|System: PS2, X360, PS3 Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Incinerator Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 12, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
Disney and Pixar's animated movie, Cars, celebrated its third birthday this past June, and with no sequel in sight, one has to ask: Why are we still getting games based on this license? We may never know the answer to that question, but THQ has, nevertheless, put the pedal to the medal with another racing adventure for Wii and PS2. Does Race-O-Rama have the turbo to charge fans up?
If there's one thing that can be said for Cars Race-O-Rama, it's that it sure isn't light on content. Players can journey through a fully realized story mode, as well as dabble in a host of arcade options with a friend. Everything from circuit races to off-road, monster-truck derbies and kart competitions is on the menu here, and though there is a healthy portion of filler, there's also a surprising amount of fun content under the hood.
In story mode, the gameplay is presented in a sort of open-world scenario, where you're free to drive around virtual towns and landscapes, cherry out your car, and take on optional challenges. Star challenges move the story along, and after completing a handful of races, you'll move on to another area of the game world. There isn't a whole lot going on in any one particular area, but there are some trinkets to be found in various nooks and crannies of the map.
The star challenges are the story mode's bread and butter and are comprised of different track types. There are standard circuit events that focus more on speed and careful maneuvering, as well as off-road races that present players with more loose, countrified flexibility. Races are varied up nicely, and each track is based on whatever area of the game world you happen to be visiting at the time. This means players can get a head's start in terms of learning the make-up of tracks by simply investigating the overworld.
Finding the next race or garage can be a bit time-consuming, even with the GTA-style mini-map that appears onscreen when free-roaming the game world. However, you can enter a full-map screen at any time outside of a race and select specific locations to quick-travel to. It's a good system that allows players to fool around as much as they like without the frustration of unwanted meandering.
When it comes to actual races, both the handling and controls are pretty spot-on. Race-O-Rama doesn't bring anything new to the table, but it does offer competent mechanics and interesting track design. Regardless of the similarities in scenery, each track has something unique to offer. Racing as a monster truck, however, isn't one of the highlights of gameplay, and handling definitely gets a bit trickier any time you take the competition off-road. Additionally, the game's physics are never all that great. Banging into walls or other vehicles usually means getting abruptly twisted in the wrong direction.
The entire racing experience is decidedly "arcadey," with drifting, boosting, and even the ability to jump tossed into the mix. As one might expect, drifting is easier to execute on asphalt than it is on dirt roads and sandy beaches, but the mechanic works fairly well regardless of what type of terrain you're racing on.