Review By: Siou Choy
|# Of Players:||1-2|
"Cars". What to say, what to say… Hmm…let’s see. Well, Cars is definitely one of those games geared towards kids. Exclusively. And kids who are fans of the movie, at that. That said, the game does have a tendency to grow on you after awhile, in an insidious fashion incomprehensible to the rational mind (which positively screams "it’s crap! It’s crap!" at deafening levels of volume throughout gameplay).
Controls for the racing mini games are appropriately simple enough. Of course, given the videogaming industry’s less than stellar record with believable on-road simulation, there are points when the cars do not respond as they should, and some inappropriate out of control sliding can occur. Piston Cup races also require that you make an absurd amount of laps around the track (literally, 12!) prior to completion. Now, I don’t know about anybody else, but circling the same track over and over without change of scenery or action doesn’t exactly appeal to me. Halfway through, the action halts for a pit stop, which becomes a mini game in and of itself. Here, you have to help your pit crew change your tires and clean your windshield by following a series of Shenmue-style button combinations shown on screen.
The rather annoying characterizations of the game are down to the actual voice actors of the movie, and even strangers to this doubtless cinematic masterwork for the ages might recognize a voice or two. One of the more absurd and broadly stereotypical characterizations had me exclaiming in bemusement "good God, this one sounds like Cheech"…only to find out that it actually was!
There are a few other (rather absurd and pointless) mini-games which can be unlocked in the game, ranging from such popular intellectual pursuits as tractor tipping and collecting the mail.
As you can probably tell from the last two sentences, Cars really plays up to some rather absurd, if not reprehensible stereotypes, something I’ll have to assume is wholly attributable to the movie it’s licensed from. It’s as if Pixar sat down at a board meeting and said "OK, now who likes racing?", and the best answer they could dream up was "toothless hicks, cow-tippers and tractor pullers". If you’re not offended by this sort of demeaning target marketing, Cars, much like the recent Dukes of Hazzard remake, should be right up your alley. Can I get a "yee-ha"?
Each time you complete a given task or place in the top three positions in a Story Mode race, a new part of the game is unlocked. In trying to give an open-ended feel to the game, the developers leave the unsuspecting victim to roam around town aimlessly, searching for spots to start a race, complete tasks, or learn such vital life skills as how to "powerslide". I’d appreciate having an option to just go directly to the next race or event without having to wander around cluelessly (which is downright headache inducing, and the same glaring gaming flaw that marred Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition).
One of the more annoying things about the game (beyond its overwhelmingly pandering attitude towards its target audience) is found in its races: should you happen to drive off the track (which is unbelievably easy to do), the game begins an absurdly brief (3 second!) countdown during which you must return to the proscribed route, or risk being "reset" to what the game considers "the proper spot", losing time (and position) in the process. This is fine if, for example, you make a bad turn and wind up driving off a cliff, but not (as is far more frequently the case) if you sway a few inches to the side or find yourself caught on the wrong side of a billboard. What should have been a standard, few second deviation from course turns into a major production number, and a somewhat costly one at that (in terms of both loss of time/position and general gamer annoyance).
Ultimately, when all is said and done, Cars doesn’t provide much of a challenge. There were very few times during that I found myself thinking I couldn’t win a given race (or at least end up in the top three positions). That, and the fact that kids’ movies, particularly Disney and Pixar based kids’ movies…well, they kinda suck. ‘Nuff said…
Such as it is, Cars does line up as one of the few licensed games that appears to have some effort put into its creation. The kiddies (and Disney/Pixar zombies of all ages) should definitely enjoy this one, and who knows, if you’re not that discriminating in taste, you may too.
Posted: 2006-07-15 13:30:20 PST