The new Disney Pixar animation Cars 2 has been out for a while now, so it’s no surprise that there is a bundle of games to go along with the movie. Cars 2 for the PSP is, unsurprisingly, a racing game with different modes, weapons and multiplayer. On the surface this all sounds pretty good and normal, but, while there are some important differences compared to other racing games, these features are also the ones that may divide opinion.
The main characters that are present in the movie are present here, including Lightning McQueen, Mater, Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell. We follow the exploits of McQueen and Mater as they undergo training to be spies in the Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage, or C.H.R.O.M.E. Their main aim is to stop the evil Professor Zundapp and his minions.
The main menu gives you lots of different options to choose from: Free Play, C.H.R.O.M.E missions, Badges, Multiplayer and Garage. In free play mode, you can take part in various races which range from Beat the Clock, Attack Mode, Battle Race and the Eliminator. These are all variations on the battle mode where you have to use various weapons against the AI racers.
The main story mode is accessed via the C.H.R.O.M.E missions; these have various difficulty ratings ranging from training up to Clearance Level 5. The more you play and win, the higher your rank and, hence, your clearance level is increased. Once you start a race you can choose one of the many cars available, they all have different stats on the control, power and speed ranges. The controls are also pretty standard for a PSP racer as the acceleration and brake have been mapped to the R and L triggers. The jump button is triangle, boost is circle while the weapons you collect are fired with the square button.
The difference in Cars 2’s gameplay, however, is in the way your drive and the camera angle. Most racing games have a top down, third person (behind the car) or first person (inside the car) view. Cars 2 has a camera angle thanks changes but you have no control over it, and driving is done in lanes. You move the D-pad up and down to change lanes, it’s as if you’re on rails whilst driving. It’s rather odd, but after a while you do get used to it. The driving itself is fun and the racing is enjoyable. This is very much a kart racing game at its core and the AI is very clever as they barge you and shoot their various lasers, machine guns and other devices at you with precision time. It’s a simple game, but it’s a decent effort.
The graphics are fine, but as it’s a PSP game we can forgive its blocky appearance. The environments are made very well and the cars themselves look good. The colours are bright and the various weather conditions look believable. The menus are polished and all the animations are slick. The game has a nice way of intergrating lots of options in a way that’s easily accessible. The music is fine and typically Disney, while the voice acting, of course, features all the stars of the movie. The sound of the missiles hitting the other cars is also pretty cool, although the catchphrases the cars have are limited to only a few phrases.
Cars 2 also has nice multiplayer included where you race with up to 3 friends. The Garage is the place to go to check out your various cars that you have collected during the course of the game, while there is also a badge section where you can see the various set goals you have reached. It’s very much like the trophies present in a normal PS3 game.
Overall, this is a good game, not great, but for what it is, I found it enjoyable. Older gamers won’t really be that hooked on it, however, fans of the series will love this game as it’s a true authentic effort. There are also lots of options to play through and the multiplayer does add to its lifespan. The graphics aren’t great, but for a PSP title, they are passable. The on-rails racing is one thing that players will have to get used to, as it feels somewhat restricting and makes it somewhat hard to avoid upcoming objects fast enough. Nonetheless, Cars 2 is a decent attempt to make an appropriate tie-in game for a Disney/Pixar movie.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation Portable code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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