I’m usually wary of games that come from films or animations, but Cars 2 is an exception. The game sees our main protagonists (Lightning McQueen and Mater) trying to qualify to become spies so they can go against Professor Zundapp. If you have seen Cars 2 the film, the game is right on with the plot and really makes you feel a part of it and there’s so much good here that it’s easy to forget it’s meant for a younger/family audience. Cars 2 has an appeal that is not age specific, and my friends as well as family really loved playing it.
When you turn the game on you see lots of options that you can scroll across in the middle of the screen. This screen is very futuristic and clean; modes available include the Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage (C.H.R.O.M.E) missions, free play, awards, options, garage and world of cars. The best place to begin are the C.H.R.O.M.E missions, and once you enter this mode, you need to undertake the new agent training mode with its very useful tutorial that explains every move and control in the game. I found this very helpful as its short, informative and gives you exactly what you need.
The controls themselves are simple and yet slightly unconventional. You accelerate with R2 and reverse with L2, the left analogue stick is used for movement of your car whilst the right stick initiates some very cool moves. Pushing it forward makes you drive on two wheels, pulling it back makes your drive back to front (yup I said that), pushing it left or right cause your car to shunt other cars out of the way. The X button is used for jumping, the square button is turbo and the triangle button is to release the various weapons you collect. Drifting has not been forgotten either, and is achieved by turning with the left analogue stick and holding circle.
All these moves are done so you earn energy to boost with and gain advantages over your fellow racers. To help you further with this, you also have the ability to pull off moves in mid-air which, again, are performed via the right analogue stick. Simply jump and pull the stick in a certain direction to start a barrel roll or a 180 spin which are fun and amazing to do. They look great and feel smooth. All the above controls may sound a lot, but they work, a very good job has been done to map every function of the game to all the available buttons. There are no complex movements or controls and for me the setup here is dead on.
The C.H.R.O.M.E missions have 5 clearance levels giving you around 40 tracks to play in different locations across the world. In free play mode you can either race, battle race, time attack or enter a survival race. Then, during multiplayer you can enter the multiplayer arena and undertake the disruptor challenge as well as hunter modes. Trust me, these will keep you busy for a good long time. There are also numerous awards to collect including, badges and crests. These are collected based on challenges during the single player missions and based on p0nts you get from placing first, second and third.
In the garage mode, you can view all the agents you have unlocked and there are a total of 35 cars to play as. They all look good, have their own personalities and sayings, and they are just as fun to play as they seem they would be in the film. An interesting option in Cars 2 is the World of Cars mode. This is a browser-based game that is based on Cars and is a good way to allow users, especially big fans, to explore the Cars universe further.
The graphics here are very bright, bold and colourful. They are not cutting edge and sometimes the environments can become blocky. The cars, however, look perfect and their expressions and eyes behave exactly as in the animated movie. The menus are very polished and slick, and the overall feel of this game graphics-wise is very acceptable yet not stunning.
The music in Cars 2 is very well done. Each location has its own tune and the voice acting is top class. The engine sounds are great and varied from the loud F1 cars to the purr of the sports cars and the clunky sounds of the trucks. Everything has been taken care of in the sound department.
The multiplayer, sadly, is not online, however, you can play up to 4 players simultaneously in a drop in, drop out fashion. This is also the case for the single player C.H.R.O.M.E missions where you can have up to 3 friends join in as you complete the campaign mode. The multiplayer is extremely fun, and dare I say, a rival for Mario Kart? There are so many weapons to collect and fire, including lasers, smart bombs, turbos and machine guns. Trust me when I say that it really is a lot of fun with your friends around. Since this is a Disney game, its very family friendly and any age can play thanks to Cars 2 being instantly accessible to all ages (I tested it with my parents).
Overall, Cars 2 is a hugely fun racing game, I believe it’s also a competitor for Mario Kart based on how entertaining the weapons and the sheer joy of beating your friends is. Whilst the graphics are not world class, the cars are recreated with love. You can see the sunshine of their paintwork and the climates are done very well. Music-wise I love the country specific tunes we get and the voice acting is, of course, all from the movie, with the voices of Michael Caine, Eddie Izzard and Emily Mortimer to name just a few. The multiplayer is where this game shines in my opinion, however the single player is nothing to cry about as it will give you a solid amount of fun as you guide your cars to qualify in their mission to be spies and end Professor Zundapps evils plans. Give this a go, you won’t regret it. Well done Avalanche Software, this is a gem of racing game.
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