Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Disney/Pixar Cars 2

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Electronic Theatre ImageHaving released on multiple formats throughout this winter, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) version of the Disney/Pixar Cars 2 videogame is decidedly different to that of other consoles. Aside from the iOS releases, the PSP console is arguably the least powerful system to receive an edition of the movie tie-in, and as such has been subject to a separate development at Virtual Toys. However, despite the sole attention being aimed directly at the PSP release, it doesn’t seem as though Disney/Pixar Cars 2 has benefited from it.

Disney/Pixar Cars 2 is inspired by the motion-picture of the same name, offering fans the opportunity to play as some of their favourite characters. The storyline of the videogames is intended to continue from that of the film, however the core mode in Disney/Pixar Cars 2 on PSP is so lightweight that it’s unlikely that many players will Electronic Theatre Imagedraw any such context from the videogame: much of the plot is delivered as text during the loading sequences for the C.H.R.O.M.E. Missions gameplay mode.

The C.H.R.O.M.E. Missions mode is a series of individual challenges that grow in difficulty and build towards something that resembles a campaign mode. Beginning with the basic control of your vehicle and progressing through combat races and battle arenas, the C.H.R.O.M.E. Missions mode is based on the actions of the C.H.R.O.M.E. (Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage) outfit in the associated motion-picture.

A significant difference between Disney/Pixar Cars 2 on PSP and that of the versions available for other consoles is the perspective. Players don’t take up the usual position at the rear of the vehicle, but rather play from an isometric point-of-view. The player’s vehicle is seen at an angle similar to likes of Off-Road 4X4 and Micro Machines from previous console generations, but isn’t controlled in such a way. Holding the R trigger to accelerate, the player controls not the cornering of the vehicle, but the position of its turning arch. Moving the analog nub either left or right will adjust your position on the track rather than your direction. This does of course make Disney/Pixar Cars 2 a very simplified racing experience, and not one that will entertain experienced gamers for long.

A Free Play mode is available in addition to the C.H.R.O.M.E. Missions mode, hopeful of extending the lifespan of the videogame but in reality providing little more than a momentary distraction. A multiplayer mode is also available, allowing you to play against up to three friends, but of course each player Electronic Theatre Imagemust own their own PSP system and copy of the videogame; sadly, Electronic Theatre would not feel comfortable suggesting that one player purchase the PSP version of Disney/Pixar Cars 2, let alone a group of four friends.

Disney/Pixar Cars 2 presents a reasonable visual quality, with a decent amount of individual animation amongst the different characters from the motion-picture and detailed 3D backdrops. Unfortunately this is preceded by extensive loading delays, even by the standards of the PSP console.

Obviously designed for a young gaming audience, that Virtual Toys have been brave enough to attempt something different with Disney/Pixar Cars 2 on PSP, unfortunately the end result leaves a lot to be desired. No development studio ever sets out to make a bad videogame, but often aspects of the development cycle work against them. There’s no telling whether it was time constraints, budget or one of any number of problems that resulted in Disney/Pixar Cars 2 on PSP being a disappointing release, but the fact remains that it would be hard to find a reason to suggest anyone should purchase the videogame over the many more enjoyable racing titles on the PSP console.

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