NASCAR Heat 3 Review - Read Before You Buy

Play as Chase Elliott in the 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1!
Can you get Chase his 2nd Cup win!? You had better!



NASCAR Heat 3 is the latest video game based around the most popular motor sport in America. There’s quite a bit that has been added to this year’s game, standing out against other sports games. Typically the updates are minimal in sports games, but not so here! With that said, we’re going to do a review of the game, so make sure you read this and take it in consideration before a purchase is made. This will be a fair, non-biased review, sharing the good and the bad of the game.

NASCAR Heat 3 Story

There are story moments before each race!

There are realistic story moments before each race!

The story to NASCAR Heat 3 is to, ultimately, become a Legend in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS for short). You start off on the local dirt circuit, showing that you have the chops to race with anybody and everybody. Your agent gets you noticed by some of the folks in the Camping World Trucks/Xfinity series. As you climb your way to those and succeed you eventually will land a MENCS ride. Once you’ve done that it’s your time to shine and prove you’re the best Cup driver ever!

There’s more to the story side of things in this game than in NASCAR Heat 2. You have an expanded rivalry/friendship system in this game. After a race if you rough somebody up they may send you a Tweet; you can respond in a positive or negative manner, thus influencing the friendship or lack thereof with that individual driver. How you continue to race them too will influence how your career goes as you make your way up the NASCAR ladder.

Another new addition to NASCAR Heat 3’s story mode are the pre-race moments, which definitely adds story depth to the game. Drivers can get sent to the back of the field since they had technical violations, for example. You will also get updates on different drivers who are struggling or on the other hand are having a good weekend. It adds some personality and life to the race weekend.

NASCAR Heat 3 Gameplay

See what types of deals you can make!

It’s all about finishing well and making good deals!

The basic gameplay of NASCAR is about getting good finishes. Yes, ultimately you want to win all the races, but that’s not always possible. You start off in the Xtreme Dirt Tour and you try to get as many good finishes as you can. You’ll get noticed and get Hot Seat offers in the higher up NASCAR series. Your goal in the Hot Seat events is to accomplish what’s spelled out; for example, getting a top 20 finish at a particular race.

If you get that finish for that team you make it much more likely that you’ll secure that car down the road. If you don’t accomplish the goal of the Hot Seat you can get other offers down the road, so it’s not critical that you get it all done the first time. So don’t be too worried if you can’t accomplish what’s needed the first time.

The game has the full circuit for each series, from the fantasy dirt series to the MENCS. The different Playoff styles are in each series as well. So the Playoffs for the MENCS has 16 drivers and works down to 4 by Homestead. The Playoffs in the Xfinity and Truck circuits are different; starting with 12 for Xfinity and 8 for the Trucks. How things work in the real NASCAR is how it works in the different series in NASCAR Heat 3.

The game definitely does a good job presenting things as they work in the real world, with the real tracks. But one thing still needs to be worked on in the game. The brakes and tires. The tires squeal far too much under braking and during turns. That’s something that doesn’t seem to be any better at all from NASCAR Heat 2. The engine sounds too seem to not be any better from Heat 2. The engine sounds were quite improved from NASCAR Heat Evolution to 2, but not so much from 2 to 3. The dirt cars sound and look fine but the rest needs fine tuning overall.

NASCAR Heat 3 Other modes

Choose any real life driver!

Feel free to pick a real world driver and dive in!

The Career mode of NASCAR Heat 3 is the main thrust of the game, no question. But there are plenty of other areas of the game to check out as well.

Ownership mode: You can own your own cars in any of the four series in the game. This is connected to Career mode, but there’s a difference between simply running one car on your own and owning and managing a team. This is one of the largest new additions to the NASCAR Heat series.

You have to manage a lot as an owner

You have to manage quite a bit as an owner!

Online mode: Just like last year, you can do full field races with people online, whether in a league of your own or randomly with different people you meet there. There is no practice or qualifying online again this year, a big negative to be sure. But you can spectate people online, unlike last year. So if you’re trying to join a group that’s already in a race you can choose to spectate that race. You also have the ability to switch cameras, so it’s not one view only. Then once they’re done you can join their event. Or you can simply just watch and go from there if you choose.


Quick race: What would a racing game be without a quick race option? You can pick any driver in any of the four series and do random races. Pick a driver, pick a track, pick the rules, and race!

Split-screen co-op: This game continues what started in NASCAR Heat 2 in that you can race split-screen with a friend. You can’t do this online, it’s couch only. But it’s something fans really were asking for with NASCAR Heat 2 so it’s nice to see it carried over to this year as well.

Full season: You can do quick races in a particular series if you choose, and the same is true for a full season for any of the series. You simply pick a driver and series and race your way through the season, from the first race all the way to Homestead. You can also choose to start a season off at the post-season, that way you’re right in the action for the Championship.

NASCAR Heat 3 Graphics 

Eldora looks great in this game!

Eldora looks gorgeous in this game!

NASCAR Heat 3 honestly leaves a lot to be desired on the graphics side of things. The cars and tracks still look too cartoon-ish overall. Not nearly as attractive as F1 2018, Project Cars 2, or the Forza series. The dirt tracks in the game, however, do look pretty good. Look at the above picture of Eldora speedway. The racing lines and the mud on the wall look great, exactly as you’d expect for a race at that track. But the rest of the tracks in game still don’t look that great overall. The game pulls 60fps on PC, so that version definitely will look better than the 30fps console version.

Final Thoughts

This a solid entry for Monster Games and 704Games. Though not perfect it’s certainly a step above the most recent entry, NASCAR Heat 2.


  • New Xtreme Dirt Tour, giving a more realistic approach to climbing up the NASCAR ranks
  • Much better dirt track graphics
  • Online spectating mode added
  • Ownership mode and the depth in and around that
  • Pre-race stories give more depth to the race weekend
  • You have the ability to interact with other drivers, enhancing the friendship/rivalry system
  • $50 voucher returns


  • Graphics outside of the dirt racing still leave much to be desired
  • Tires still squeal entirely too much under both braking and turning
  • No day to night system
  • Can’t race in the rain on road courses
  • No practice or qualifying online

Formats: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Price: $49.99

Publisher: 704Games

Developer: Monster Games

Final Score: 8/10

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