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

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            THQ have taken their usual route of releasing their AAA children’s title on a multitude of formats. Disney/Pixar: Cars is based on the film of the same name and has been released on every major console format – bar the Xbox360 – with even a release coming on Wii in time for Christmas. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the release on the NintendoDS demonstrated some real flare for developing a top-class children’s game which still requires skill and perfectly follows the ideology of it’s host format – innovative new games. The GameCube version also had a good innings, and deserves recognition within the set field. The Xbox and PlayStation2 version are most likely identical to the GameCube release – as is the tradition with modern multi-format videogame titles – but without a full analysis, there’s no way to be sure.

            The development team have obviously taken note from a similarly licensed title released across the spread of the Current-Generation, The Simpsons: Hit & Run, when designing Disney/Pixar: Cars. Electronic Theatre ImageThe handling of the vehicles is closely related, although some extra refinement has clearly built upon the ideas of the original. The design of the town, Radiator Springs – which acts as the HUB for the title – ranges from straight-runs to dips and curves much like Vivendi’s fictional Springfield , and the pastel tones of the buildings and backdrops are practically identical.

            The HUB in itself is an idea also inspired by the aforementioned title, yet borrowed entirely from Midnight Club and, in turn, Need For Speed: Underground. Allowing free access to the entirety of the game – most of the Tracks included – the action is Free Roaming with the player driving between Missions selecting which to take part in. The Missions range between basic Races to a variety of Mini-Games. Selected Mini-Games offer great replay value, whereas others will be taken as merely a step needed to progress through the story. The Mini-Games and Training Missions have multiple levels of difficulty to play through, each rewarding more and more of the games Trophies.

            The Trophies are required to unlock further Races in the Piston Cup – the main objective of Electronic Theatre Imagethe Story Mode. The Races are usually based on Tracks available as part of the HUB, and consist of three Laps. A small amount of progression will enable a Boost feature on the L Trigger, denoted by a meter in the bottom-right of the screen. With the Boost Meter recharging incredibly quickly, it often eliminates much of the challenge in many of the Street Races; although this feature is restricted from the Piston Cup Races. The Arcade Mode is much a repetition of the Story Mode, a nice added feature for quick-play which helps to unlock much of the Disney/Pixar: Cars related Bonus Content on the disc.

            The title’s presentation is comfortable, with only minor Frame-Rate issues. The exclusion of a behind-view is noticeable by it’s absence and there is little in the way of special effects. Conversely, there is no Polygon Pop-Up to speak of, and the animation of the Electronic Theatre ImageCharacter Models is as accurate to their film counter-parts as could be accomplished on the Current-Generation. The annoyance which is seemingly resigned to the Xbox version solely is that, throughout our testing, the game frequently crashed causing occasional lose of progress data. The inclusion of regular Save Prompts rescues this disappointment from being crushing to a game which shows some degree of confidence, but when coupled with the lack of Backwards Compatibility support on the Xbox360, the title seems to have been given a cold shoulder by Microsoft entirely – as with the distinctly absent XboxLIVE! portion of the Multi-Player.

            THQ have redeemed much of their previous disappointing use of licences with a pleasing title, perfectly suited to it’s target audience. Adults will be able to enjoy the title along with children as a level of challenge is involved that at times may rile even the most hardened gamer. A few issues plague a title that is distinctive, but ultimately a repetition of previous ideals bundled into one tidy, child-friendly package. Electronic Theatre Image





















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