“Hot Wheels from Mattel” is what the “Hot Wheels” mini toy cars were called. They are now known around the world as “Hot Wheels”, and in many families, young racers not only use them to explore carpets, wood floors and all sorts of other drivable surfaces, but also use crazy racing tracks with the track builder (the older ones). , for example, this is still known from the time of the Eldda Railway).
Italian racing game developer “Milestone” brilliantly succeeded in bringing this to the world of video games with “Hot Wheels Unleashed” in the fall of 2021. And now the video game company is following up with “Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged.” We asked ourselves: What should this part offer differently or better than the first part? Why not just create an extension? Because there will probably be new crazy cars, new tracks, and that’s it. Not even close! After about ten hours of play, we can say: This is a truly tremendous development. We’re very excited, but we also discovered a terrible flaw. More about this in this article.
Of course, the second part is about nothing less than victory. However, for the first time, there’s also a story (“Milestone” sells it as a career mode, but that’s actually a very good thing) to follow. Adults will probably find the irrelevant narration and exposition annoying, but for kids it’s fascinating and attractively designed in comic book style. There they meet Robert and Darla, who are joined by their beloved robot friend XR046 to save the city from mysterious creatures that Professor Tanabe accidentally unleashed.
Thanks to the shrinking machine, the Professor is able to make the heroes so small that they can race in toy cars. However, the goal is to restore peace to the city, and this can only be done by gradually confronting five opposition leaders.
On your way to the main individual competitors, you have to prove yourself in many races. Our cars have different abilities, some are particularly good at drifting, others are like a rocket on straights, and others are better suited for off-roading, even if they don’t necessarily look like it. Speaking of appearance: Of course we can visually redesign our cars and make the new design available to the community as well. Well, we should quickly get to the “what we liked” category. Because this is a lot:
What we liked
At first we thought that the possibility of redesigning the cars was unnecessary bells and whistles for us. In fact, we really liked it – we haven’t experienced things like this in other games. We did that here and initially had trouble figuring out how to start the car and which buttons to press to change anything. The explanation was not particularly successful, and the question is whether the children are simply better at their intuition or whether they are reaching their limits altogether. But it’s a lot of fun to design your fleet of cars according to your own desires. Everyone should know who’s in front!
But the first thing we liked was the feel. The feeling you get when you enter the first race and hear the sound and see the track and the other cars in those excellent graphics (and learn that you have to accelerate before the “2” appears on the countdown to get that extra boost), and then it starts, and then you’re back to the topic of speed this. If a game can have you sitting on the edge of the couch from the start, in a rush even if you’re driving toy cars on plastic tracks, then it’s a good game. “Hot Wheels Unleashed 1” manages to do just that, and the successor is in no way inferior.
But the back has a twist in the torso! In “Hot Wheels Unleashed” we can now not only jump to overcome obstacles, but we can also extend our elbows left and right. We can collide! This isn’t exactly the best way to do it, but even a bandit in “Sophisticated Scoundrel” can’t do without it. And, you know, he was a gentleman in the street, right? This means we can let our car swing to the left or right, which is very useful even if you are in danger of going off the track. This functionality has already saved us from crashes several times. However, we did find that colliding with opponents is somehow crucial to the game. But in online games with friends, it is of course great fun.
Of course, the ability to jump also helps track designers, because now you can build fantasy tracks in the old Trackmania style that can only be driven if you spend certain portions of the driving time in the air. And during a very exciting online game we realized that it is also possible to double jump to reach a higher level. Therefore, the advice: If you break down at any moment, it is not the fault of the road, but always your fault or the fault of your car. Because all tracks, including those in online mode, must be tested first by the track maker. If the destination cannot be reached, the route may not be published.
This takes us directly to the path builder. It’s now better than the previous one (we cut one and then gave up in frustration), but there’s still room for improvement in the explanation. There’s a bad tutorial, and then you’re on your own with the material. A small list tells you things, but you don’t connect it to what you want to do at the moment, i.e. create a great path. There is a lot of trial and error. Sure, it could be organized better, but if you have a little patience and master spatial thinking, you can build impressive routes. We’ve published our four-ring route online, and drivers around the world are now driving poorly off the tracks in online matches in some places. You have to be able to do this to get to the finish line with us. Leading with insight is worth a lot!
We also liked the new talent tree, which is more of a talent plant than a talent tree, but through which we can upgrade our cars, which are divided into six driving classes accordingly. For example, we can ensure that the car builds less traction in slipstream and becomes stronger when handling while drifting – which we can only recommend. Don’t think that you can also pass the drift race with the hot sled with which you have already won four races. That’s why there are different classes, and there are also a few tactics used in deciding which car and strengths to take part in which race. At first we were convinced that we would be able to master any race with the best car in our garage. But this is not the case, which is why the game makes us spend more time with our cars in the garage. This is also more fun as the menu has become clearer and friendlier.
So is the game doing everything right? not exactly.
What we didn’t like
Of course we also have something to complain about, and really complain about. The biggest drawback (which fortunately can be fixed) is the server issue. We could have published this review after the embargo lifted on Monday, but we wanted to wait to see if the server issue would be resolved on release day. Unfortunately no. Thus we start the game on our PS5, we are asked to press any key, and then watch the loading screen for 58 seconds, which informs us via an icon in the upper right corner that it is already loading. It then says: Error connecting to Milestone services. It works on the second or third try. But this is very annoying. This is the case every time. Every time you start the game.
Unfortunately this is not enough. If we wanted to compete against others in an online multiplayer game, it would take minutes to find match partners. If yes. Here’s the comparison to Trackmania again: you can’t go to the kitchen and get a new drink, the race has already begun. In “Hot Wheels”, you return after temporarily brewing tea and still see the same screen: “Finding a Match”. At least there are Pow! Exciting around him. We are not satisfied with much. But you also have to say: If it works, and when you find playing partners and they don’t donate again, it will work permanently.
Minor errors can be found in submenus. For example, after a race, the screen shows details of the race: how long we drifted, how long was our boost, and what was the best course. On the left side we can choose between Replay, Mode Selection, Path Selection, Restart or the fateful “Return”. On the right, the menu shows us that we can select something using the x button or “return” using the circle button. Now who would doubt that the right “back” is different from the left? no one. Using the circle button we return to the previous screen (where we do not want to go at all), using the left “Back” button we return to the top menu (which is what we want). Why do you have to make it so complicated that it takes me five moves to get back to the menu. Damn UX designers!
Where are the track environments from the first part? We were really hoping that it would be possible to gradually unlock older environments, but unfortunately it’s not included. A look at the season pass shows that there will be three more environments soon, but unfortunately the old environments from the first part are not present. We find that very unfortunate.
“Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged” is once again a positive surprise in the sequel, great fun for all generations who grew up with toy cars or still do. It’s an arcade racing game between games and fun for long evenings. Alone, as a couple on the couch, or alone against the rest of the world in multiplayer. If Milestone can get the server issues under control and we meet more people who want to play online, we’re really looking forward to this winter and all kinds of encounters on the plastic roads of the world.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged has been available since October 19, 2023 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series It costs about 50 euros.
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