If it’s not immediately obvious, Car 3: Driven to Win is a game for kids. Play this from an adult gamer perspective and you’ll be instantly shrouded in a lack of depth and cartoony visuals, but look at it from the angle of the kinds of little people who will be obsessing over McQueen and co for the foreseeable future and it suddenly becomes a far more appealing prospect.
The first thing to note is that if you haven’t seen Cars 3 in the cinema yet the early stages of the game will drop one or two spoilers about the end of the film. If your little ones are excited about seeing it, save the game until afterwards otherwise the typically Pixar grandstand ending will lose some of it shine. Once you’re into the game though there’s plenty of racing to be had, and while the handling takes quite some getting used to along with various tricks and clever moves the fun is difficult to deny, and even while playing through for this review I found myself getting quite into some of the events.
As far as the driving goes, a sensible approach to your races won’t give you much reward – instead you’ll be making huge jumps, driving backwards and drifting which all goes towards building up your boost for when you need that little extra. And you’ll be needing that boost; the opposition racers can be very tricky at times, and even on the Easy setting younger gamers will face a good challenge, and expecting to win every race will surely lead to eventual disappointment. But hey, kids need to learn, right? The hardest difficulties are really tough, and I often struggled to even finish in the top half as other racers took short cuts, bashed themselves around aggressively and generally managed to find speed I didn’t even know existed. They ate speed for breakfast, if you like.
There’s a good number of locations and tracks to race on, as well as a great array of event types to try out. There are races, tournaments, events with weapons that you pick up from boxes on the track (yeah, like that game) and even an open sandbox area where you can drive round in your own time, try out tricks, and take part in different events which will unlock various things including hats for Mack to wear. As an avid collector of in-game stuff my son (who has hit 100% on three Lego games to give you an idea of his collecting obsession) loved it, and with other events and progressing through the single player modes also unlocking cars from the films and various customisation options there’s a lot here to keep you going. There are also various objectives to meet which you can do at any time, such as filling a certain number of boost bars in a race, drifting for so long or doing multiple stunts in a single jump. Most are locked and will just ping up as and when you just happen to do them, so it rewards experimentation in your racing as well as aiming for specific things.
So should you buy Cars 3: Driven to Win? Well if you or your kids love the Cars franchise, then yes, without a doubt. Unlike a lot of other Disney film-inspired games, this arcade racer has a lot going for it, and a lot to enjoy. Seasoned racers looking for something to tie them over until Project Cars 2 is released should stay well away, this isn’t what you’re looking for, but for a cheerful, family friendly racer with plenty to do and lots to collect it’s a very decent game indeed.
Reviewed on PS4