NASCAR Heat 3 review: A welcome standout in the Sim Racing genre

Esports | October 26th, 2018

Good physics and a comprehensive NASCAR experience make this a must-have title for casual and serious gamers.

fans to sim racers in general.

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offers up a wonderfully comprehensive career mode where you can create your driver and work through the ranks just like the pros did, starting with dirt track racing. Dirt track? Yes, sideways-loving dirt-track racing is part of the package.

career mode.

will make it happen without delay. Setting up a quick race in the Monster Energy series is accomplished with just a few steps, and broader sim racing fans will feel right at home with the on-track action. The physics lean more towards the arcade side of the spectrum, but there’s plenty of sim feel to make it challenging, especially on higher difficulty levels with assists turned off. Even if you’re just lapping in a practice session, you’ll quickly find yourself testing different lines to pick up hundredths of a second. That’s a testament to the time Monster spent on finding the right balance of fun and function.

doesn’t need that kind of functionality, which is actually refreshing for this level of entertainment. Spend a couple minutes adjusting sensitivity and dead zones to your liking and you’ll be drafting and passing with the best of them. We also turned many laps with the standard controller and found the functions to be comfortably intuitive and easily managed. Best of all, fine steering adjustment with the stick is easy to master in no time, and that’s important here because the key to being good at this sim is to be patient. Make subtle moves and look far ahead on the track – just like in real racing – and you’ll see the checkered flag.

. Whether in career mode or setting up quick races, you can make things as simple or complex as you want. That includes hour-long practice sessions, qualifying, and full-length races that require legit pit strategies for tires, fuel, and if you’re unlucky, repairing damage. On the flip side, you can run a five-minute sprint with no rules – basically your own green-white-checker finish – all day, every day. The same goes for dialing in your car, with in-depth adjustability for tech-savvy racers, or a simplified scale that will automatically set up your car for tight (understeer) or loose (oversteer) handling.

is its comprehensive online multiplayer capability. Having only been out for approximately a month there’s already a rich community of racers to join in head-to-head battles, and Esports tournaments are cropping up on a regular basis. Sure, the AI makes for enjoyable offline racing, but running in a pack of 36 digital cars at Daytona with human hands directing the action is really where this title shines.

doesn’t look bad by any means, but it doesn’t have the visual pop of other titles, especially when it comes to 4K playback. The graphics almost have a previous-gen console feel at times, but it’s not particularly noticeable at speed on the track. More noticeable are occasional framerate stutters that don’t slow down the action as much as give it a mildly choppy feel at times. It isn’t prevalent online at all, perhaps because there will always be lag issues that crop up so it’s not noticed. Point being, these are fussy quips that don’t detract from racing action.


Take a lap around Martinsville Speedway where the NASCAR Cup and Truck Series will compete this weekend: