I liked Hot Wheels Unleashed a lot, and while it wasn’t perfect, there was a strong base for future titles to be built upon. Milestone is known for putting out sim racers with rewarding learning curves if you’re willing to be patient, yet their toy-focused outing was more about giving people of all ages a chance to experience colourful courses featuring the metallic vehicles most of us grew up with. There’s a ton of fun to be had on Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged, and without a caveat, you’re going to want to give this a spin.
With an approach firmly cemented in the arcade side of racing, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged offers tons of different track designs set across some wonderfully detailed environments. It’s almost like how a modern day Micro Machines should be, with toy cars speeding across orange tracks and obstacles, occasionally veering off across grass or arcade cabinets, inside a dinosaur museum or mini golf course, a gas station, or the Hot Wheels Track Room. Whatever the course, they all test your skills as a driver, but offer a comfortable cushion for error in return.
Handling is utterly sublime. It’s incredibly smooth to race around corners, and drifting is almost as satisfying as it is in Mario Kart, helping to build your nitro in the process. A couple of new mechanics have been included, coming in especially useful when trying to knock into other cars or jumping over obstacles. Racing over speed pads fill up your nitro; magnetic pads can launch you into another track that runs parallel with the normal one albeit above your head; fans push against you; and there’re a multitude of traps that will hamper your progress. Even the littlest gaps in the tracks or tricky terrain can cause you to lose balance or fall, but there’s always a chance to get right back into the action.
It doesn’t punish you for trying, and if you do mess up, the good old rewind/respawn button returns. More often than not, I loved switching between vehicles, trying out the variety of tracks, and playing through the different events spread across the various modes. The single player campaign is a surprisingly enjoyable mode, giving you the option to play across different zones focused in areas like snowy mountains, a city centre, an industrial park, and a jungle, where events all have objectives in order to progress. There’s plenty of variety in these events, making use of all the skills available to you, and I enjoyed each one because it pushed me in different ways.
Quick Race sees you competing against others in order to reach first place; Time Attack challenges you to beat a specified time; Elimination sees you surviving countdowns as the person in last place disappears when the clock runs out; Drift Master is all about making sure you rack up points while not crashing into various obstacles, and Waypoints sees you reaching sporadic waypoints within a set time limit that aren’t located on a traditional track. There’re also boss fights in each area where you have to drive through barriers to do damage to them. It’s all tied together by a story featuring a diverse cast of characters told via comic book-style cutscenes, but it’s by no means the main focus: that’s what the vehicles are for.
With a multitude of cars to choose from and unlock, there’s something for everyone, whether you want something that sacrifices speed for handling or vice versa, or a vehicle that drifts with acute precision. Maybe one of the new motorbikes or a Mercedes, a monster truck or an F1 car, a dune buggy or a Hot Wheels exclusive. There’s a ton of choice, and even when you’ve bought a new vehicle with the in-game currency, you can further customise with a rich livery of styles and colours. You can also unlock backgrounds for your player card, new boost and horn sounds, and by levelling up, you can improve various skills that improve everything from speed to handling.
Another cool feature of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged is the Track Creator. There’s a hell of a lot of choice, where you can fill your own creations with tons of tight corners and ramps, or if you’re so inclined, make one long straight that’s filled with a never-ending line of traps and hazards. It’s a solid feature that allow you to create your own courses and play them with friends, and I had a great time balancing challenge with fun. I had some great races with my daughter in local co-op, and she found it straightforward to get into and didn’t struggle with the challenge.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged has some beautifully designed courses that look lovely thanks to the colourful backdrops and well-crafted tracks. The cars are also skilfully detailed to resemble the toys, and taking them out on the tracks provided plenty of enjoyment. The single player campaign is packed with various challenges and stuff to unlock, and the number of cars and customisation options are enough to keep you returning. It’s a great alternative to other arcade racers on the market, and also a big improvement on the original.
Drifting is so good
Gorgeous and varied tracks
Some cool modes
Lots of vehicles to unlock
Story is arbitrary