Disney licences can be surprising sometimes. Cars 3 got a mediocre review at the cinema, a franchise with perhaps a little too fuel left to make the full race. But the videogame turns out to be surprisingly good and not just for youngsters.
The game has its own story based around the film but other than a few cut scenes you could forget it’s there at all. Still, it’s nice to have something there and the video parts which are here are pretty entertaining and lead nicely into the races and other events.
There are a surprising number of modes on offer, though not all are available from the start. The game drip feeds you these modes as you complete events and unlock points for doing tasks. It’s a really good system and a lot of the tasks fall in to the category of simply going through the motions of a race or battle.
Standard race is pretty much the defacto mode and it’s a pretty well designed one at that. Boost is given out as you occasionally do tricks or skid around corners (all taught during an easy to follow tutorial) but aside from this it’s simply a case of driving fast and working out where the short cuts are (a la Mario Kart) to gain an advantage.
It’s here that you’ll work out that Easy mode is best for the kids, Medium is actually a surprising challenge with other AI cars catching up way too fast when you’re out in front. There are three difficulty settings in all and they do actually provide quite a range for those with different skills. It’s worth noting that even the easy mode can provide a challenge for younger players at times.
The battle mode plays even more like Mario Kart, with weapon pickups ranging from homing missiles to guns and grenades, all sanitised for the little ones, of course. It feels really well balanced and is ideal for parents and kids to play in split screen. It’s the mode we’ve spent most time on as a family.
Takedowns are. surprisingly, like a mini cut down horde mode where you and a friend (if you want to play splitscreen) take down waves of enemies. It’s something a little different to the battle mode and quite fun, if a little limited.
Finally, there’s the playground, unlocked after you get enough of those skill points. This is a huge area that is all open and contains tons of ramps, tricks and even a loop-the-loop to try out. To help you along there are also parts for a collectable car you can only get through doing stunts and working out how to get the pieces, which are sometimes perched in hard to reach areas.
Other cars from the film franchise are gradually unlocked alongside the new tracks and modes and there should be something for everyone by the time you’ve had 5 or 6 races. flashy lights and horns can also be added to customise your car further.
Graphically, on Xbox One at least, the game looks pretty good. It’s not the best looking game on the system and it does have the occasional frame rate drop during busy moments, but it feels true to the films. The Switch version, which I’ve only briefly tried out, has a few more issues keeping up with the pace of the game but nothing game breaking.
For a kids film tie in, Cars 3 is surprisingly good and full of stuff to unlock and modes to play. It’s a great game for anyone who is a fan of the franchise.