A few weeks back, while I was on Pixar’s campus in Emeryville I had the chance to spend some quality time with “Cars 2: The Video Game.” During the Cars 2 press event at Toy Fair, I reported that the game was shaping up quite nicely. However, that was based solely on observations. Now that I have had actual hands-on time with the game, I can say with some more confidence that it looks like we are getting another great game from Avalanche Software.
Before I go any further into my experience playing with the game, I should say that the game was still unfinished (according to those at the event, it was about 80% completed). While it was close to being finalized, Avalanche is still in the process of tweaking it, so these do not represent my final thoughts on the video game.
Pixar, Disney Interactive, and Avalanche could have taken the easy route and turned out a simple racing game, but it seems they were not satisfied with that approach. The result of all that hard work has led to a game that is so much more than a “simple racer.” This thing is packed with a variety of different modes. Not only do we have the standard storyline mode, which works in-tandem with the film – we also have the modes where this game will likely shine. Two words: multiplayer modes.
The multiplayer modes play out similar to many of those ‘other’ famous racing games, where players can pick up power-ups and weapons to use on opponents along the course of the tracks. The game will appeal to the more experienced gamer as well as the novice, as players have the ability to perform tough tricks to raise a meter, which can be used to speed up. The interesting thing that the developers have done is that these tricks are difficult to control, so the potential for losing control can be high. This is a great approach to keeping the game balanced for the young and the older. Other aspects of the game that will appeal to more hardcore gamers include a capture-the-flag-type mode.
Controlling the game was smooth and intuitive, which served as a reminder that the ability for people to easily pick-up-and-play a racer is essential. Terrible control design can be disastrous for racers (and basically every other type of game) as races can be decided by seconds. More importantly, unintuitive controls can completely destroy all semblances of an enjoyable experience. It is nice to see that the controls were mapped rather well, which will encourage gamers to return to it (especially when guests arrive).
Finally, Pixar’s role in the development process was touched upon in my discussion with a representative from Avalanche. The animation studio has once again played a large role throughout the production of the game. Recently, John Lasseter has talked about how much he enjoys video games so it definitely looks like the increased emphasis on the games based on Pixar’s properties is leading to better things all around. The biggest winners? The players.
“Cars 2: The Video Game” is scheduled to hit retail shelves on June 21!