I reviewed Heat over at Maximum3D, and I totally agree with you on all counts. Have you tried the game with a Force Feedback wheel? A user wrote a patch for it, to fix the weak in-game support, and it totally changes the game.
I'm reviewing Elite Force right now. Great game, but way too short. I think I finished the single player in about 10 hours. Looks great, though. Be sure to look at the video in your quarters, on the table by the couch.