Game Review: Cars 2 Video Game

Hearing that there would be a Cars 2 video game, it was not difficult to imagine where developer Avalanche Software would take it. They could have simply churned out a little racing game and walked away with some easy money in their pockets. However, sitting down and playing thoroughly through it, it is apparent that Avalanche put in a good deal of work to make this not only a creative racing game, but one that has huge replay value due to its awesome multiplayer modes and just how much damn fun it is. Read on for my review of “Cars 2: The Video Game.”

Pixar worked closely with Avalanche to formulate a video game world that works hand-in-hand with Cars 2. The story has the plot of the game picking up after the film’s storyline, but don’t worry – if you haven’t watched the film yet, the game does not spoil the film. Lightning McQueen, Holley Shiftwell, Finn McMissile, Mater, and many more are the playable characters who are drafted into C.H.R.O.M.E. (Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage), a secret spy organization that employs simulations for training. The simulations allow for craziness to ensue – characters can pick up a machine gun and start firing, or use a turbo boost to go into overdrive. The fact that these simulations take place outside of the real world means that the rules of the film world are not violated.

When you first pop in the dic into your console (I played the XBox 360 version, which is essentially the same as the Playstation 3, Wii, PC, and MAC versions), you are instructed to complete several missions, which first start with teaching you how to move about and perform tricks and then move on to throwing you into battle and survival modes. This structure is nice, as the earlier modes serve as tutorials for understanding the way of the game. As missions are completed, more game modes and playable characters are unlocked. The missions can be completed by one player or by up to four playing together.

Together. That is the way this game is meant to be played. While the AI has worthy opponents (you can set their level of difficulty), there is nothing like trash-talking your friend, your spouse, or your brother as you drive by past them after shooting them down. In that regard, “Cars 2: The Video Game” lines up with the great kart-racers of our generation. You have turbo boost, crazy weapons, shortcuts, tricks that can be performed – all there to keep the entire battle or race exciting, intense, and neck-and-neck. Just because you’re in last place during the laps, does not mean you’re out of the running for one of the top positions!

There are a few minor issues I had with the game. When a weapon on the track is picked up, while it becomes visually attached to the car, there is no “box” on the screen to alert you which weapon you are now armed with. Additionally, while you have your position ranking available to you during races, there is no map, which makes it a bit difficult to judge how far you are from the finish line. True, after playing around with it for a little while, you will be able to pick up on these more easily, but they are still missed.

Overall, the game rivals some of the best racers that are out there right now. The main essentials of a racing game (straight-up racing, diverse selection of vs. modes, high replay-value, fluid controls) are all well-represented. Did I mention that it’s filled with beautiful visuals to boot? It is easy to pick-up-and-play and is just a great deal of fun. As far as licensed games go, this is towards the top of the heap, similar to Avalanche’s Toy Story 3 game last year. Pixar working with the game developer seems to be a match made in heaven. Once again, Avalanche Software has blown my expectations away by producing a game that goes way beyond the minimum into great-game-territory.

Rating: 8.5/10

“Cars 2: The Video Game” is available now for the XBox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, DS, PC, and MAC.

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