Published by Sony Computer
Developed by Virtual Toys
I haven’t enjoyed many games that use movies as their source material over the years. Surprisingly however, one of the games I quite enjoyed was the original Cars video game. Sure, it’s never going to be regarded as one of the best racing games on this generation of consoles but the races were enjoyable and it felt correctly pitched at its target audience. When Disney Pixar Cars 2 (I’ll just call it Cars 2 from on) arrived for review then, I had hopes it would be just as enjoyable.
If you’re expecting Cars 2 to be a straightforward racer, you’re going to be in for a surprise. In many respects it feels like a slot-car racer as your focus is on changing lanes in addition to accelerating and decelerating. There’s also some vehicular combat thrown in for good measure too and there are plenty of obstacles that adorn the tracks. So far it seems like Cars 2 might offer some promise but it’s essentially a frustrating experience that I don’t think is ideally suited to its target audience.
The game offers a Free Play, a C.H.R.O.M.E. mission mode and a local multiplayer mode (which we didn't experience having only a single copy of the game). In Free Play you can take part in five different race types called: Race, Attack, Battle Race, Eliminator and Against the Clock races. The mission mode allows you to play through progressively difficult missions which range from a tutorial to increasingly difficult races. The game offers three difficultly settings and you can earn a variety of badges and achievements and unlock an assortment of cars from the Cars 2 movie, in addition to new tracks and modes.
In Cars 2 you’ll be involved in races with up to three AI drivers. On the tracks you’ll encounter various obstacles such as pipes, construction vehicles and barriers that will stop you in your tracks should you hit them (causing you to lose a fair amount of time). As you drive around the tracks you’ll be able to collect energy which enables you to use your turbo. If you manage to fill your four energy slots you’ll be able to use the ‘In the Zone’ ability which is essentially an extended turbo boost in addition to providing you with a temporary shield. Depending on the race type, you’ll also have to contend with AI drivers firing at you, although you’ll be able to fire the weapons you’ve collected in return. You also have access to a shield function to help protect you against the weapon fire.
The presentation of the game, on the whole, is decent but there are some problems. For a PSP game, Cars 2 looks pretty good. The frame rate holds up nicely too, although the load times are rather long. Probably the biggest problem is the camera angle which doesn’t afford you a clear view of the track at all times. The camera angle is fixed and there are occasions when you have little notice of obstacles until they are practically right in front of you. This becomes less of a problem as you familiarise yourself with a track but is this something that’s really expected of the younger children this game is aimed at?
Probably more disappointing, but probably not as serious, is the absence of subtitles in the game. Tutorial information is given in text, likewise for the mission objectives but none of the characters’ dialogue is subtitled. This means you’ll miss out on all of the dialogue in cut scenes (which is actually minimal), during the races, in the Garage (where you’ll look at the various cars in the game) and on the menus when you’re selecting which car to drive. Missing out on all of this dialogue is unfortunate but none of these omissions will prevent you from playing the game.
Disney Pixar Cars 2, whilst by no means a bad game, is ultimately a disappointment. The fixed camera angles, which don’t offer a decent viewing angle, essentially add a level of frustration into the experience which just shouldn’t have been there. The absence of subtitles is also a problem. Even if these two issues didn’t exist however, Cars 2 wouldn’t have felt like a satisfactory sequel to the original Cars game. As it stands this is probably only for those who are absolutely crazy about the Cars universe and who don’t mind being hampered by the game’s problems. Given this game is aimed at children however, I can’t see too many of them being satisfied with how the game has turned out.