Most gamers will know that games based on movies tend to turn out rather poorly. It’s very rare that a game is able to capture even a fraction of the movie’s original charm or style, so it’s easy to dismiss these cheap knock-offs. But I was pleasantly surprised by Cars 2 on the Playstation 3, and I’m happy to say that if you enjoyed the move, you’re likely to have just as much fun with the game.
Thankfully, the video game doesn’t attempt to play off the movie’s storyline, which is where most similar games fail miserably. There’s no real story to the game which may seem a bit odd, but the gameplay is fun enough to keep you distracted. You play as Lightning McQueen or any of the film’s characters, each with their own strengths and take part in a series of races as you train to be a top-class spy with CHROME (the Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage; not the web browser). The game kicks off with an in-depth (and slightly long) series of tutorials, that teach you the basics of driving as well as test runs through the different events. It’s a bit of a shame that all the content is locked until the training is finished, but after 20 minutes I was able to finally wrap up the training mode.
The game’s bread and butter is in the standard race mode, where you tear around various locations in a bid to cross the finish line first. Scattered around the track are power ups to allow you to boost, and if you fill up your entire boost bar you can execute a rather terrifying “CHROME Commissioned” turbo boost which is a great way to get from last to first place in a matter of seconds. You can also gain boost by jumps and performing tricks across the track – these are deftly executed by a quick flick of the right anlog stick to ride on two wheels or even race backwards. You can also tap the right stick left or right to slam into opponents, which is a rather effective way to jump ahead in the race. You also have access to Attack events, which again sees you racing around tracks but picking up some rather deadly weapons such as missiles or machine guns, and even small exploding RC cars. Outside of this, there are a total of six different events that you can race in, so there’s a fair amount to explore in the game. While the single-player race experience can keep you occupied for a while, the game really does become a lot more fun with local multiplayer support for up to four players. Racing against your friends and pummeling them with rockets makes for countless hours of fun.
Graphically the game looks very good – each car’s look and personality mirrors their movie counterparts, so it’s clear that Pixar had quite a say in the game’s development to ensure that each car was true to form. The audio clips of each car are also fun to listen to during the races, though some of Mater’s repeated lines can get a bit annoying. There were no visible graphical glitches or issues when I played the game which is (for me at least) another first.
At its heart, Cars 2 is a very simple racing game with a few tricks and quirks that keep the action fun, so anyone looking or a casual racing game should give this one a shot. The lack of a proper story means that you’re racing when you feel like it, but the competitive local multiplayer modes will see you through a couple of enjoyable hours. It’s a shame that there’s no online multiplayer available, but given the game’s kid-friendly rating it was probably best to leave it out.