Review Copy Provided by 704Games
Providing tactile moments of gameplay for both the experienced and beginner driver, Nascar Heat 4 seems to be just another racing game released among all the Forza and Need for Speed titles just tacked on with a brand name appeal. With slicker graphics, tuned controls, and more lifelike gameplay, it may be easy for the enthusiast to notice an upgrade. But for your average person, the game might as well be from 2016. With less customization than the Forza titles, Nascar Heat 4 feels less like a sandbox and more like a cookie-cutter title, the product of the industrialization of the creative process of game development. Centered mainly around its career game mode, the game has four main series, each with different styles of tracks and cars. Through the career mode, the player advances through each series, mimicking the career of a real Nascar superstar. In addition to this career mode, there is a quick-play and online multiplayer game mode which are almost exactly what they sound like. By what I mean by that is Nascar Heat 4 rarely surprises or delights players, instead just meeting the bare expectations. And in relation to the contemporaries of the genre, it simply pales in comparison.
Including minimal upgrades from the last release and very limited content, Nascar Heat 4 does little to stand out among all the other racing titles. In other similar genre experiences such as Forza, there is a plethora of models available to drive and experiment with and a multitude of settings, such as weather and lighting, to fiddle with. Coming off a game as acclaimed as that, Heat 4 comes across as a frustratingly limited experience, frequently constricting and inhibiting the player as to where they have little breathing room for creativity.
The game does offer some variety in its collection of series, including an “Xtreme” circuit for more experienced drivers. This series is full of dirt covered tracks, making them much more difficult to maneuver; it’s a refreshing step out from the mundane asphalt of the other tracks, but it still fails to drum up much excitement outside of the first few races.
To sum this all up, Nascar Heat 4 is yet another iterative improvement to Nascar’s video game lineup. Providing realistic gameplay, there is little to not like about the game itself… besides the fact that it is nearly identical to its predecessors. There seems to be some sort of limit in peaking that these titles are encountering with most of the recent releases either stagnating or being just stale cold. It’s unfortunate that this seems to be the case since Nascar Heat 4 is well-thought-out and designed to a tee. However, as good as the developers’ intentions may have been, the title frequently confuses realism for immersion, choosing to prioritize gorgeous visuals ahead of creating a meaningfully dynamic interactive experience. For the average consumer, the better route may be to just get an older release and save a little green.
NASCAR Heat 4 is the latest and most robust in the series, with:
- More customization options
- A deeper career mode
- All new graphics and audio packages
- Improved physics and handling
- 38 tracks and over 150 teams and drivers
- Integrated eNASCAR Heat Pro League esports and online play
NASCAR HEAT 4 is Available Now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.