Monday, May 1, 2017

Is NASCAR Heat Mobile A Hot Racing App?

Photo Credit: NASCAR Heat Mobile/704Games



After a 15-year absence, the NASCAR Heat brand was revived late last year as Monster Games returned as a developer for Dusenberry Martin Racing’s (now named 704Games) official video game based on the major league stock car racing series. NASCAR Heat Evolution was released this past September for Xbox One, Sony Playstation 4 as well as Windows OS computers. While the realistic driving mode and learning curve of racing in professional stock cars were appreciated by devoted fans, NASCAR Heat Evolution gained a lukewarm reception when it was released. On Metacritic, NASCAR Heat Evolution received a Metascore of 66 with a less impressive User Score of 4.6 out of 10 based on 21 reviewers. Some complaints centred on graphics while others were underwhelmed by the experience delivered for the game’s price. The game is currently priced at $32.99 on Steam  When it comes to games for major consoles such as the Xbox One or Playstation 4, people expect a reliably incredible reservoir of entertainment.

As the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series launched, the inaugural mobile racing game from the NASCAR Heat franchise was added to the Apple App Store. Published by 704Games, the mobile version of NASCAR Heat introduced stock car racing action for a more casual audience.

For almost 20 years, I have played numerous NASCAR video games dating back to the NASCAR Revolution on computer to NASCAR The Game: Inside Line on the Xbox 360. One source for fond memories is NASCAR Racing 1999 Edition for the computer that allowed me to race in the Winston Cup Series, Busch Series or Craftsman Truck Series. My experiences with racing video games have generally favoured authentic and immersing. I have also enjoyed the NASCAR portion of Real Racing 3. Entering my assessment of NASCAR Heat Mobile, there were some expectations for the limitations I will experience. While I admittedly have not played NASCAR Heat Evolution, it’s obvious the mobile game was created as a unique entity and is not a port of the console game.


Photo Credit: NASCAR Heat Mobile/704Games



NASCAR Heat Mobile does a great job in immediately presenting a pleasing to look at gaming experience. All of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series tracks are found in the game. When racing, you’ll be door-to-door with the vehicles belonging to the sport’s current superstars. The game also added Camping World Truck Series drivers Chase Briscoe and Xfinity Series’ Darrell Wallace Jr. to the field by imposing their paint scheme on Cup cars.

 Like many mobile games, the action of this NASCAR Heat game is optimized for a quick play. You can experience the Daytona 500 in just 4 laps or 10 laps on the Martinsville Speedway short track. For the road courses of Sonoma Raceway or Watkins Glen, a two-lap distance presented with the NASCAR Heat mobile game could be shorter in length than pace laps at the actual race. Through these abbreviated races, players can run each race in two manner. The first method is the traditional goal of getting the highest position possible is still the best way to accumulate top prize money. The second way of racing in the NASCAR Heat Mobile game is very similar to what is found in many other apps. Corresponding with the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule starting with the Daytona 500, each race is provided with five random objectives the player needs to achieve in order to earn a maximum three-star rating. Progressing through the season, I’ve noticed the objectives growing more challenging such as maintaining a 59-second consecutive draft at Dover International Speedway (yes, it is one of those stock car racing games that embellishes the effects of drafting on almost every track with exceptions being Martinsville Speedway and Bristol International Speedway). It’s important to gain maximum stars each race in order move-on to the next race on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series calendar. As a relief to people who may be relying on data plans, NASCAR Heat Mobile offers an option of downloading tracks as you progress through the game.


Photo Credit: NASCAR Heat Mobile/704Games



NASCAR Heat Mobile contains almost no learning curve that is associated with simulation-style racing games. The auto racing game trope of the player starting at the back of the grid is replicated in this mobile game. Fortunately, advancing through the field is fairly easy early on as your car seems faster than every other competitors. Braking is automatic into corners and it is very difficult to crash by your own design or wreck other cars (braking can also be applied the touch screen but it serves only useful when attempting to accomplish drafting objectives). When an in-race crash may be generated by the game, no damage will occur to the AI competitors or even your race car. While I was unable to find a way to turn off or adjust the auto-brake function, steering assist can be deactivated. Drafting and bump-drafting is overused as a star-playing accomplishment. Unlike what many stock car fans have observed, drafting in the NASCAR Heat Mobile game actually slows down your progress. After competing through a full season in NASCAR Heat Mobile, completion of the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale will provide one of two choices consisting of either striding to rerun the races of the present season or you can advance to another season featuring more challenging competition.

Besides race finishes, players of NASCAR Heat Mobile earn in-game cash through a Sim City/Roller Coaster Tycoon-like compound presented at the bottom of the main menu screen. Fan attractions such as hot dog stands, blimps, concert venue and RV park provides a generous source for cash for buying upgrades through the game. Garage facilities and R&D Centre are upgradable aesthetically but also improve the level of performance your car can achieve. You can also use in-car currency to buy additional stock cars of Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano or Jimmie Johnson allowing you to race as one of your favourite drivers.


Photo Credit: NASCAR Heat Mobile/704Games



With the before-mentioned Real Racing 3, I have been frustrated by the steep cost of some premier vehicles. I understand there must be a way for an app developer to make money on a game they provide free but some pricing for in-game purchases is preposterous. At this time, to purchase Joey Logano’s #22 Team Penske Ford would require 500 gold coins. Paying real money for the gold coins, 476 costs $69.99 in Real Racing 3. You could buy two copies of NASCAR Heat Evolution on Steam for that price. Earning the gold coins through Real Racing 3 is a major uphill fight that could take months to earn anything remotely usable. In a contrast to Real Racing 3, the NASCAR Heat Mobile game provides a more complete game play for frugal gamers. While you can pay real money to quickly acquire in-game currency, ad-supported platform consisting of 30-second commercials is prevalent appear after races. Players can also endure ads in order to acquire extra fuel, cash or extra spin after scoring a top-5 finish.

A simple, fun game providing a share of addiction thanks to casual yet fulfilling gameplay, the NASCAR Heat Mobile app is a welcoming addition to the screen of a smart device.

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