Cars 2 –

Pixar’s Cars is a godsend to the weary games developer, tired of crowbarring kids movies into wheezing platform-game shapes, picking out the key action scenes and working out how best to stretch them into something that will work on a console.
The adventures of Lightning McQueen cut through all of that. When all your characters have wheels, and your hero is a racing car, the game genre sorts itself out naturally. No matter what you need them to do, it’s got to be a driving game. And now, with Cars 2, Lightning and Mater have become international secret agents, with missiles and guns and a cackling bad guy. Driving. Shooting. Cackling. It’s almost as if Pixar is writing the game design document for us!
So it is that Cars 2, the game, is inevitably an example of the venerable combat racing game, with front wheels parked neatly on the pavement of Mario Kart Street and the back rudely blocking the driveway of Mr Twisted Metal.
It’s a slick, chunky and responsive racer, and one with a few tricks up its sleeve to amuse the kids. While the left stick steers and the right trigger accelerates, just as you’d expect, the right stick seems more interested in pretending it’s controlling a skateboard game.
Flick down on the stick and your car flips around and starts driving backwards, ready to fend off attacks from the rear. Flick the stick upwards and you balance on two wheels. Left and right shunt your car across the track for instant and gratifying Road Rash-style side-swipes against overtaking enemies. There’s also a simple drifting mechanic, which can be automatically activated for kids who struggle with the timing of the button presses.
These cars don’t even need ramps, as a prod of the A button sends them hopping into the air all by themselves. While in the air, the right stick now twizzles and turns your vehicle in an immediately appealing series of flips and barrel rolls. It’s a lovely, intuitive control system and one that taps straight into what kids love about gaming: the ability to do cool stuff really easily.
These stunts aren’t just for show, however. Each trick you pull earns you boost, which gradually fills up four bars. Each bar is equal to one use of the turbo function, but when all four are full you can double tap for an extra fast speed injection which comes with a rival-frying shield as well.
Weaponry falls into all the expected categories. There’s a machine gun, a rocket or a trio of rockets. Oil slicks and energy traps can be dropped behind you. A satellite laser fulfils your smart bomb needs, and instead of a homing missile there’s a little RC bomb car that will chase down the driver in front and send them sky high (although in the world of Cars, isn’t this like using babies as suicide bombers? Probably best not to dwell on that). It’s a functional weapon set, but one that feels a little unimaginative given the potential that Pixar’s wacky, knockabout world offers.
Get your first month for £1 (normally £3.99) when you buy a Standard Eurogamer subscription. Enjoy ad-free browsing, merch discounts, our monthly letter from the editor, and show your support with a supporter-exclusive comment flair!
Find out how we conduct our reviews by reading our review policy.
Get the day's most talked about stories straight to your inbox.
Dan Whitehead
Dan has been writing for Eurogamer since 2006 and specialises in RPGs, shooters and games for children. His bestest game ever is Julian Gollop’s Chaos.
Please enable JavaScript to see comments.
Disney Infinity dev is back, now making Cars 3 for Warner Bros.
Feature | The unlikely story behind YouTube's most-viewed gaming video
UK Top 40: Zumba Fitness sales rise
UK Top 40: Zumba gets tenth week top
UK top 40: Zumba's ninth week on top
Cars 2: The Videogame announced
Recommended | Warhammer 40,000: Darktide review – a horde of minor flaws can be overcome by faith
Avoid | High on Life review – a mediocre shooter with an unfunny attitude problem
Digital Foundry | AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT and 7900 XTX review: can RDNA 3 bring the value?
Recommended | Need for Speed: Unbound review – the best Need for Speed in a generation
Recommended | Crisis Core Final Fantasy 7 Reunion review – enjoyably frivolous fan service with curious implications
Essential | Swordship review – this game is a marvel
Recommended | The Callisto Protocol review – a Dead Space-alike built on simpler pleasures
Recommended | Gunvein review – a purebred shooting game that somehow elevates your own ability
Buy things with globes on them
And other lovely Eurogamer merch in our official store!
Bad puns and video games since 1999.
Copyright © 2022 Gamer Network Limited, a ReedPop company.
All rights reserved. No part of this site or its content may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright holder.


Leave a Comment