|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, DS|
|Dev: Avalanche Software|
|Pub: Disney Interactive Studios|
|Release: June 21, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Cartoon Violence|
by Patriel Manning
Gamers who are old enough to have been through the golden age will remember a time when Disney games were considered to be equal to any other triple-A console experience. While those days haven't returned, things definitely looking up for Disney Interactive due, in part, to their recent release of Cars 2: The Video Game.
Picking up where the movie leaves off, players can choose to play as Lighting McQueen or Mater, as well as a few of the other characters as they train at CHROME (Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage) to become world-class spies.
The only really important thing you'll need to know about the Cars 2 movie tie-in is this: Cars 2 is just Mario Kart with an optional wheels package. This isn't a knock by any means; it's a huge compliment. Basically, instead of becoming overly ambitious and shooting for the moon, developer Avalanche Software saw exactly what they needed to do and executed it as well as they could.
The open world setting from the first Cars game is gone, and in its place is a series of themed challenges. Building off the concept that Lighting and crew are training to become international spies, the game makes clever use of some basic RPG-based principles. As you progress through the opening levels and learn the basic maneuvers, you'll earn experience points which, in turn will unlock things like additional characters and tracks.
The characters are split into three main groups: light, medium, and heavy. This plays out on the track the way you'd expect. Heavy cars are a bit slower in the bends, but are able to maintain their momentum when bumped by smaller vehicles or light attacks. Light cars are much more nimble but can't take too much damage. Medium cars, as their category name suggests, are right in the middle.
What I found most remarkable about each of the different vehicles was the careful animation that brought each of them to life. It must have helped that Avalanche Studios collaborated with Pixar Animation, because each of the characters feels perfectly suited to the universe. It also helps that a few of the film's actors (Larry the Cable Guy, John Turturro, and others) lent their voices to the game. It's apparent that a lot of work went into making sure that each of the characters was accurately represented. On the track, the cars' animations are just as lively. For all the stigma that's usually associated with movie tie-ins, there were very few graphical glitches or audio hiccups that made the overall product look or feel rushed.
The menus are all slick and fairly easy to navigate, and they sport a sort of holographic quality about them, which is fitting given the 'secret agent' setting. It's entertaining just to watch the characters drive around in the C.H.R.O.M.E. base interacting with the each other and the menu itself.