When I hear the name Hot Wheels, my mind recalls fondly to memories of setting up the orange tracks all around my house. I would make such elaborate tracks, fascinated to see if my little car would speed round it or fly off and be lost under the sofa. I would make loop d’ loops, hairpin bends and of course the inevitable cliff of doom where the track would run all the way down the stairs only for the car to then fly off the end of the track and land onto a pillow.
Yes, Hot Wheels brings back so many memories of my childhood, so when Hot Wheels: Unleashed was first announced I became intrigued. I’ve played many kart style racing games in the past; Mario Kart, All-Star Fruit Racing, Crash Team Racing and Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2 to name a few. Each of those games was fun, enjoyable and easy to switch off to after a hard day. Also great for gaming nights!
Hot Wheels: Unleashed is essentially a kart racing game, however, unlike those all listed above you don’t have weapons that you can throw at the other racers. It’s almost like a blend of kart racing meets Forza. You have the fun of the elaborate vehicles and tracks of a kart racer mixed with the speed and feel of a Forza game. Each race has you on the edge of your seat, and if it’s a time trial you’ll be going around that track again and again in order to get your best lap time. The gameplay is certainly addictive!
The game of course comes with a quick race mode where you can choose your track and car and play to your heart’s content. It also includes online multiplayer and split-screen racing (nice to see more games using split-screen again!). You also have the ability to create your own custom track in the variety of locations that the game has to offer. Just don’t go too wild like I did making a loop d’ loop every 5 meters or you’ll be defying gravity every 10 seconds. The games main game mode, however, is called City Rumble and in this mode, you navigate a map full of challenges from quick races to time trials. Each time you complete a challenge you unlock a new challenge, moving one step further around the map. Once you reach the end of a certain street you unlock a reward. The most common being a blind box which is essentially like a loot box that you open in order to unlock a new car. The map also holds 9 secrets. In order to unlock these, you must progress further around the map to unlock them. City rumble is a very fun game mode and is a unique take visually on a standard racing career mode.
Visually the game is stunning when running on an Xbox Series X. The load times are quick allowing for a smooth and visually pleasing experience. The Xbox One version runs similarly as well, however, of course, you can tell the difference between the two consoles. Whereas the series X runs smoothly with little to no visual load time, when a race starts on the Xbox one version some textures (like on the cars for example) take a bit to load properly. This is only distracting when comparing the two versions and doesn’t detract from the experience.
I also love the little visual details this game has to offer that makes it authentic to the source material. The rugged bits of sticky tape that are placed in front of your cars on the starting line for example help to convey the scope of these races being very small when in reality you are surrounded by a large world like a building site or a skate park. It makes you feel like you are racing a toy car. It also lends to that nostalgic feel of how you and your friends would determine the starting lines while setting up a real track.
Sound-wise the audio effects used for the cars feel authentic and help immerse you in the feeling of fast-paced racing. The roar of the cars engines and screeching of tyres while drifting around corners really makes you feel like you’re driving real cars as opposed to a kart or toy car. The music as well lends to that fast-paced feeling throughout this game. There’s a really subtle feature with the music that I love, when you go around a loop d’ loop the music dips and then comes back in once you are back on a straight track. It helps give you that feeling of speed and loss of gravity that really immerses you in the game.
Overall Hot Wheels: Unleashed was an absolute blast to play. Its fun gameplay and a blend of nostalgia really makes this an enjoyable experience that is very hard to put down. You’ll feel the need to keep playing it over and over again. And with the addition of photo mode, you can share your experience online.
Hot Wheels: Unleashed gets a solid 10 out of 10 for its sheer fun and replayability.
Grab your prefered version of the game here – https://hotwheelsunleashed.com/
Hot Wheels: Unleashed is out now on Xbox One, Xbox series X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch and PC.
Reviewed on the Xbox Platform