Last year’s Toy Story 3 movie and game, by all definitions were a huge success. This year, Disney and Pixar have rolled out Cars 2 in theaters and for your consoles. As the box office returns show, Toy Story is a more popular franchise than Cars and even with mixed reviews for Cars 2, the movie, no Disney/Pixar film has performed poorly yet. Part of the appeal of the Toy Story 3 game was the variety of gameplay and level of quality of the entire package. Cars 2: The Video Game has much of the same stuff going for it.
As with last year’s Toy Story game, Cars 2 was developed in tight coordination with the movie animators at Pixar. The payoff is that everything about this game high quality, from the menu animations to cutscenes and gameplay. There is very little difference between what you see and hear on the movie screen and what’s in the game, although the game world is a side story of sorts. The game will even detect the 3D capabilities of your TV and adjust the display accordingly.
If you’re worried that this is just another in the long line of Mario Kart clones, you’d be wrong. This game, while having a battle race mode that is very similar to Mario Kart has much more than just that. In some ways Cars 2: The Video Game shares more with more serious racers like Gran Turismo and Forza than the classic kart games. The game starts you off with required training missions where you learn a variety of maneuvers in the game, from drifting and turbo to jumping and aerial tricks in addition to the combat. As you complete training missions you unlock other modes of play including a lengthy story mode.
A good portion of the fun in racing games is multiplayer and being able to sneak cheap shots in on your friends. Unfortunately, the only way to stick it to your friends and family is to actually have them over. There is no online multiplayer and while that might seem fine for a kid’s game, this is not really a game for young kids. The single player and racing AI is a little tough for younger kids. This seems like a misstep, since no one loves Cars more than four and five year old boys. There is a huge variety of other local multiplayer battle modes that are fine for kids to play against each other and surely to the chagrin of parents, Disney has found a way to connect the game to the World of Cars website, where users can have a virtual car that is accessorized by micro-transactions.
This is really a game for Mario Kart graduates and older kids who love the Cars movies. It is unfortunate that the game is targeted at such narrow demographics and that it could have easily been fixed by including variable difficulty settings. That being said, if you like racing games and Pixar movies, this is the game for you. It is nearly as deep as any Gran Turismo or Forza but due to the Pixar dressing, could seem much less intimidating. This game is a lot of fun and great if you and your gamer friends want to share some combat racing fun in 3D or high definition, just don’t buy it for kids that are too young.
Cars 2: The Video Game is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Cartoon Violence. This game can also be found on: Nintendo DS, PC, Wii, and Xbox 360.