Do kids still play with cars nowadays? We guess so, given the rampant Hot Wheels advertising present on Saturday morning TV. Still, it’s good, clean fun, and while we didn’t have sky-high hopes for the Wii re-imagining of Hot Wheels, this is a title you’ll be able to happily leave your kids with on Boxing Day, as you nurse that tender head and stomach.
So, obviously, Track Attack is about the Hot Wheels franchise, and the idea appears to have been to recreate the whacky experience of playing with the minute motors. We can’t really comment on exactly how close it gets to that, simply because we’ve lost too much of our inner child to spend much time playing with toy cars. Yes, it does seem something of a tragedy, doesn’t it?
What you need in any racer is decent control, and as a starting point, Track Attack gets it right all round. Using the motion control is an obvious move for any developer of a racing title, but on the occasions that they get it wrong, you can near enough write the whole game off. Given the outlandish courses that Track Attack possesses, decent control is even more of a must. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about that aspect. Even in the most demanding of races (which isn’t tremendously demanding, anyway), you’ll never have anything but yourself to blame for losing.
Similarly, the visuals are bright, engaging and colourful. There’s not a whole lot to the HUD, so you can concentrate on the racing right the way round the courses. As far as additions go, there’s nothing out of the ordinary, but at the same time, there are no game breaking powerups or indeed anything that takes attention away from the races.
You’ll also find the multiplayer a simplistic joy as well. Four player split screen may not look great, but it does the job, and provides the right kind of fun for the intended audience. There are team modes, token collecting efforts, and plenty of healthy competition and family fun to be had here, and without any barrier to the game, you can pick up and play with tremendous ease.
So the basics are all there. From a purely technical point of view, you might lose a little respect for the game after a few glitchy moments, as you careen through walls or get shot off into space by a game bug, but these are relatively few and far between, and are actually quite amusing. As long as they don’t lose you the race, that is.
We do have more profound issues with the game, but these are things that, frankly, don’t deserve to come into a review about what is essentially a title for 3-10 year-olds. For example, things like the mouthy race announcer – who if you met him in real life, wouldn’t last five minutes before you dragged him outside and started wailing on him – will irritate the hell out of you, but the constant spewing of noise will add to the experience your kid has with the game. Other, similar issues you might have are also negated by the budget price tag, which makes the whole package far more appealing.
One feature we expected to be somewhat lackadaisical was the course editor. Now, a title like Hot Wheels: Track Attack has two problems to overcome. Firstly, it needs to be simple enough for a child of 3+ to use, and secondly, in order to actually be worthwhile, it needs to be fun. Or, at very least, lead to a fun course. Hot Wheels passes with merit on both of these counts. There’s not really much you can’t do with the editor, and it has near enough anything you could conceive to put on a race course. Within minutes you have a working race that you have designed yourself, and you can race, test and rework your model with surprising ease.
Hot Wheels: Track Attack is functional at worst and excellent at best. It’s fairly safe to say that anyone older than around twelve should think twice about this as a title with any kind of longevity, but for its intended audience, it will almost certainly provide ample entertainment.
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