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The Sports Desk – Exclusive NASCAR Heat Evolution Video & PES 2017 Contest!

by Matthew Kato on Jun 27, 2016 at 10:00 AM

The NASCAR license has ping-ponged around, from EA having the license for a time to then Eutechnyx. Now it's in the hands of Dusenberry Martin Racing, who've renewed a partnership with the old NASCAR Heat studio Monster Games. The pair resume their partnership for NASCAR Heat Evolution (PS4, Xbox One, PC), and today the developer has released the first behind-the-scenes developer diary talking about this momentous return.

Monster Games' president Rich Garcia and Dusenberry Martin Racing co-founder Ed Martin worked together back on the original NASCAR Heat, and Martin has long had it in mind to get this partnership back together. In May 2014 Martin got the sense that then-license holder Eutechnyx was going to get out. He called former colleague Tom Dusenberry, and they decided to form their publishing company and go after the rights. Dusenberry Martin Racing was formed on January 1, 2015. Martin says his second call was to Monster Games president Rich Garcia. Martin says Garcia's first answer was, "No." Garcia and Monster Games were working on a Nintendo game at the time, but Martin says he knew that "it was the challenge that we both wanted to do again."

The title moved into full production on March 1, 2015. At first, it was going to use Eutechnyx's code, but it took about a month for Monster to figure out that it would be better to start over from scratch. "It was really a sports-car game not designed for NASCAR," Garcia told us when we visited the studio. "They just started gluing on NASCAR-y stuff." While Garcia says that there were definite benefits from scrapping the code and starting at zero, considering the last title Monster made was a 3DS game with Nintendo and now it would be working on new platforms, the task was a little daunting, albeit exciting.

The game attempts to straddle the line – it's not a hardcore sim, but it's not without its challenge, either. While it has simulation tuning available, it also has an adaptive A.I. system (in race now and season modes) based on different track types that will ratchet up the ability of the A.I. cars as you get better. This is expressed in a Speed Rating. Monster says that the A.I. cars have been taken off of specific racing lines and have a natural racer's mentality on the track. How this meshes and behaves with the situation at hand – the end of a race, going three-wide in the right corners – will be a big challenge for the title. In general, the drivers will be tuned to how they perform on certain kinds of tracks in real-life – road courses, superspeedways, etc. – although there is a randomization quality in there as well, so A.I. drivers won't always perform the same.

While NASCAR Heat Evolution doesn't just pick up where Monster Games' Dirt to Daytona title left off, its career mode is full bodied. You start out at the bottom of the Sprint Cup series with your own team and have to earn contracts and satisfy real sponsors in order to upgrade your organization. If you take Nationwide, for example, both you and Junior would have the sponsor on your cars (with separate paint schemes) even though you're on different teams. You can also keep your sponsorship at any time instead of upgrading, although you'll always make more money even if you decline a new sponsor.

When you start out you pick your car number, manufacturer, and your avatar (including the ability to have a female driver), and at the initial few races you'll be competing to get payouts from secondary sponsors who have various conditions such as finishing in the top 30, for instance. As you progress, separate challenges from drivers will break up the week-to-week schedule. These will be historic situations from the past few seasons.

There is a big board of upgrades you can earn, from buying and expanding your garage space and engine shop to hiring various specialists, and Monster believes your team should take some time to get to the level of the big race teams. Thankfully, there is no limit to how long the career mode goes.

In terms of multiplayer, the studio hasn't announced exactly how many cars will be able to race online, but it's very serious about giving games a stable field of cars. "By completely re-doing the architecture and the way that Monster Games has decided to do it," says Martin, "It will give really stable, very accurate multiplayer racing – much better than the traditional peer-to-peer stuff." Martin says that the game doesn't have dedicated servers, but it'll be a better experience than in the past. Martin says that down the road "the architecture will eventually provide for very large multiplayer racing beyond what other NASCAR games have had." In the past, the biggest one has been 16 players.

As far as DLC goes, the game will have a mix of free and paid DLC, and due to a deal with Toyota, all the Toyota cars' paint schemes are free. There will also be a season pass for all the paint schemes and one for all the challenges. Finally, NASCAR Heat Evolution's paid DLC includes the option to have different personalities (drivers, owners, TV personalities) from the sport as your spotter.

"Our first rev out [is] to get the foundation." says Garcia, "get the game that fixes the core parts of play that we're happy as a team building upon. But we really want to get more leagues of NASCAR. A deeper career mode. Because it's not just that you want to annualize it and add next year's cars and fixes the rules, and that kind of stuff. We want the other leagues of NASCAR." Garcia and the studio is excited to be back with the franchise also from the sense that after working on one-off projects for Nintendo, Monster Games can build on its strengths with the series from year to year and bring the sports' fans and their love of stock car racing along with them.

Take a look at the video below documenting Monster Games' journey back to its racing roots. Also, be sure to also check out the game's latest screens down in the gallery below.

NASCAR Heat Evolution comes out on September 13 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

If you missed last week's Sports Desk – featuring plenty of thoughts on our hands-on impressions from E3 as well as an in-depth Afterwords interview with Dangerous Golf developer Three Fields Entertainment – be sure to check it out.

WIN A PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 2017 PLAYSTATION 4 CONTROLLER!


The folks over at Konami were kind enough to supply us with four Pro Evolution Soccer-branded PlayStation 4 controllers!*

What do you have to do to get one of these? Sum up your hopes and/or fears for this year's PES game and email me at kato@gameinformer.com and I'll pick out a few winners!

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