Cars 3: Driven to Win continues immediately after the big race at the end of the movie, so if you are worried about spoilers you have nothing to fear apart from the new cast of characters that feature in it. Licensed games are starting to see a resurgence, and their quality is slowly ramping up, but does Cars 3 race across the finish line, or will it have to pull into a pit-stop after the first lap?
The premise is fairly simple and is conveyed through a well animated and voiced cut-scene, albeit with sound-alikes. Jackson Storm is your rival, and it doesn’t feel as though you are fast enough to race him, so in order to compete against him, you must race multiple events and unlock skill points in the “Hall of Fame” which allows you to progress by slowly unlocking new stages and playable cars. There are 136 tasks to complete, but all are not needed in order to compete in the final race.
These tasks vary from winning a championship or a race, by performing a string of tricks or by collecting hidden items. The list is greatly varied and is the key factor that will keep you hooked on Cars 3. These skills force you to change the way you play the game, and will encourage you to try new things. Whether this means using the “track strips” to best effect or the manoeuvres on the right-stick such as driving on two wheels, in reverse or “side-bashing” into your opponents or using the turbo boosts to full effect. The design of the game is really well done, on the surface it is easy to learn, but there are levels of depth within it. The controls are good, but I really miss the hand brake / e-brake in most other racers. It seems like an oversight and is a necessity in the open world mode especially when you over-shoot an objective and need to do a one-eighty.
Stages are varied too, with wide areas and branching paths offering turbo boosts or weapons. The choice is left to you to play the way you want. You can choose to race on over 20 tracks and just as many racers. They have little meaningful customisation and all have the same racing statistics. However the vehicles with the ability to tow items can pick and throw explosive oil battles onto their opponents to get the upper hand.
There are six game modes including; Racing, Best Lap, Takedown, and Battle Race that are fairly self explanatory, but on top of these there is a Stunt Showcase mode that you must use ramps to, to collect point balloons and perform tricks using the right analog stick. And finally the biggest surprise for me was the Playground mode. This is akin to the old Tony Hawk’s levels whereby you have a large stage littered with fun tasks all around, from races to ramps and collect-able to figure out the best way to reach them. There are even grind rails! Sadly only one of these levels was included, called “Thomasville,” but it is a blast to play, and you could spend hours trying to gain the highest rank on all of the challenges.
You will also unlock “Master Level Events”, these feature the aforementioned modes however are at a higher difficulty level and are introduced with a delightful cut-scene to continue the story. However, the game does not force you down a linear path, so you can play the final race before you played the ones before it, or even chose a different car to partake in a race that the commentary will replace with Lightning McQueen. The lack of guidance did throw me off a little.
Cars 3 is predominantly a single player game but it does feature a split screen local multiplayer mode for up to 4 players. There is no online option to speak of, but this title is aimed for a younger audience, so it can be forgiven. It all runs very smoothly albeit at a lower graphical fidelity. You can play all of the events even the Playground mode.
With little available in the racing landscape, Cars 3 was actually fairly entertaining, and I will revisit the Playground mode and attempt to 100% it. Children around 6-12 will also love this game, it poses just the right amount of challenge and it can be made easier or harder if you want.
- Replay Value