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Nascar Heat also features two game options that are really
training tutorials. In "Beat the Heat," you're presented with a
series of challenges, such as crossing the finish line in under a
set time, that are devised to improve your handling skills. "Race
the Pro" drops you into a race against the ghost image of one of the
Nascar pros' cars and asks you to beat a time he clocked while
playing the game.
The car and racetrack graphics are nearly photorealistic. I
tested Nascar Heat on an AMD Athlon 700MHz PC with 128MB RAM, with
the graphic details and screen resolution at the highest settings,
and the game managed to hold a steady 40 to 50 frames per second.
There wasn't much of a slowdown in the frame rate when I increased
the number of competing racecars. (You can race against up to 43
computer-controlled stock cars.)
Sound is adequate, nothing more. The rumble of the engines and
the squeal of the tires do the job, though the crowd remains oddly
silent until you cross the finish line. Forget the music, though.
It's a boring, generic racing tune that quickly grows monotonous.
Turn it off and immediately improve your gaming experience.
Nascar Heat is a balanced package that successfully merges
together the basics of racing simulations and arcade racers. You can
play it as either type, or customize a version with features from
both styles. Have it your way, and you won't feel like you're going
around in circles.
Howard Wen is a frequent contributor to Playboy.com.