Review – Cars 2: The Video Game

Mater and Lightning McQueen will be back on the big screen this weekend, but their video game launches ahead of their big Hollywood release.  Should you take it for a spin, or should they have stayed in the theaters? Read our review after the jump to find out.

Disney Pixar is well known for their big screen animation releases, and they teamed up again with Avalanche Studios to create a companion video game for their upcoming movie Cars 2. Their previous collaboration was for the Toy Story 3 video game and it was released to rave reviews. Historically, most movie companion games aren’t very good, and they usually just rehash the exact same storyline from the movie. With Cars 2, Avalanche took a different route and created a storyline that picks up where the movie left off.

The story has you chasing the nefarious Professor Z, and battling through his army of cars, known as Lemons, in an attempt to bring the professor to justice. You’ll train in the international training center –C.H.R.O.M.E. (Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage). This is the nerve center for everything that happens in the game.

Professor Z

You’ll start out as a trainee, and the tutorial is very helpful. It will teach you the basic controls for your car, and more advanced controls as you progress along. Once you have completed the tutorial, you’ll move up in rank to Clearance Level 1, which unlocks the first set of missions. There are six sets of missions in all, with six events per set, and leveling up unlocks the next set.

Lightning McQueen and Mater are ready to roll

Gameplay is kart based, and you’ll get to play as Mater or Lightning McQueen, as well as some brand new characters. There are over twenty cars to choose from once they are all unlocked. Each car is a unique character and they bring along their well known personalities. The cars are broken down into three separate classes, and each class has its own pros and cons.

  • The Light class has great acceleration, but a low top end. they are smaller cars and handle very tight and responsive. The Light class includes Guido the tire changer.
  • The Medium class is more balanced between speed and power. Decent take off with a decent top end. Lightning McQueen is a prime example of the Medium class.
  • The Heavy class is good on power, but it might take a while to get up to their top speed. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Mater is your typical Heavy class car.

Driving the cars doesn’t take much skill, but learning the tracks and the tricks, takes a little more. You can perform tricks and drifts to power up your boost gauge, as well as pick up little ‘All-in-All’ cans that will power it up as well. Drifting can be turned to auto or you can set it to where you’ll have to press a button to start a drift. Setting it to auto makes the game easier for younger folks, and doesn’t take away from the experience. You can jump, flip, roll, drive backwards, or on two wheels at any time, and all of those can help build your boost gauge. There are breakable objects like billboards that also build boost.

The tracks were all created by Pixar to be used in the movie. There are 15 tracks in all, and you’ll unlock them as you move along the C.H.R.O.M.E. career path. Once unlocked, you can then use them in Free Play mode. The locations for the tracks are in London, Porta Corsa and Tokyo, as well as Radiator Springs. Every track has short cuts, and finding all of these is definitely in your best interest. As in any kart style game, the one who knows the fastest route, generally wins all the races.

For actual events, there are seven different types to choose from.

  • Race, where the fastest car wins.
  • Battle Race, where you not only have to be fast, but you’ll have to find weapons to pick up and use against your opponents.
  • Attack mode has you making as many laps as you can until the clock runs out. Time can be extended by taking out as many Lemons as possible, so keep an eye out for those weapon pick-ups.
  • Survival mode also has you making as many laps as possible, but this time it’s your energy that will run out. You’ll need to pick up batteries around the track, and you’ll have opportunities to take out chase cars which will then drop even more energy refills.
  • Hunter mode has you taking out as many bad guys as possible in a set amount of time.
  • Arena mode is an open battlefield style game where you take out enemies in waves, and rack up as many points as possible.
  • Last but not least, is the Disruptor mode. Not something seen very often in kart style games, it is your standard capture the flag game. It is up to you to capture your opponents flag and drive it back to your base. Sounds simple enough, but carrying the flag slows you down considerably, and your opponents will do everything they can to take you out.
  • While not really a game mode, there is a Squad Series mode that works like a playlist. This will allow you to set up several different types of modes that will then play one after the other.

Arena mode and Disruptor mode are the true multiplayer modes and can only be played in open play if you have more than one controller connected. There is no online multiplayer for cars 2, and this is because the Pixar director, John Lasseter, wanted to create an environment where friends and family could all play in the same room. With most Cars fans being little kiddos, that seems only fitting.

The graphics for the game are top notch. Exactly what you would expect from anything with the Pixar name attached to it. The details for all of the cars are spot on matches for their movie counterparts, right down to the stickers on Lightning McQueen’s fenders. We weren’t able to try out the 3D functionality, but for those of you with a PS3 and a 3D TV, the game has full 3D support ready and waiting.

Disney Interactive took the game a step further by introducing a free-to-play web based game that is played via your web browser and pc called “World of Cars Online.” Your console can be linked to your web based account, and in turn this will unlock rewards for both your console game, and your web based game. It’s a rather fun and addicting game to play online.

Cars 2: The Video Game does a wonderful job of expanding the Cars 2 world that is created by the movie, and extends it in a way that should entertain, and help bring to life, the characters introduced in the first movie, as well as in the the upcoming sequel.

If you have a Cars fan in your house, they need to play this game. Kudos to Pixar and Avalanche on another well done movie companion game.