Electronic Arts


Hot Wheels: Turbo Racing Review

By: John Doe

Before video games were invented I used to spend hours playing with these little die-cast cars in the sandbox. I remember it like it was yesterday, always running into the house and asking my mom, "Have video games been invented yet?" every five minutes. She'd say, "No, go out and play with your Hot Wheels (trademark owned by Mattel)." The weird part was when she said, "trademark owned by Mattel". I thought that was odd even when I was a kid. Fast-forward many years and now two of my favorite past-times have crashed head-on in my game room. Hot Wheels by EA is the best thing to happen to racing since Beetle Adventure Racing for N64. This is as definite must have for kids of all ages.


If you are looking for a game that features classic cars, cool tracks, secrets galore, tons of shortcuts and freaky stunts you've come to the right review. I am amazed at how much fun this game is. The control is tight and responsive, the racing environments are long and imaginative and the graphics, although not award winning by any means do the job nicely.

Hot Wheels the game, starts you off with 20 classic Hot Wheels cars, with another 20 that you can discover on your own. If you don't recognize at least a few of them from your childhood you were either one fun-deprived child or a girl. At the selection screen the N64 version sports sweet looking 3D rendered models of the cars while the PSX disappointingly shows grainy shots of the vehicles. Aside from graphical differences, which I found the N64 to be slightly superior, the games are identical. Oh except that Metallica (and the song "Fuel") isn't on the N64 version's soundtrack so "Nyah Nyah" to you all Nintendo and Metallica fans.

The game is simple enough to get into. Pick a mode, pick a car, pick a track and go. Since this is a Hot Wheels game, don't expect real car physics. These cars flip, roll, somersault, drive on walls and upside down, almost as if they were guided by the hand of a demented 5-year-old. Grab some air off of a killer jump and pull off some stunts that will not only make you look cool but will earn you Turbos which make you go Vroom Vroom faster. Thanks to the tracks being modeled after real Hot Wheels tracks, you will never have to worry about falling off of the sides, which makes racing simple enough for a young child. The control is dynamite and every car feels likes it's hugging the road, that is until you are doing barrel rolls 500 hundred feet in the air. But the control is spot on enough, to allow perfect landings so that you will gain those precious Turbos.

Hot Wheels: Turbo Racing doesn't skimp on the racing modes either. Select from Exhibition Race, Airtime Challenge, Hot Wheels Cup, Practice and Practice Airtime. All the modes are excellent and will bring you weeks of enjoyment.

Taking a cue from Beetle Adventure Racing you'll want to keep you eyes out for shortcuts, power-ups and even other classic Hot Wheels cars to discover and unlock. Talk about replay value. On each given track there must be at least 5 different places you'll see that you'll wonder how to get there. And when you finally do, you'll know why it was worth the trip. A total of eight power-ups litter the track, which are regenerated the next time you come around. They are: Cars of Steel (car has maximum durability), Gyro (enhances cars ability to do aerial stunts by allowing it to spin like a top), Rubber Car (opponents that smash into you will bounce off), Sticky Tires (vehicle has more traction), Super Brakes (allows you to stop on a dime), Super Handling (increases the vehicles grip, downforce, engine power and center of gravity), Turbo Boost (adds more Turbos) and 4x4 (makes taking muddy or slippery shortcuts easier and doesn't slow you down).

Musically this game will make a lot of fans happy. Bands like Primus, Metallica (PSX only), Mix Master Mike, Link Wray, Reverend Horton Heat and more, round out this funky, techno and rocking soundtrack. The music suits the style of the game to a tee. In the sound effects department you'll hear tires squealing, rubber burning, engines whining and lots of explosions and things smashing. Both versions sound great with the PlayStation version featuring more voice overs.

Complaint Dept. The graphics could have definitely been improved for both versions. As well, the framerate never gives you that feeling of intense speed even when supposedly travelling at 150+ miles per hour. It's really a minor complaint because the game really kicks. It's easy to overlook the little flaws.

When a game shows up with this much playability it is best not to ignore it or the companies that make such games will say, "Well that didn't work, let's make another snowboarding or fighting game." EA is certainly proving itself with software this year and we haven't even played NHL 2000 yet. This game makes being a game reviewer a good job, for those who think it's all giggles and Doritos. Bravo to EA. Ignore the fact that this game will be marketed to the puberty-challenged. It's a great game that racing fans of all ages will love. Buy it.






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