Rather than being farmed out to an unheard of development studio to knock out on the cheap, THQ handed the development rights to Cars over to Rainbow Studios, best known for the publisher’s own MX Unleashed and ATV: Off Road Fury titles. This makes perfect sense to us given the source material.
A lack of originality probably won’t surprise you, ostensibly being a cartoon styled racing game and all, but the diversity might. The tracks range from three lap races around dusty deserts to twelve lap Nascar-style affairs against twenty other vehicles, while the mini-games include ‘tractor tipping’ – an amusing take on cow tipping. A short while into story mode the ability to boost becomes available and it’s also possible to get paint jobs. Or body art, as it’s officially known as in the Cars’ human-free universe.
The main story mode comes in two flavors – a shorter, easier romp for the youngsters and a longer more challenging one for ‘older’ gamers. Naturally the handling is very forgiving, with the cars pretty much sticking to the track like glue, but most tracks have shortcuts to find and not all missions involve racing – one sees you driving around town looking for missing postcards, for instance. The stars of the show have little conversations during races and comically cry out in pain when steered into objects. The speech grates a bit after a while, however. During races points are gained for power sliding, staying in 1st place for a complete lap and the like and can be used to unlock movie clips – including deleted scenes – and other extras.
Last year Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Four and Madagascar clogged up the top 10 for months; none one of which was worthy of doing so. Undoubtedly Cars will stay in the top 10 over the summer months, and to be frank we have no problems with this. It looks bright and breezy with good trackside detail and near perfect lip-synching, the lyrical – presumably licensed – soundtrack is pretty decent and there’s enough variety to keep interest levels up.
There are healthier ways to keep the tykes entertained this summer – forcing them to walk down to the local B&Q to buy a tin of tartan paint springs to mind – but rest assured that this will keep them entertained for longer than the mediocre Finding Nemo and The Incredibles tie-ins.
The extra layer of wax hasn’t gone unnoticed.