REVIEW – While it’s mostly Milestone’s quality that shows through in the product, it’s perhaps not just for fans of Hot Wheels, whose shortcomings can be discovered relatively quickly.
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The game has a story mode called Hot Wheels City Rumble. Five bosses cause trouble in Hot Wheels City, and peace is brought back via three-lap races (as well as time trials). It’s about as logical as, say, Disney’s Magical Tetris Challenge, where we progress through the story by playing Tetris. (This plague doctor warmly recommends Tetris Effect: Connected. The base game was also a solid 9/10. Multiplayer? 9.5.) Achieving the set goal progresses you along the way, and those interested in more demanding challenges are rewarded with more rewards by picking Unleashed. There are 52 races, 32 time trials, nine secrets, and five boss fights (these are mostly longer races with some twists), and many of the routes have dead ends with rewards at the end. The secrets are unlocked by progressing on the streets, and the surprise boxes (should I say loot boxes?) have various prizes. It’s not very complicated, and it can be said: it’s a repetitive experience that tires the player quickly.
This problem is not helped by the fact that there are only five environments. OK, there will be more tracks on them as you progress, but the backgrounds don’t excite you much. Garage, university, skyscraper, skatepark, basement – these are the five locations. Not everything will be open by default, and our basement will be customisable. There’s no shortage of vehicle collection (the Hot Wheels licence is no coincidence), but there’s a slight issue with that: did I mention the surprise boxes? The problem with them is that you get something randomly, so there is the negative connotation of getting the same thing several times in a row, which spoils the atmosphere. The shop itself is often much more expensive, offering its items for only a limited time. The 68 cars fall into four categories (common, rare, legendary, and super treasure hunt), and let’s not forget how you can upgrade the vehicles (speed, braking power, acceleration, handling, boost). Once you find the right car that fits you the best, you won’t switch to something else (especially after upgrading them), which goes against the license. There are thousands of miniature cars already on the market (in fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe in the hundreds of thousands), so perhaps Milestone could have motivated players to consider that it might be worthwhile to go with another race car. You can’t drive the same car everywhere in Gran Turismo either (and hopefully, there will be such built-in constraints in 7).
The graphics bring somewhat of a plastic/metal car on the track feel, but still, when it comes to the music, I’m not sure they got something that might fit the franchise. (Of course, more often than not, I point out the lack of music from Milestone…) The handling is primarily reasonable (and here we can’t judge the physics: after all, this isn’t MotoGP, for example), but I think there is a distinct lack of camera angles: only ONE compared to the replays. That’s not enough. There are four levels of difficulty, and there is always the possibility to… well, let’s say, move your rivals out of the way. If you can also master boosting, you stand a good chance of winning, but you have to time it well (there are two types, the bar lasts until you run out of it, and the “pill” one goes per use).
If we mess up and fly off the track, there’s a button for that too, but in return, we’re likely to continue in a position of the teens. And in multiplayer, up to twelve players online, and two in local (and you can control whether you allow collisions and whether each vehicle category is allowed to race). You can even check the unique paint scheme of the others because you can do that too. There’s also a track editor, so it’s mainly up to the players to decide how much power they have in the long run for Hot Wheels Unleashed. Hopefully, it won’t run out of steam in a month or so. Oh, while I’m here, Milestone has varied again with more editions, and the Ultimate Edition (€50 instead of €90…) has given you three days early access and adds extra cars, a customisation pack, a track editor module and DLC. There are also two Hot Wheels Passes… so it’s quite a monetising mentality.
Hot Wheels Unleashed gets a seven out of ten because I think that while it’s a good game, it could have been better: the story mode gets stale quickly, the backgrounds get boring in a short time, the loot boxing is annoying, the background music isn’t given enough attention, there’s only one camera view, and I feel that the players are the ones who have to keep this game alive. I wouldn’t say this is a highly recommended game, certainly not for 50 euros. For this price, I would recommend it to Hot Wheels fans at most, no one else.
+ A track and livery editor
+ It can be fun
+ It has somewhat good vibes
– Even if not paid, the loot boxes are annoying
– The repetitive story and backgrounds make it tiresome quickly
– Why is there only one camera view?
Style: cars race
Release date: 27 (early access)/30 September 2021