Whether you enjoy the films or not, Cars has always offered a decent gaming experience, ever since the first game on PS2 in 2006.
With the game appearing in eShop sales on the Switch, we’re having a look with fresh eyes to see whether this is the family-friendly speed fest it should be, or whether the diminutive Switch hardware struggles to deliver this multiplatform game.
The verdict? Well, to wreck a perfectly good quote: the stuff is the reward, not the racing.
And for ‘stuff’ read ‘action’. This is an explosive, action-packed festival of speed, only with little baseline requirement of finesse. Rubberbanding sees rival cars visibly wait for you up the road if you slow down. Hit any object head-on and the game resets you to the track without you needing to lift a finger, let alone engage reverse gear.
And you don’t even need the brakes, especially since there’s a dedicated ‘drift’ button to get you around the tougher corners.
The upshot of this is that it’s going for fun in a vintage Midway kind of way. And there’s absolutely always something to do, whether that’s fire a missile at the guy ahead, drive on two wheels to light up a row of chevrons, jump over obstacles or simply drive backwards around the track.
It could threaten to be too involved, but it’s all optional and the game pops up handy control hints to tell you what would be the best move in the current situation. It isn’t obtrusive, and there’s usually some element of skill involved to get the best results.
And that’s where the game really succeeds. It’s simple enough that even younger players can have fun piloting their favourite car around the many tracks, but if you want to really get the most out of it, unlock all the bonus modes and challenges and fill up the ‘Hall of Fame’ checklist of side-missions, you’re going to need some proper joypad dexterity. Everyone’s a winner.
The game is also designed for local multiplayer fun and, after the intro race at least, is immediately playable in split screen.
The game is hardly a looker at the best of times, but playing in split-screen does suddenly feel a lot like a Gamecube game, with muddy textures and shadow redraw, dodgy frame rates and a low-resolution appearance. But it is still playable and it’s just as frantic and action-packed as the solo modes.
There’s a lot of content here, with new and returning tracks and even a free-roaming playground side mode complete with its own challenges.
It’s also packed full of speech from the cars around you, although the soundalike voice actors aren’t always convincing if you know the films, which is a pity. The post-race ‘analysis’ from Chick Hicks grates quite quickly, but the voice clips are at least plentiful and don’t repeat too quickly. The presentation is commendably slick and does a good job of putting the movie universe into your hands.
So it’s a large, content-rich, game with a heavy arcade slant, constantly involved and occasionally spectacular, but tempered with the technical limitations of the Switch hardware.
It’s not really a ‘racing game’ as we know it here at Traxion.GG, but as a gateway to greater things for younger players, or just more casual fun for fans of the film, there’s an enjoyable game here waiting to entertain you.
|13th June 2017
|Nintendo Switch, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U
|Best played with
|Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode
Full disclosure: This game was purchased for review purposes. Here is our review policy.