HEAT Online Review : Casual MMO Racer
By Umar Farooq (Kluey), OnRPG journalist.
HEAT Online is a free MMO racing game that offers players a ton of different game modes and the ability to customize your car so it can be truly, your car. If you're looking for a racing game for casual play, HEAT Online is for you. If you're looking for a competitive racing game, HEAT Online is still a great choice. It has an awesome rating system in which you lose more in a loss than you gain in win giving it the competitive feel.
When starting out, you can select the instant play option or register your account. Instant play allows you to get the feel of the game by being able to play online without an account. I do recommend you register an account simply because it's a very easy process that takes less than a minute.
Character creation is very simple. You are given a choice of 3 cars all of which have their own attributes to fit your style of play. For example one of the cars may have higher speed while another has less speed but more acceleration. After you've made an account, picked your car and are ready to race you will have to complete the tutorial. The tutorial is a short and simple runway from start to finish with different obstacles and instructions for controls.
The auto-join system does have some things that need work. Some players take quite a while to hit the "ready" button and others take extremely long to load. The layout on the auto-join system is also a bit confusing for your first match. After the first match you will start to understand the auto-join system and it becomes quite a luxury. While waiting for players to enter the room you can practice on a track. Basically you get to drive around a track without any objectives or finish points. Once there are enough players it will automatically transfer you to the racetrack.
The graphics of this game are amazing at high quality. At low quality they are perfect for people with weaker graphic cards or a slower computer. The game is good for people who play on a business or home computer that isn't necessarily made for gaming. Compared to some of the leading offline Racing Games such as Gran Turismo, HEAT online does have limited graphics but compared to other MMO Racing Games the graphics really stand out.
The driving isn't exactly smooth though. Drifting is a bit rough and making sharp turns is extremely difficult. To be honest, driving like you would in Burnout won't work in this game. The tutorial does say drifting is better and what not but after a bit of play, it seems that slowing down before turns is much more efficient and in the long run, will cut your lap time.
The amount of skill needed in this game is very high. To excel and get into first place, you'll either need ridiculously good control or you'll need to be very, very lucky. The grassy banks or the parts on the sides of the road slow you down so much that driving on them for a few seconds can really put you in a bad position.
What I really like about HEAT online is that there is nothing that can make a player in 8th place suddenly jump into to 1st place. There's no guns or traps like in Drift City or Upshift Strike Racer.
One of the things that really pleased me was the ability to customize so many things. One of my favorite things was the fact that you could take your favorite music and use that instead of the boring default game music.
Another neat thing was the ability to customize your car. In all of my races I haven't seen two cars that were exactly the same apart from the beginner cars which had different colors. There are so many items from the shop that you can put on your car and make it truly, your car.
The community has a whole lot of good things but at the same time, a whole lot of not so good things. There is a Social room that you can go to from the Olympic square, which is basically your lobby. In the Social portal there's a bunch of names with their levels and status. You can also right click them for more information about their account. There's an invite to play, add friend and send message tab. This ensures a well-knit community and an easy way to get help from GS's (Game Sage).
HEAT Online has a very interesting world. You start at Olympic Square. It's basically a lobby that has a portal for each: tutorial, auto-join a game, create a game, show list of games and a social portal. Everything is approached in your car that you've upgraded/customized and made your own. Outside of this small lobby, there's a large world with a bunch of streets and drives. I haven't found an important use for this but it's really interesting when you're driving around and see a Jigsaw puzzle challenge or an Event Calendar portal.
To wrap it all up, HEAT Online is an awesome game and there's no reason for you to not tryit. It's not something I see myself playing in a year or two but I definitely don't regret trying this game at all. Even if you're not a Racing Game fan this game is a must try.
- Incredible graphics and game play
- Has a great way to keep the community together
- Easy for new players and casual gamers but also competitive for the hardcore gamers
- Can be run on almost any computer
- Hard for new players to get use to the funky auto-join system
- Drifting doesn't have the right benefits and is very hard to pull off