Start your engines, it’s time to hit the track with NASCAR Heat 5. The legendary franchise returns with roaring engines and high-octane action. This instalment in the series offers fun arcade racing with the option for deep simulation action. If you are looking for a solid racing experience NASCAR 5 brings the heat.
NASCAR Heat 5 Review Details
Become a racing legend
The career mode in NASCAR Heat 5 has a lot to offer aspiring professional drivers. You can sink hours into this mode as you work your way to the top of the racing world. You can start off as a call up on the Xtreme Dirt Tour and work to earn your pro racing stripes. If you are limited on time you can opt to start your career at the top, alongside elite NASCAR drivers. The racing duels are great as you advance through the NASCAR Infinity Series and Cup Series.
Pick your career path
In career mode you can decide whether you want to be a driver or start your very own race team. The key difference as a driver it’s all about focusing on your car and winning races. If you opt to start your own team you take on responsibilities of managing staff and resources while also racing. You definitely get a much deeper view of the NASCAR world by growing and managing your very own team. It’s great to have the option between the two career mode types. I recommend going the management route for a more detailed experience.
NASCAR Heat 5 offers a few different online and local multiplayer modes to face off against human opponents. Online multiplayer includes the option to race against up to 40 players, giving you the high stakes feel of a real race. NASCAR 5 also includes a local split-screen mode so you can race with a friend. There are even eNASCAR Heat Pro League qualifiers giving you the shot to compete professionally.
Gameplay on race day
I played through the majority of my racing experience with a PlayStation 4 DualShock Controller and the steering precision was great. The controls are fluid and responsive, different stockcars have their own unique “feel.” Each vehicle’s unique handling is pronounced enough that I started to have my own preferences for certain cars.
Using the right stick as a gear shifter was good, but if you intend on getting the most authentic experience you might want to opt for a racing wheel.
Using a wheel like the Logitech G29 really kicks the experience up to a whole new level. The force feedback actually has you fight the car on the track. I always find with racing games this really adds a whole new dimension to the experience. Overall, with a controller or a full racing wheel you are going to get a solid racing experience.
Up for a challenge?
The game offers a wide variety of options when it comes to racing difficulty and simulation.
You can go from an arcade style experience or up the difficulty to nearly match what professional drivers face on the track.
Your fellow driver’s AI is also improved this year, offering far more of a challenge. This year the competition comes at you with a bigger bag of tricks. Instead of sticking to a prebaked race line they react to track and race conditions in real time. CPU drivers will now aggressively draft and block to gain the upper hand. This is far and away where NASCAR Heat 5 shines, this is the best the AI has been in the series for quite some time.
The cars and tracks have seen some visual upgrades and look closer to their real-life counterparts. The game utilizes the Unity engine and it delivers some great graphics, especially with night racing the light reflections look great.
Two new camera angles have also been added this year with the roof and far chase cams, giving drivers a whole new look at the action. The far chase cam really adds a new more cinematic feel to the racing experience.
A new coat of paint
A big improvement in NASCAR Heat 5 is the paint booth, which lets you customize vehicles in much greater detail. You can change more details than ever giving your stock car more personality on the track. The new additions give you the ability to change the shadow fill colour of digits, as well as new hue options for your rims and spoilers. Even with these new options, it would be idea to see much more added. Other racing games like Forza Horizon 4 and NFS Heat have extremely deep customization tools, it would be nice to something of this calibre in the NASCAR Heat series.
Unfortunately, NASCAR Heat 5 leaves a lot to be desired from the sound department. The cars sound ok but are lacking when compared to the competition. Engine sounds are fairly static and the pre-recorded voice exchanges get repetitive quickly. The included rock soundtrack also offers very little variety and songs are often repeated. Sound is a big part of the racing experience. It would have been ideal to have more audio sampling throughout the game.
There isn’t a large amount of improvements between NASCAR 4 and 5’s presentation. Many of the menus remain the same and are overdue for a pit stop. There is also a complete lack of broadcast style presentation or any incorporation of real-world NASCAR results. Adding these two elements would really help increase immersion for players.
A podium finish
NASCAR Heat 5 is a solid racing experience that has a lot of room for innovation. The presentation and career mode remain mostly the same which is unfortune, as there is room for improvement. Where NASCAR 5 really shines is with its excellent gameplay and challenging driver AI. The racing is fun and addictive, for all the game’s other shortcomings the on-track formula still keeps NASCAR Heat 5 in the winner’s circle.
+ Excellent gameplay with tight controls
+ Graphics and tracks look great
+ New Driver AI offers a fun challenge
– Presentation visuals and menus mainly unchanged
– No broadcast commentary
– Lack of new modes or innovative features
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF NASCAR HEAT 5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5