I have picked up, played for a few hours, and put back down Cars 3: Driven to Win many times over the past three weeks. I love the idea of actually racing the cars from the Pixar franchise, I love the notion of this whole thing being slightly wacky, and I love Lightning McQueen’s desire for speed (at least through the second film, I haven’t seen the third yet but one assumes he hasn’t lost that). I keep putting the game down, in frustration, for a number of reasons, but mostly because of the last item in the preceding sentence (save the parenthetical) – Lightning’s desire for speed. This is something not completely lacking from the game, but it is mostly absent. This is a racing game largely without a sense of speed.
There, I said it, and the thing of it is, I could end this piece here. No, this may traditional review for game, but my goal is still to tell you the salient points, the pros and cons of it all, and after the above paragraph you know the single most important thing you have to know about the game – there is very little sense of speed to it. There is a sense of imprecision to the controls. There is a quickly arrived at sense of tiredness to the tricks the game asks the players to perform (drive backwards, drive on two wheels, flip in the air). There is a rapid sense of boredom with the cars offering the same phrases over and over. And yet, the sense of speed is absent.
On the plus side, there are a number of racetracks offered (too many of them are too confusing and too long). There are a whole lot of racers one can play as, and the racers’ looks are slightly customizable. There are a number of types of races (including weaponized ones) as well. This variation does help the game, but not enough.
Beyond that, there are a whole lot of things the game would have you do during a race to earn check marks (drive backwards for a certain amount of time, fill the turbo meter in a specific way, win a series of races, etc.) to unlock more events. But, none of that fixes the game’s basic problem, namely, racing in Cars 3: Driven to Win is dull. I must note that on the hard setting, the game does feel slightly faster, but there is also an increased sense that the AI players are being aided in a way that you’re not, negating any gains.
How much enjoyment is there then Driven to Win? How long does it take for the whole thing to get dull? About two hours for this reviewer, although obviously everyone’s mileage will vary. And, truly, while things like the imprecise controls and asking players to drive backwards (to fill the turbo meter) get old, they are all things which can be looked past. The feeling that the game simply isn’t fast enough, however, cannot.