Reviewed: July 24, 2011
Released: June 21, 2011
Pixarís Cars was a fantastic movie and it was adapted into a surprisingly good video game that let you hang out with all of your favorite characters in all your favorite locations from the movie, racing, exploring, and having fun adventures. I havenít seen the new movie yet, but Cars 2, the obligatory movie-based game has arrived for review and I have to admit, itís pretty addicting, very challenging, and totally fun, and slightly repetitive, or maybe thatís just me trying to digest the entire game in two nights of gameplay.|
I can only surmised the plot of the film has something do to with Lightning McQueen getting caught up with James Bond-style secret agents when he travels the globe to race in the World Grand Prix. The game doesnít have much of a story and relies on only a few brief cutscenes scattered between missions to move things along Ė not that you really need a plot at all. This time Cars 2 is a pure racing game with a heavy dose of combat; no adventure and no exploration.
Lightning is just one of many cars you can select for each of the dozens of races, and you will unlock many more cars (characters) as you compete and earn various bronze, silver, and gold trophies in each event. A quick and easy tutorial teaches you all the basics Ė gas, brake, drift, driving in reverse, popping up on two wheels, and how to use all those wonderful weapons and power-ups. If youíve ever played Mario Kart or Blur then you know just what to expect from Cars 2 Ė only a whole lot cuter. Better yet, Cars 2 is family friendly with drop-in/out multiplayer for up to four players.
There are dozens upon dozens of events broken up into several stages, with each event taking place in one of several cities on a variety of tracks. Events vary from circuit racing with and without weapons to arena battles where you must hunt down and destroy as many enemies as possible within the time limit. You also have an Attack mode where you must drive laps and destroy cars called Lemons to keep adding time to your time limit, and the Survival mode has you racing laps collecting batteries to keep your shield charged to avoid a deadly satellite weapon. All of these modes are incredibly fun and some can get quite challenging, especially if you wonít settle for anything less than a gold trophy.
In addition to combat you can perform various melee attacks by using the right stick to sideswipe or ram your opponents. You can also use this same stick to perform tricks when airborne to fuel your turbo meter. This meter has four sections that can be triggered individually, or you can wait until all four are filled then use all at once in a super burst of speed combined with a protective shield.
Visually, Cars 2 looks fantastic with all of the color and charm of a Pixar movie. The car models look great and are lively animated and eerily human-like. The default race view is perfect for this style of combat racing. I would have enjoyed a rear-view mirror, especially given the amount of rear-firing weapons use. Hitting LB to look behind usually resulted in me wrecking. I did enjoy the animated icons of the other nearby cars that would actually show when I hit them with an oil slick or a missile. The tracks are gorgeous with both indoor and outdoor, daylight, and night time racing. The Italy track was by far one of the most scenic, but even racing around the tarmac at the airport or weaving through an oil rig was totally awesome. All of the power-up icons were colorful and the special effects were imaginative and entertaining.
The music and sound are just as good with fun music perfect for racing and plenty of cool effects for all the various weapons and resulting explosions. Many of the movieís voice actors contributed to the game making the whole experience very professional and a seamless tie-in with the film. Each character/car has plenty of cool quips and taunts, but they will repeat and get old if you donít change characters. Since cars vary in their power and speed stats, it's usually a good idea to pick cars best suited for each type of event.
Cars 2 will keep the kids and the entire family busy for weeks and weeks of gaming. I tried to stuff the entire game into about six hours and only got about half way through the career mode. And judging from the rapidly increasing difficulty the second half of the game is going to take a whole lot longer than the first. And then you have all the wonderful multiplayer modes and combat arenas, so if you arenít comfortably letting your kids play the new Twisted Metal game, then let them run and gun with Lightning and Mater and the rest of the gang. With dozens of cars and tracks to unlock (and more available as DLC) and plenty of fun achievements to quest after, Cars 2 is going to keep everyone glued to the Xbox for a long time.
Mario Kart finally gets some next-gen competition. Cars 2 delivers a fast, fun, challenging, and completely family-friendly (and family focused) racing game. It might look like a kiddie game on the outside, but there is some serious racing and some serious fun lurking under the hood for anybody who wants to play as their favorite animated automobile. Cars 2 is one wild ride!