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

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Rating: 4.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre ImageWhen presented with a movie tie-in one normally sighs deeply, simply because most of them lack the substance to be something other than a substandard game, however with Disney/Pixar: Cars one may be pleasantly surprised. This game follows the story of newly released movie of the same name, with players able to experience some of their favourite parts of the movie and aim to win the coveted Piston Cup.

The main area for the game is Radiator Springs, which acts as the HUB and, although set outElectronic Theatre Image into five separate Chapters, there are many objectives that needn’t be completed in a linear order and instead form interesting diversions from the main plot.

The main bulk of the game consists of Street Races you must complete to not only progress the story, but to earn the all important Trophy Points needed to unlock the crucial Piston Cup Speedway Races; which you must win all of to complete the game. The Street Races are quite varied and although based on only a few courses are changed enough to provide familiarity without so much repetition it feels you are only doing a couple of courses. One unfortunate feature is that the computer will let the player know as soon as they are going off-course and give them up to three seconds to get back on the Track before resetting – the point as to why this may be included is logical, how many times in Racing games have you spun off-course and lost races due to losing your way? Especially with this title having a child-friendly nature, it does seem like a good feature. The feature is a bit too sensitive, as it can be triggered by simply taking a corner too wide or shallow and will often put you back on track in the wrong place, making the player as likely to find it as infuriating as it is helpful.

With most of the Courses you drive using McQueen, but on certain others you drive as Sally, Mater in the RustBucket Race-O-Rama and you even get to chase down speeders as the Electronic Theatre ImageSheriff – which adds an almost Grand Theft Auto moment to the proceedings, as you look for pedestrians to mow down.

This isn’t a very technical Racer, although driving well does take a little practice at first, with players feeling the cars are heavy and unresponsive. It takes only a short time to get used to and when you drive round so much you soon wonder why you had such difficulty to begin with. As the game progresses a couple of new abilities for the car become unlocked, such as the Boost and the ability to go backwards with a double-tap of the X Button. Most of these new Power-Ups become uncovered when doing a Training Task or Race.  These Training Levels make you aware of the Power-Slide and when to use it, as well as obtaining new skills, so very often they are useful, if not essential to do.

There are quite a few Mini-Games, such as Luigi to the Rescue (in which you must drive around the main streets of Radiator Springs collecting spare tires and hubcaps) and my own personal favourite, Tipping Tractors, which sees you running round a field tipping over sleeping tractors, and avoiding being caught by the combine harvester Henry. Many players would agree there should be more of a destructible nature to the game – as hitting a barrel will cause your car to spin-out rather than the barrel being knocked over – this is a little surprising and annoying when going at fast speeds as Electronic Theatre Imageyou may find yourself cursing and having to do tricky three-point turns in order to get out of a corner. There are way too many Loading Times on this game, before every Race or Event, after the Cut-Scenes and everywhere in-between and, while gamers have mainly accepted the inevitable appearance of Loading Times, they seemed a little excessive with this title, Disney/Pixar: Cars has quite a dialogue heavy storyline and because of this we get so many Loading Screens.

As you continue playing the game you can earn Bonus Points with you use to unlock different cars and artwork. Although unlocking new cars does nothing for you in terms of the Story Mode, you can race as them in the Arcade and Versus Modes; these gameplay modes allow you to play any of the Speedway and Street Races and also the Mini-Games you have unlocked in the main game.

In terms of graphical prowess, I would describe Disney/Pixar: Cars as decidedly average and, although in one area there is a glitch which kept getting stuck, there were only a couple of instances where the game played-up. A few invisible walls grate a little and some of the Collision Detection can be occasionally poor, but these are relatively small problems when compared to the usual half-baked “it’s a kid’s game…” approach.

The sound for this game is a bit of a conundrum. Featuring songs from the movie Soundtrack, however when driving aroundElectronic Theatre Image from one-end of Radiator Springs to the other, there is not much variation with the songs and players will often feel like they’re constantly hearing the same songs over again. The Voice-Acting is also taken from the film and flips between vaguely amusing and annoyance very quickly. Passing cars on the road acknowledges the passing of local celebrity Lightning McQueen and if you bump into them they do get a little disgruntled and moan about their paintwork a great deal, but McQueen’s various “ka-pow” and “its great being me” quips get a bit much sometimes, and win no favours when it comes to liking your main character.

Overall Disney/Pixar: Cars is a very mixed bag. While the main part of the game is fun there are simply too many small problems to say this is a brilliant release. If you wanted a fun racing game for your GameCube, I would suggest Mario Kart: Double Dash!! over this, but when you consider the large amount of games given a film license end-up being very poor indeed, this is possibly one of the better movie tie-ins you could buy if you specifically wanted a game to go with the movie.

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