When you were younger the Hot Wheels cars were always something that you had or played with, whether it is with friends or siblings. While back in those days the cars were practical, nowadays, they are over the top crazy and fun to play with! From the crazy designs of the cars to the outrageous track that can be created, Hot Wheels as come on leaps and bounds from when I was younger. This week, I got a chance to see and play a game that was fun and all-out craziness at the same time and that was Hot Wheels Unleashed by Milestone, who are the geniuses who also gave us games like MotoGP, RIDE series and the off-road racer Gravel.
The gameplay in Hot Wheels is an arcade style experience and aimed at being fun, whether you are a novice or a pro. The controls are straightforward thanks to a controller in hand, with the RT being used to accelerate and the LT used to brake. You can the A button to use your boost when it reaches high enough and for those cool jumps in the game, you can use the right thumb stick to rotate your car in the air of more craziness. There is 60+ cars on offer in the full game, which is an insane amount to start off with, however in the preview build there was 28 to choose from. The handling and physics of the cars on offer all have their own styles and attributes, like speed, handling, braking power and acceleration. Each of the cars in the game match their real-life counterparts and they are placed into their own levels, from Common and Rare to Legendary and Super Treasure Hunt.
The Common cars are the slowest of the pack but are also the easiest to control while you are out racing. The Rare, Legendary and Super Treasure Hunt cars can be acquired by playing through the game and unlocking them. Starting with the Common cars allows you to get to grips with the game mechanics and handling of the cars before you jump into the harder ones. Like I said, the cars match their real-life counterparts and, I played with cars like the Rodger Dodger, Twin Mil, Sharkruiser and Buns of Steel. Each of the cars you race with has a boost meter, which can be filled by racing and then hitting the boost button to power ahead the other racers.
When it comes to the racing tracks, there was 9 for me to try out in 4 different locations, the Skyscraper, the Garage, the College Campus, and the Skate Park. Each of the locations and tracks had an easy, medium, and hard difficulty to them. The College Campus was my favourite location as you get to tear about the tracks over classroom floors, science labs and even on the ceiling and through the air ducts. Each of the tracks you race on has their own quirks and features to them like small turbines or fans that can push you off the track to spiders that will stick you to the track with their webbing. The tracks also has boost hot spots where driving over them gives you maximum charge of boost for a couple of seconds, these can be vital if you find yourself behind the pack or looking for those extra inches to winning the race.
The AI racers that you race against will adapt to your ability as you playthrough the game. This makes the game rewarding, fun and challenging all at the same time, so that players of all levels get to play. It also means that as you improve in the game, the game tries to match you. You can also change the difficulty level for more of a challenge in the options menu, with Easy Medium and Hard to chose from.
There are two game modes available in the build that I played, which are Quick Race and Split Screen. A Time Attack mode and Track builder option will be added to the game upon release. In Quick Race you get to choose any of the cars that are on offer which range from the Common cars up to the Super Treasure Hunt cars and you can jump in and play any of the 9 tracks that is available. With Split Screen mode, you get to grab a family member or friend and race side by side to see who is tops at Hot Wheels. While the game runs smoothly in Split Screen, I was not a fan of it and looking forward to a proper multiplayer race experience come September. I feel that is where most of you may jump in and play, especially with how crazy the track designs are, with loops, turns, overhead tracks and hazards. With the Track Builder accessible in the full game, it will be interesting to see what the Hot Wheels community will create be when it comes to this in the game.
A feature not in the Preview Build of Hot Wheels Unleashed will be a Career Mode, a single player experience called Hot Wheels City Rumble in which players must win races, time attacks, complete special challenges and defeat bosses to expand the collection with unique cars and track pieces.
When it comes to the visuals of Hot Wheels Unleashed, I was pleasantly surprised, everything looks crisp, clean, and colourful. From the bright backdrops of the College Campus Library and Skate Park and how the sunlight bounces off certain sections of the track, to the dark and dull Garage tracks and even the cars themselves. Each Hot Wheel car screeches with smoke and sparks they take off at the start of a race or when they are drifting around corners. You are also treated to flames shooting out the exhaust as you hit the boost and take off. The cars have a kind of shine or gleam to them and everything about them screams detail and almost look life like with when you are scrolling through them and selecting your favourites to race. Some have their own little quirks too like the toaster car (it’s proper name escapes me), which sees the toast bounce up and down as you drive around the track. It’s a nice touch to the game and adds more humour to an already fun game. You can also customise your cars too, thanks to a Livery Editor that will be accessible in the full game.
The Livery Editor will allow the customisation of stickers and liveries on players cars collections. Cars can also be upgraded by investing gears to boost the cars stats. Gears can be obtained mainly by dismantling cars that you will not use. These upgrades are useful to jump from one rarity level to another, except for Super Treasure Hunt which must be discovered in a different way.
What players will be thrilled to know that there will be no microtransactions of any kind in the game and the only currency on offer will be Coins. These Coins are the in-game currency which is earned by playing, winning races, and completing the challenges while you play. This for me is always a plus and happy that Milestone went this route.
Hot Wheels Unleashed has a lot to offer in terms of the number of cars and tracks that is coming at launch. If you add in the Track Builder and Livery Editor on top of that too, this game just oozes longevity. There is also the Hot Wheels universe to think of and what it can offer us in terms of DLC with the number of tracks and cars that Milestone could potentially add is incredible!
So don’t forget to mark your calendars for September 27th and remember, it’s not the same, without the flame!