Game Review – Cars 3: Driven to Win

Let’s pump the accelerator a bit and put some awful automobile puns in our rear view early. Though it’s a movie tie-in, a genre that’s blown few doors off in the past, initial impressions suggest Cars 3 is the wheel deal. It’s been put on track thanks to the supremely talented Avalanche Software (the team responsible for the Disney Infinity series). It’s not perfect, but it’s ka-chow worth consuming.

Event-wise you’re constantly shifting gears between combative and non-combative racing. With the pacifist racing you’ll select one of the 22 unlocked cars (an even split of classic characters and fresh whips from the new movie) and then you’ll need to get sideways, make sensible shortcut choices, do tricks and nail boost pads to win.

Doing Doc Hudson proud and drifting like a bandit is a cinch thanks to an easy stick-flick motion and wide, forgiving tracks. More advanced gamers can achieve better lap times if they milk the show-boaty two-wheeler and driving backwards mechanics (problem: driving arse-first reverses your controls).

Straight racing offers decent handling and challenge, but it’d sure get exhausting if combat wasn’t included. It’s enjoyable trading paint with the lateral shunts and an “in the zone” turbo overcharge that is effectively Mario Kart’s star power-up. Cars 3 also hands you a surprisingly large array of 14 weapons to terrorise the AI field, split-screen opponents (up to 4) or online jerks.

The usual defensive options are there: oilslicks, weapon-stealers, mines, etc. You can also dish the pain out with an array of overly colourful machine gun fire, rockets, and mortars, all of which may be gloriously blind-fired backwards. Marry that with huge area-of-effect explosions, and you’ve got chaos that’s very much my speed.

Before you wave the checkered flag for a victory finish, know that Cars 3 is not without a few large speed bumps. The most glaring omission is a story mode that follows the plot of the film. What you get instead is a generous smattering of events and cups loosely organised into Race, Battle Race, Takedown (a pleasing riff on Burnout 3’s Road Rage mode), Best Lap, Playground (a fairly aimless sandbox) and Master-Level Events. Don’t be fooled by the wording of the latter, it’s a piddly 4 event challenge that can be knocked over quicker than that three-wheeled car Mr Bean hates.

Veer away from Cars 3 if you plan on going in on your lonesome to relive moments of the movie, because you’re gonna feel aimless and tyred in no time. That said, the majority of this otherwise well-produced racer can be enjoyed as a novel, 4-person split-screen experience which multiplies its fun-factor considerably.

Whether or not this game is a car crash will depend greatly on your circumstances. Personally, I played this as a young-at-heart gamer with my two young sons, and Cars 3: Driven to Win was still very much a vehicle for good times.

Score: 7/10

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