Having watched Cars 2 - the movie - this weekend, and played Cars 2 - the video game...both have surprised me in opposite ways. The film, a cheeky, decent attempt to sequel-ize my favorite Pixar flick, left me slightly disappointed. It did nothing really new, and didn’t capitalize on some of the great secondary and tertiary characters from the first film. The game, however, is perfect for the film’s setting; my wife and I actually had a lot of fun with it.
Keeping in mind that the first Cars-branded game that we purchased - a splitscreen title for the Wii - was downright terrible, we had meager hopes for this one. It was rented as a trial run for the Redbox post from last week. However, humor and production prevailed as the intro kicked in, and we found ourselves pleasantly surprised.
What I liked most about the game is that simplicity and complexity are both present. A child familiar with the Mario Kart series can drive and win. Someone with a little bit more gaming experience will have fun performing airborne stunts, drifting, shooting a small variety of weapons at other racers, and even pulling moves inspired by the movies - like jumping over obstacles and pushing horizontally off of walls when turns get too shallow.
Overall campaign progress is slow, which can be good or bad depending on the player. Someone trying to beat the game 100% is going to take a long time. A long time. With 10 tiers of around 10 races each...well, you get the picture. And while the difficulty is very mild so as not to be frustrating, the flip side is that not every race is the height of excitement.
Luckily for younger players with short attention spans there are about 10 cars to choose from at the start, with even more available as unlocks and at least four as paid DLC. In total, over 20 individual characters can be used, plus re-skinned variants of some of them. Choosing a car to play as may take longer for a youngster than picking a track. The potential is there to keep a child interested for months...maybe years.