Gamers across the world look forward to the major game releases that occur during the pre-Christmas period. Unfortunately, this is preceded by the summer drought, in which game releases are a rarity and the main game releases come in the form of film to video game tie-ins.
Summer 2011 has proved to be no different as Cars 2, from Disney Pixar, has raced onto consoles. Despite being titled Cars 2, the title is the fourth in the series after Cars, Cars: Mater-National and Cars: Race-O-Rama all went to retail.
The main game mode is Cars 2 is C.H.R.O.M.E. – the game’s equivalent of a story mode. The narrative consists of Lightning McQueen and his friends taking part in a secret spy organisation, known as C.H.R.O.M.E., and it’s their task to stop Professor Z’s plans to take over the world. Apart from the opening and closing cutscenes of the story, there is very little in the way of storytelling, something that will no doubt please gamers who are ready and raring to go.
The C.H.R.O.M.E. missions contain a variety of different race types to partake in. Race, Battle Race, Attack – in which players eliminate as many “Lemons” as possible, Survival – in which players collect batteries in order to charge their shields to protect them from attacks and Hunter – in which players attack Professor Z in his helicopter. The range of game modes is sufficient enough to keep players occupied during the game’s short playtime, approximately taking just a few hours to complete.
Each of the single player game modes is also available to play with up to four players in local multiplayer, along with two additional multiplayer-only game modes: Disruptor and Arena. Arena requires the players to eliminate each other using the game’s weapons – a simple yet effective game mode, while Disruptor has players picking up bombs and delivering it to the opponent’s base, while avoiding oncoming attacks. Unfortunately, this can prove to be more annoying than enjoyable as the base’s defences grow far too strong too quickly, making it almost impossible to finish, taking all the fun out of things. Surprisingly, there is a lack of an online multiplayer which may have benefitted the game in the short term; the online base would quickly decrease and therefore makes the decision to exclude it a good one.
The game’s weapons are the standard set you’ve expect from a game in the genre. Rockets, mines, oil slicks and homing missiles are pick-ups scattered throughout the game’s tracks, available to pick up and fire at fellow opponents. Whereas the game could have benefited with some more original power-ups, the ones already on offer suffice.
Those who have seen the film will be accustom to the game’s environments and race tracks, which have been very well designed, including an airport, London, Tokyo, Italy and Radiator Springs – all of which have been well recreated in video game form. The track’s shortcuts have been well-placed so that they’re not particularly easy to gain entry to, but when racers do, they are very rewarding.
Players have a good choice of cars to choose from, being able to select between the film’s stars plus more, including the likes of Lightning McQueen, Fillmore and Acer. Each of the cars is rated by weight class (light, medium and heavy) and by speed and power. The choice of car is vital to the race’s success with light, speedy cars being able to drive faster, though not being able to withstand many attacks and vice versa. On the whole, the cars have been well designed and implemented into the game.
The car’s handling, while it does take some getting used to, is easy to get to grips with. Additionally, each car is also able to pull off a number of tricks, such as the ability to jump, drift, ride on two wheels, along with the ability to drive backwards. With the exception of jump and drift, the other skills aren’t particularly useful unless players are after the game’s achievements.
As you would expect from a film to game tie-in, the game’s achievements can easily be unlocked. Whether it’s driving through a certain number of objects on a particular track or collective achievements such as spending twenty minutes in the air, the full one thousand GamerScore is easily obtainable.
Graphically, Cars 2 is quite impressive. The little detail in the environments and in the cars themselves (especially the reflections) is to a very good standard. As for the audio, the voice actors who appeared in the film also appear in the game – a nice touch that brilliantly extends the cinema experience to the home.
Overall, Cars 2 is surprisingly enjoyable. While there’s a distinct lack of storytelling, this isn’t a particularly bad thing for a racing title. The campaign could have done with being a bit longer and there’s little replayability after it has been completed but, other than that, this is a great title that shouldn’t be overlooked for being a kid’s game.