how clean this title looked. The cars are fantastic to look at and are highly detailed. The tracks are well done as well. You can tell by the earliest dirt tracks where the line you wanted was. Also, there was plenty of stuff on the side to look at to make it like an official track.

The frame rate is top notch and not once did I experience a slow down. There was no pop in to see, and the load times were respectable. There is an option for the PS4 Pro to either upgrade the visuals or technical function, both worked fine.

Audio:
So for some reason I never notice the music in a game, it’s a flaw. NASCAR Heat 5 was not like that at all. For one, it has licensed music from both the Rock and Country genres. Although the music did get repetitive after awhile, I appreciated the fact it had decent music.

The sound effects were on spot as well. Racing sounds a-plenty filled the air, and were authentic. There was even a spotter, but his help was only a few lines and very repetitive. I would have loved it if NASCAR Heat 5 would have used the DualShock speaker for that function.

Online/Multiplayer:
The online multiplayer is the second star of the show after My Career. NASCAR Heat 5’s multiplayer is lobby based, and the host has a bevy of choices. Like race length, track, and so on. Since the multiplayer is lobby based it’s a crap shoot of what you’re going to get. I’ve played in races where there’s a little rubbing but overall a clean race, and I’ve been in races where there are wrecks every quarter mile. In my mind the single player content is king here for the more authentic race experience. But if you have a group of friends that all are like minded racers then by all means head online.

Last, but not least, there’s Split Screen mode. This allows local multiplayer racing against each other. I was not able to try Split Screen during this review.

Conclusion:
NASCAR Heat 5 overall was a good experience. The single player was solid, and the online multiplayer, while sometimes the Wild West, was an okay mode. With all the drivers and licenses in the game, you are sure to recreate the best race that ever was. Driving was spot on and made you work for it. I just wish this series was a little more simulation than arcade, or would add RPG elements to My Career. So for the racers, this is a must play, and for you non-racers give this a shot. You never know, you might be missing something.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Shawn Hiers

Shawn Hiers

Disabled gamer. Married Father of 4, and playing since the Atari days. I have a passion for all things Lego and an avid Toy Collector. I am also an huge Doctor Who Fan and can talk all things Who for hours 🙂

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