Game reviewHot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged sounds like a mashup of Judas Priest songs, but it’s a new racing game centered around iconic toy cars. It’s a remarkably sophisticated game, too, and not just a generic case of a big franchise name.
When we think of race cars, we imagine messy floors, courses on the kitchen table and our wonderful grandmother who once had to return those things to that little kid we were so long ago. You won’t find grandmothers in this game, but you will find circles in children’s rooms and other rooms, a garden, an amusement park, or even a dinosaur museum.
This is the magic that sets Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged apart from other racing games, just as Micro Machines games do on a smaller scale. You can also create and share such a course yourself, with different skins for different driving behaviors.
During the race, you don’t get a chance to enjoy the surroundings too much, because the pace is high. Thanks to the colorful road signs and your boost button, everything goes a little faster, so you have to keep your wits about you not to miss any checkpoints. In some courses, you race against the ceiling or have to perform well-aimed (double) jumps, which makes the challenge even greater. If you travel too far, you can respawn immediately without losing much time.
The racing is very serious, but the arcade-like fun is great, especially thanks to the opportunity to sell french fries to your competitors left and right.
Plastic and metal
In addition to the single-player races, the game also has a single-player campaign lasting about nine to eleven hours with very disturbing scenes aimed at young children that you can fortunately skip. The races are a mixture of (timed) challenges on your own and competitions with computer-controlled cars that you have to complete under certain conditions. It’s a great way to quickly collect points with which you can upgrade your car and buy a lot of new sports or crazy cars.
You can customize it as you want, with all kinds of colors for each part, using stickers, etc. You can also choose from different types of plastic and metal textures, making the toy cars come alive and look amazingly realistic. You also have different classes, so it’s best to bring the right four-wheeler or bike for each type of challenge, and you can also adjust the driving behavior of each car through the Skills Menu.
Of course, loneliness means being alone, and racing games like this should be played with others. You can race in split screen on the couch, and especially with those pendants that you can distribute left and right, it’s pure fun. Online wait times are very short, although a race can start with just two players.
This is of course annoying when the other drives faster, or worse, when you win and the other simply stops or disappears. Oddly enough, you can’t decide whether or not you want to wait longer for more participants. The game supports cross-play, so it’s a shame you won’t soon get a full starting grid. Hopefully this will make it to the handbag in the weeks following release.
On the PlayStation 5, the game also supports the controller’s speaker and vibration functions, the latter in particular being very good. Besides the weak videos in the single-player campaign, one of the few downsides is the dramatic soundtrack, though this is of course a matter of taste. But thank God, you can also mute the music.
‘Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged’ looks beautiful and plays very well and is remarkably fast. The creative circuitry ensures arcade-like fun, and the game is at its best when during the race you feel like you’re driving around in a ‘real’ place with this toy car. Combined with the highly realistic vehicles, this is the thing that really makes the game different. In addition to nostalgia, there is also love in this.
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