Disney and Avalanche Software surprised everyone with Toy Story 3 last year. They managed to make a movie tie-in a game that was, well, actually really good. With Cars 2: The Video Game, I’m glad to say they’ve done it again.
Cars 2 takes a lot of inspiration from Mario Kart, and luckily, it’s just as fun. There are power-ups and speed boosts and the like, but unlike Mario Kart‘s koopa shells and banana peels, you’re dealing with machine guns and missile launchers.
Whereas the film focuses on Lightning McQueen as he travels around the globe to race in the World Grand Prix as some agents from Command Headquarters for Recon Operations & Motorized Espionage (C.H.R.O.M.E) are trying to get to the bottom of some evil plot, the game takes a more neutral approach to the story. Here you’re taken behind the scenes to be trained as a C.H.R.O.M.E. agent by completing simulations of races and other driving tasks, and, well, that’s really basically it.
Which is fine by me, as various modes have you hunting down enemies in an arena or playing team based capture the flag. It is truly fun and if you can look past the child-like liscense, you’ll see that Cars 2 is essentially what it should be–a fun game–but what you might not expect, is that it’s one that’s hard to master.
There’s a nice ‘drop-in and drop-out’ local multiplayer for up to four players. Even though the lack of an online mode is disappointing, it’s just as much fun playing with friends the old fashioned way.
Graphics wise, Cars 2 is great little looker. Avalanche’s close work with Pixar really shows, particularly the little details, like how the cars lift their tires to turn and move their entire bodies in expressions. The lack of a mini-map is a little odd, so you never know how far ahead/behind the opposition you are, which does make things frustrating, but you can see your car’s face in the upper left corner, so even though you’re staring at their backside most of the time, you never forget you’re playing as a character from the film, which is a nice touch.
I found myself warming to Cars 2: The Video Game surprisingly quickly. It’s a colourful little racer, that is extremely fun; but more so with friends, so the lack of an online mode lets it down. But other than that, look past the Disney liscence and you’ll find yourself a fun, yet challenging little racer.
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: Macintosh, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, Wii, Windows, Xbox 360.