Hot Wheels Unleashed game review: the good, the bad and the small

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This week Hot Wheels Unleashed is one of the best video games ever made using licensed toy cars. To be fair, this specific concept isn’t necessarily common in the game, but the legendary Codemasters Micro machines The series holds a lot of water for a certain type of arcade racing fan. It’s a decent business to land in.

Yet while beautifully modeled miniature cars and cute environments may look like a base for beginner-friendly racing, that’s not the case here. During my week of testing the game before launching this week, I found that Hot Wheels Unleashed feels like a Micro machines skin above modern, hardcore-leaning Trackmania series. It’s not a bad thing and I had a great time with it unleashed to write about this to Ars, because I think some people will really like what’s going on here.

But you’ll have a better time with it HWU Going into it fully aware of its weird and tricky design decisions, as well as quibbles about its economy of cars and tracks in the game.

Boost with straight plump and plastic dishes

Hot Wheels Unleashed [PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox, PC]

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HWU returns to an older arcade racing era by opening up with very few racing tracks to choose from and a campaign you must play to unlock much of the game’s content. You start with three small cars selected at the chance, which are split between Hot Wheels facsimiles of actual cars and the company’s own toys; the latter group ranges from sedans to racing cars to Kitt’s Knight rider to wheeled dinosaurs. With each campaign level you beat, you unlock “coins” (which can be spent on new cars) and “gears” (which can upgrade existing cars).

Each race track unleashed combines a prefabricated part and a series of recognizable plastic Hot Wheels tracks, usually bright orange or blue. Imagine walking into someone’s garage and then hauling an almost endless budget of plastic straights, curves, curls, and more. throughout the space, while occasionally using the geometry of this world (a table, a counter) in a given race. line. It is HWU.

The developers of Milestone, longtime creators of the MotoGP series, stripped just about everything Mario kart-ness out of this colorful affair. Instead of picking up weapons, bananas, or random items, drivers should rack up and spend a nitro-boost meter, which mostly increases as you drift. Hit the brakes in the middle of a high-speed turn and you’ll enter a drift that feels arcade but not entirely unrealistic. It is more Forza Horizon than Peak runner Where Mario kart. The more you drift, the more your boost meter goes up, although the race tracks include purple and green stripes that you can cycle through for instant and free boosts as well.

The result, in terms of pure driving, is above all an explosion. Drifting around an abnormally curved plastic track curve is nice, as it comes with a legitimate sense of speed, a clear formula for handling your specific car for optimal drift and satisfaction. whoos to press your boost button after a successful drift into a meaty straight away. And Milestone has used their years of racing game development to create their own amazing racing tracks within the Hot Wheels universe, especially when the tracks alternate between plastic constructions and real environments.

Funny cars, serious physique

I can’t really say that I found outright stinks among the 40 built-in tracks, although their reliance on identical plastic builds and five frequently reused real-world scenes kills the tracks’ ability to stay in my mind. as recognizable favorites. Once again, I run into the hipster basement with a pool table, gamer desk, and a variety of plastic tracks that include wild loops and turns filled with nitro. Everything can start to fade.

Additionally, the physical model of “small cars traveling at high speed on winding tracks” is arguably too realistic, at least for cars that leave the track at any time and require “hold Y to restart” prompts. . unleashedThe momentum stops abruptly in these moments, and without a legitimate tutorial that explains “funny cars, serious physics,” that leads to a rage-inducing learning experience. Some of the upside down moments include “electric” tracks that hold your car’s wheels in place, but this is an exception. A decent part of the game involves keeping an eye out for sudden elevation changes that could knock a car off the track, if it accelerates at the wrong time. Worse, HWU allows players to rotate their car while flying through the air. So you can do unnecessary and fun 360-degree rotations while doing an expected leap over a hilarious and thrilling gap. But there is no way to change the path of your car in the air towards a preferred landing point, if you launch from the wrong angle.

HWU includes animated plastic beasts meant to add fun and silliness to the tracks. A massive spider can shoot webs that slow cars down the oncoming track, and a snake’s mouth can open and close like a door to your next destination. But tells about these monsters are tragically missing in the launch version of the game. The Serpent’s Mouth does not include a countdown timer or visual clue as to when it will open or close, so the only safe option is is slamming the brakes when you see one, no matter what. Spider webs are usually encouraged by computer-aided cheating, which means they’ll usually land right in your running path with too little time to stray. These monsters, as they are currently coded, crush the fun every time they show up. Milestone, please revise them.

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