Cars 2 XBOX Review

Oddly given something of a beating by a lot of critics, one thing is clear about Cars 2 The Movie, it was something of a more “grown up” affair. While retaining a certain amount of goofiness and tomfoolery, it was a kind of animated homage to not only Bond films, but spy capers of an earlier age. It had the usual animated elements, and was certainly fun for kids, but a real appreciation of what was going on probably required more years than the first film.

That general shift holds true with the Cars 2 Video Game release as well. The first Cars game, which my son and I both played on the Gamecube, was a simple, but layered bit of fun, that took the theory of racing games and turned it upside-down. There was a world to explore in a kind of “free roam” uber menu, which allowed you to drive around Radiator Springs at your leisure, find hidden goodies, and make your way to various races and events.

The Cars 2 effort tries to lean much more toward a “serious” racing game (view the full list of the best racing games here, if you want to see a few serious racing games), although somehow in the sense of not being especially serious. After all, it’s an animated movie. It’s a strange combination, and one that focuses on laying waste with add-on weapons to a large degree, and ultimately, it’s sort of a weird game.

I suspect that much of the negative press the film received was a result of expectations being ignored, abused, and otherwise mishandled, with people expecting a certain casual style, and a lot of Lightning McQueen and the characters we knew from the first film. The video game is liable to produce the same reaction, as those with little information will jump into this game and wonder what the hell is going on.

There is nothing left of the exploration mode from the first game, and instead you are presented with a menu system that purports to offer events as “cases” to be worked through. You have a variety of race modes, and the diversity found in the kinds of challenges you’ll be presented with is certainly a plus. There are straight races, which nevertheless involve a lot of bumping and crashing, and there are various death match races, with weapons of all sorts available to pick up while you’re racing. There are also such spectaculars as arena combat modes, with a small area to drive around and try to blow up as many baddies as possible. All the while, you can drive backwards, on two wheels, and perform other special moves, all of which earn you extra juice to use your turbo boost.

As you progress through the game, you’ll open up further levels in the “case files,” which will get you new races/challenges, and as you move along you’ll unlock new characters, and multi-player options.

The game is unquestionably fun, though some of the challenge levels may be frustrating for a lot of fans of the film, but a little of the magic is gone really. Like most racing games, the end result is that you’ll play it like mad for a while, unlock everything you can, beat the levels, and move on. That wasn’t the case with the first game, which my son would periodically return to for a surprisingly long time.

The purchase becomes a bit of a tough call, especially since I know that most people definitely will enjoy it. It’s as slick as you’d expect from a Disney game, brings together a lot of elements, and has great controls and ease of play. On the other hand, there may be a point at which you have to decide if you’re fun or serious, because you can only try to bring the two together with so much success. This is probably the best effort toward such success, but it may only amount to reactions that find it somewhat lacking. Not fun enough for some, and not serious enough for others.

This might be one, surprising as it seems, that you want to rent before making the full commitment.

[xrr rating=3.5/5]


Inspired by the upcoming Disney•Pixar animated film, Cars 2: The Video Game lets players jump into the Cars 2 universe with some of their favorite Cars personalities in exotic locations around the globe.

Continuing the storyline from the upcoming film, players can choose to play as Mater and Lightning McQueen, as well as some brand new characters, as they train in the international training center – CHROME (Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage) to become world-class spies. They’ll take on dangerous missions, compete to become the fastest racecar in the world, or use their spy skills in exciting, action-packed combat racing and battle arenas. Players can race against friends and family in either single or multiplayer modes with up to four players to unlock challenging new tracks, characters, events and thrilling spy missions. The DS version will also include exclusive global locations not seen in the film.

Game Features

– Cars 2: The Video Game introduces the international training center – CHROME (Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage) that expands upon the film storyline

– Choose from more than 20 different characters, such as Mater, Lightning McQueen and the newly introduced Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell, and train to become world class spies

– Participate in simulated hazardous missions using high-tech gadgets to evade and impede adversaries

– Perform maneuvers only Cars characters can do, such as backwards driving, air tricks, sidestepping to avoid obstacles, two wheel driving and more

– Connect with World of Cars Online, a free-to-play browser-based virtual world based on the Cars universe, to gain rewards in the video game and then use them to unlock new items in the virtual world


Marc Eastman
Marc Eastman is the owner and operator of Are You Screening? and has been writing film reviews for over a decade, and several branches of the internet's film review world have seen his name. He is also a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Broadcast Television Journalists Association.

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