Cars 2: The Video GameESRB:
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Category: Family Fun, Racing
Developer: Disney Interactive
Publisher: Disney Interactive
The first time I sat down and watched Disney’s Cars with my oldest son was quite a magical moment, as after we were done watching it my son was hooked on everything Cars, from the location to the characters. Of course his favorite at first was Lightning McQueen; however, his interest then shifted towards Tow Mater due to the popular Mater’s Tall Tale’s shorts we got him on DVD. Not too long ago, around the end of the school year, we went off to see Cars 2 in the theater and it was a really enjoyable movie for both of us. Well, having received the Nintendo DS version of Cars 2, we were both hoping that our enjoyment of the movie carried over to our enjoyment game
Visually, Cars 2 is not the best looking DS titleout there, but the characters throughout the game, such as McQueen, Mater, Finn McMissile, Holly Shiftwell, and the rest of the supporting cast, are depicted perfectly just like their movie counterparts. The levels that you play through, be it buildings, race tracks, or ships, are not as great looking as the characters with chunky architecture and textures that just don’t seem as sharp as they could have. In the end, although the graphics are not the best we have seen on the DS, the game does set out and accomplish the goal of creating the world of Cars with all the new settings that crop up throughout the new storyline of Cars 2, and most kids should get a kick out of this.
The character voices for Cars 2 really makes them who they are on the big screen, and this feeling carries over for the DS game with voice work from the likes of Finn McMissile, Lighting McQueen and of course the lovable Mater. It’s apparent that a good chunk of the voices are the actual movie actors, but for the voices that aren’t, the stand-ins do their best at mimicking the voices from the films. The rest of the sounds, such as the music and sound effects, are well done and are quite fitting for the game; however, one of the major downfalls is the lack of variety. Handheld versions of games for the most part do lack in this department, so it is not that surprising that Cars 2 on the DS is lacking too.
The story mode in Cars 2 takes its’ cues straight from the movie where Lightning McQueen and friends travel around the world to participate in the World Grand Prix where Lightning and Mater get drawn into an evil plot that Command Headquarters for Recon Operations & Motorized Espionage (C.H.R.O.M.E) is trying to prevent.
There are two modes throughout story mode: racing and stealth. Racing is a lot of fun and follows the tradition of racing laps around a track. The characters change between Lightning, Mater, Finn and Holly, so you do get a taste of each of the main characters, although each car’s driving characteristics are pretty much the same. The controls tend to be a bit finicky with minor adjustments being needed constantly to keep you car going in the direction you like, and the drifting controls are almost uncontrollable and probably shouldn’t even be used if you want to come out on top every time.
In racing mode there are only two race types: normal and knock out races. Normal races are simple as the person in the lead wins. In knock out, the car in last place is knocked out of the race each time the timer runs out. The key to winning the knock out race is to just stay up front and hope you don’t crash in the dying seconds. These limited race types make the game quite monotonous and they can become boring after a dozen races or so.
As I also noted earlier, Cars 2 for the DS also has some stealth missions in the game. At first I thought these stealth missions were a really cool idea, but when you get to actually playing through them you quickly become frustrated with the same finicky controls that are present in the racing modes, but this time it affects the gameplay while you are trying to evade spotlights, helicopters, cars and other obstacles. Meanwhile you are also navigating your way through some mazes with tight corners. Unfortunately, the game’s controls push the challenging aspects of stealth mode just a little bit too far.
Another game mode available is called C.H.R.O.M.E. This mode allows you to replay races and stealth levels to unlock additional rewards.
Cars 2 for the DS also offers up some multiplayer game modes that are playable via single and/or multi-card support. The multiplayer mode offers 2-4 players the chance to race against each other on any of the tracks you play through in the story mode. With some decent multiplayer action you figure there would be some Nintendo Wi-Fi abilty to make this a great online racer, but unfortunately you are only left with some World of Cars Online functionality that allows you to unlock some items for your online game via the DS version.
Aside from the multiplayer modes and the limited online functionality, I didn’t see much to having this additional mode because it could have been easily been left out and had the rewards been added to story mode where players could return to unlock. With the finicky controls players would most likely have to repeat a few levels which could result in rewards being unlocked during that process.
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