Cars Race-O-Rama Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii | PS2
Cars Race-O-Rama box art
System: Wii, X360, PS3, 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

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.

Cars Race-O-Rama screenshot

There are three levels of difficulty, and even in Beginner, the A.I. during story mode offers a decent challenge. There are no rubber-band antics, thankfully, but players will have to run a clean race in order to place first in events. In addition to the main races that progress the story, you can take on optional challenges along the way. These mini-games are mostly variants of other races or stunt challenges that, though little more than a novel distraction, add a bit of value to the overall package.

When you're not making your way through the story, you can take a break in the Arcade mode. Basically, everything you've unlocked in the story mode will be available for you to play here with a friend or family member. The Rust Bucket Derby, Circuit, and Monster Truck Races are all tracks and racing types you've already played through in the story mode, and it's the same for the mini-games and other challenges in Arcade. There are missions that require you to drive to a certain locale before time runs out, oftentimes performing a photo-op at the end of the mission. Lastly, is Guido Kart, which, with the exception of a handful of unimpressive, passively activated power-ups, isn't all that different from the game's normal racing.


In spite of the fact that Race-O-Rama offers a hefty selection of gameplay options and content, it suffers from poor optimization; it's an overriding factor that crops up at almost every turn in the game. For one, the load screens are long and there are plenty to wade through. Choose a track - load screen. Choose a car to play as - load screen. Once a race is completed… you get the picture. Load times can be anywhere from 30 seconds to a full minute in length.

Unfortunately, the visuals are another major issue with Race-O-Rama, as they drag down the gameplay experience significantly. The amount of pop-in when driving through areas of the world is atrocious, and there's no end to the shimmer. Though the car models and overworld areas all have a generally attractive aesthetic, matching the license fairly well, jagged textures and an overall lack of detail diminish what character the game has to offer. More importantly, however, the framerate drags; it's usually constant, but constantly chugging. I wouldn't go so far as to say it ruins the gameplay, but in a racing game, a slow framerate definitely hurts.

If you've played one Cars game, the music, dialogue, and sound effects here will all surely ring familiar in your ears. The same twangy themes fill up the background during races or when perusing the menus, and though you'll likely recognize the voices of many of the game's actors, they're all canned performances, repeated far too many times throughout the duration of the story.

Again, we have to ask: Why? Is there really that much demand for more Cars-related video games? If so, fans could do worse than Race-O-Rama. The vehicles handle well, and there's definitely plenty of single-player content for the money. That being said, the game is poorly optimized and brings absolutely nothing new to the racing genre. The open-world structure of the story mode is a neat concept, though the world itself isn't very interesting. Wii owners might find novelty in the motion controls, but they'll just as likely be wondering where the online multiplayer is.

By Tony Capri
CCC Freelance Writer

Car models look attractive, and the variety of environments is appreciated. However, there's constant shimmer, the textures are bland, and the framerate isn't up to snuff for a racing game.
The traditional-style controls work fine, but nothing about the gameplay feels all that polished. Motion controls for the Wii version, however, are surprisingly entertaining.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There's very little variety in terms of music, and the sound effects are uneventful. There are sprinklings of voice work throughout the game, but it's mostly all canned one-liners.

Play Value
There's certainly no shortage of content in Race-O-Rama, and quite a few of the tracks are truly enjoyable. However, the overworld has had little love put into it, and there are many minor issues and bugs that come together to create a fairly uninspired package.

Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • New Customization - Customize your world by customizing your cars. Modify paint color, wheels & rims, different hood options, side skirts, rear bumpers, and spoilers.
  • New Characters - There are over 30 playable characters of which 15 are brand new; Doc Hudson academy of student racers, Chick Hicks academy of student racers, Motor Co Pit Crew, Not Chuck, Guido, Tater, Tater Jr., Bubba, Trophy Girl, Chick Hicks Pit Crew, Doc Hudson Pit Crew, Vin Racer along with major boss characters who are Chick Hick's protégés; El Machismo, Candice, and Stinger.
  • New Worlds of Racing - Experience eight racing environments, four of which are completely brand new; Radiator Springs Speedway, Santa Carburera which takes you to the beaches, Motoropolis City where you can experience street racing and Autovia which gives you off road racing in the desert.

  • Screenshots / Images
    Cars Race-O-Rama screenshot - click to enlarge Cars Race-O-Rama screenshot - click to enlarge Cars Race-O-Rama screenshot - click to enlarge Cars Race-O-Rama screenshot - click to enlarge

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