Yet another article previewing NASCAR Heat Evolution by DMi Games warrants the exact same introduction as the last: After five years of utterly atrocious officially licensed games by European shovelware developer Eutechnyx, the team behind 2002’s smash hit NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona are set to release their first stock car racing title in fourteen years this September. Powered by the dated yet still incredibly competent NASCAR Heat engine – which first saw action during 1998’s Viper Racing – there is a tangible buzz in the air surrounding this release; a buzz not felt since Winston-branded cigarettes had been a major player in American motorsports. Yes, it took over a decade to get to this point, and in the meantime multiple developers managed to shit out embarrassing NASCAR products, but what matters is that we as NASCAR fans have finally escaped from the dark ages.
It’s just a shame that when the covers were finally taken off of NASCAR Heat Evolution, and carefully-crafted trailers had finally given way to almost an hour of raw gameplay footage, the team at DMi Games recruited the absolute worst possible personality to demonstrate their product.
According to the content on his Twitch channel homepage, DeejayKnight is primarily a space simulator and science fiction game junkie, with virtually no footage of pretend race cars to be see anywhere in his past broadcast history. For whatever reason, DMi Games believed this individual – who charges $4.99 per subscription – was the absolute perfect Twitch personality to perform a 52-minute demonstration of NASCAR Heat Evolution for the thousands of hardcore fans jumping at the bit to see live footage of the upcoming game. Unlike most racing simulators launching on the Steam platform, DMi Games publicly announced they would not have any sort of open or close beta program, nor would there be a demo, meaning these extremely rare and spontaneous social media sessions were the only chance NASCAR fans would have to see the product in action prior to the mid-September launch across the PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
The 52-minute marathon broadcast was borderline painful to watch, and you can click here to watch the whole thing if cruel and unusual punishments have not yet been outlawed in your state or province. DeejayKnight is obviously not a NASCAR fan by any means, has clearly not touched a racing game in the past five years, and as a result he simply could not keep the car pointed straight – even on the Normal set of physics. Now I actually own all NASCAR products developed by Monster Games, and I can assure you that the Normal driving model has more in common with your average PS2 Need for Speed entry than an asymetrical American Stock Car. It’s pretty hard to fuck this up.
Yet despite this, Deejay struggles to complete multiple attempts at four-lap stints around Daytona, Kansas, Atlanta, and California – always ensuring to use the #19 Arris Camry for some strange reason – but the sheer statistics the game spits out at him via the heads up display are absolutely appalling. During his brief stint at Charlotte, Deejay busts out a 32-second lap time; five seconds off pace, and so slow that he would actually be disqualified for failing to meet minimum competition speed in the real world. At Daytona, there are occasions where Deejay barely manages to stay in the 140 to 160 MPH range thanks to constantly colliding with the wall, when real world Sprint Cup Cars are hitting the 205 MPH mark under green flag conditions. Upon arriving at Kentucky in his created car, Deejay can’t complete more than a lap before binning the car entirely, and causing a multi-car accident. For almost an entire hour, hardcore NASCAR fans – the audience that will rush out to buy and support the game the moment September 16th arrives – are forced to suffer through watching a completely random Twitch streamer fumble his way through NASCAR 2016.
How competent is the artificial intelligence? Well, Deejay can’t answer that question, as he’s driving so poorly, the game starts downshifting to third gear for him, and the adaptive AI slows to a crawl. How accurate is the driving model? Deejay can’t answer that, either – he can’t even keep the car pointed straight at Daytona. Do both tire wear and fuel consumption affect the car’s performance? Deejay can’t stomach an event longer than four laps, so we never get to see. Can Deejay show us the new configuration of Kentucky? Nope, even Kansas is too hard for him. Every possible question the audience may have, Deejay is simply unable to answer, instead uttering variations of #RIP to himself each time he tags the wall, as if his viewers are merely children whom have been instructed by their parents to sit in front of the computer monitor for an hour while the talking man pretends they’re friends and spits out goofy one-liners.
With so many hardcore sim racers within the NASCAR video game community, and so many individuals who would love to show off a product like this to like-minded individuals, it is absolutely asinine to have someone so clueless and incompetent play the role of infomercial host when this is some of the only footage you’ll see of this game in action prior to release. I do not blame DeejayKnight for this travesty one bit; the guy is clearly not a NASCAR fan, nor does he appear to understand the basics of auto racing – but he’s not required to. This is a Twitch streamer who has an entirely different crowd, and is interested in a line of games that bare no resemblance to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. In short, Deejay fumbling around with NASCAR 2016 would be equivalent to EA Sports giving me free reign of FIFA 17 for an hour. It’s just not the right person for the job.
I will, however, point the finger at DMi Games for giving this whole endeavor the thumbs up. Thankfully, I was able to check this stream out at my own leisure, and could skip through the video until I found something interesting. May others didn’t have that option, and were suckered into watching it live thanks to the campaign by DMI Games on social media to generate interest in this event. That’s an hour of their lives they won’t get back, and none of the genuine questions they’ve had about NASCAR Heat 2016 have been answered in the slightest.
Send EmptyBox a beta key, and tell him to record a few videos in his classic format. Give Jeff Favignano access to a pre-release version, and instruct him to run a full-length race at like, Phoenix or something. Hell, toss a few keys our way, so not only can Dustin give the team at DMi proper car setup feedback, we can potentially generate interest in the title by directly addressing the game’s simulation value – provided it’s actually good. There are at least a hundred hardcore stock car guys who would love to take time out of their day to demonstrate this game to your target audience, and DMi instead believed that was a job left for some random guy playing through random crap on Twitch. If these kinds of decisions are being made by DMi at the most basic level, what kind of ugly surprises are we in store for when NASCAR Heat Evolution drops in September?