Just how authentic do you want a NASCAR game to be?
Your answer to that question pretty much determines whether you should buy NASCAR Heat 3 or not. Because while there are better racing experiences out there, there are none more authentic.
A perfectly serviceable racer
NASCAR Heat 3 is a solid, but unspectacular racing game. It doesn’t push the bar in any way, but it’s consistently decent. From its visuals to its handling, you won’t ever be wowed by NASCAR Heat 3, but you won’t be disappointed by it either. It’s a perfectly serviceable representation of the motor sport that entertains but never goes that extra mile to truly impress.
Career mode is NASCAR Heat 3‘s main attraction, and this time you can create your own team rather than sign on with another if you wish. Choose to create your own team and you’ll have to hire staff and train them, as well as buy your own vehicles and upgrade your facilities to maximise their performance. In all honesty, there’s not a great deal of depth to your management options, but it still makes your career a bit more engaging. It makes you feel like you’re making a difference.
Making your mark in dirt
When you begin your career, you’ll be racing in the fictional Xtreme Dirt Tour, standing in for other drivers. Its muddy tracks will be your proving grounds; your chance to show your potential in the hope of being offered a contract. Though whether or not you choose to accept a contract when given the opportunity is up to you. In any case, from that point on, NASCAR Heat 3 is all about making a name for yourself. It’s about winning not only the Xtreme Dirt Tour, but also the 3 NASCAR National Series, either for yourself, or for any one of a number of teams.
NASCAR Heat 3‘s career will occupy tens of hours of your life; it all depends on how authentic you want your NASCAR experience to be. Most will probably choose to play with races being just a small percentage of their real-life length, and many may also elect to play on easy. If you want to take part in full length races with realistic damage and no assists, however, you can. And it’ll be those players that will get the most out of NASCAR Heat 3, no doubt.
More than just a career
Career mode isn’t all that the game has to offer though. There are quick race options, you can take part in championships, and there are also over 30 challenges to be conquered. In fact, challenge mode might be just as much of a draw as career mode for some. Placing you in real-life situations, your skills will be tested as you attempt to complete objectives under a range of conditions. And for completing them, you’re rewarded with videos which will pique the interest of any NASCAR fan.
Of course, playing NASCAR Heat 3 needn’t be a singular experience either. As well as being able to partake in split-screen races, you can also take the action online. You’ll not find the most extensive suite of online racing options, but there’s enough to keep you occupied.
Presentation is no doubt the worst aspect of NASCAR Heat 3. Its menus are functional but not very interesting, the videos that occasionally pop up from your mentor during your career will have you eye-rolling due to their bad acting, and while racing, screen-tearing is quite common. NASCAR Heat 3 isn’t an ugly game in action, but with unimpressive lighting and some bland textures, it doesn’t give the impression of a quality product. And if you’ve got an Xbox One X, a lack of enhancements will leave you disappointed.
Ultimately, if you’re after the most authentic NASCAR racing game available right now, NASCAR Heat 3 will serve you well. But if all you want to do is take some NASCAR vehicles around some tracks now and again, on Xbox One you might as well pick up Forza Motorsport 6 or 7. They won’t let you complete your own NASCAR career or build your own team, but they have better physics and spectacular visuals. The choice is yours, and either way you’ll be suitably entertained.