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  • Writer's pictureOle Gamer Joe

HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED™ 2 - Turbocharged Review - Rev Up Your Engines!



Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged Review by Ole Gamer Joe

PC/XBOX/PS/SWITCH

10/19/23

Milestone S.r.l.


I think I was one of many people who were surprised at how good the original Hot Wheels Unleashed ended up being. No, it wasn't perfect, but the arcade racing was pretty damn fun, and it had lots of content that kept me playing for hours. So needless to say, I was excited about a sequel, and thankfully Milestone S.r.l. have created an equally enjoyable follow-up. If it wasn't obvious Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 is more of an arcade style racing game that features over 130 different types of Hot Wheels and plenty of ways to customize them as well. Yes, this go around vehicles have their own skill trees and can be upgraded using points that you earn across various modes. Unleashed 2 is a Hot Wheels fans wet dream, as the game pays great tribute to these classic toys in a very respectful manner. It didn't take me long to realize that the developer did their research into the Hot Wheels universe. From the painstakingly detailed cars themselves, to the child-like colorful looking tracks, great love and care has been put into the presentation while paying close attention to the history of the Hot Wheels brand.


In Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 players will have a pretty decent variety of game modes to choose from, 5 new modes in total, including a full on revamped single player campaign that can last up to 10 hours. This campaign even features a little bit of story, along with lovely comic book style cutscenes. No, you won't find a compelling narrative per say, but the fact that the developers went as far as to include a story in this game at all that isn't total cringe deserves applause. Throughout this campaign mode you'll encounter various challenges including standard races, elimination, time trials, and even boss encounters. Yes, I said that correctly, boss fights in a Hot Wheels racing game! Spread across a world map you'll select between different levels and complete them to unlock more areas and earn currency. This currency allows you to purchase new vehicles along with upgrades for those vehicles. It's an addicting loop that is quite fun, and while some of the challenges are tough, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 does feature difficulty options if you ever find yourself stuck. All told I really liked the campaign mode and found it to be very well done. There is so much to unlock without having to spend a dime, which I know is something fans of the original took issue with.


hot wheels purple motorcycle
You'll have no shortage of content to unlock

Other new features outside of the re-energized campaign are the ability to strafe and jump with your vehicles, and a totally redesigned track editor for those of you who are into that kind of thing. Spoiler alert, despite the fact that I am a content creator, creation in videogames is not my thing, but I am glad it exists for those of you that enjoy it. As I mentioned you'll have lots of new vehicles to choose from along with different vehicle types. From motorcycles to ATVs, the variety is impressive and makes for a diverse lineup in races. Vehicles can also be upgraded into different categories and leveled out individually. The customization is impressive, and with so many different cars the game could keep you busy for hours and hours if your goal is to max everything out. The cars you can purchase are a bit randomized, so getting rare vehicles might take a bit longer. I personally think fans are going to enjoy the new skill system as it does help to make each vehicle feel unique. If you happen to have a favorite Hot Wheels vehicle, it's exciting to max it out with upgrades.


In Total Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 not only features an insane number of vehicles but hosts 5 new environments broken up into various levels. I do wish there had been a few more, but just like with real Hot Wheels the customizable tracks help to make races feel exciting. Tracks will loop and twist, hell they'll even flip you over entirely from time to time. From an arcade to a Dinosaur Museum, the themes are fun and made a grown man ever so briefly feel like a kid again. Drifting across these tracks is also crucial to your success. The game places a heavy emphasis on the drift feature, along with boosting. Most of the driving mechanics felt really smooth and blazed along at high framerates only hindered by the occassional but rare framerate hitch that would stop the game in its tracks. Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 features plenty of visual options, but despite my tinkering I never found one that was completely free of strange performance hitches. These drops weren't enough to spoil the fun but were jarring when they occurred. It would appear a few more optimizations will be needed to keep things running perfectly.


motorcycle
The newly revamped campaign mode is a blast!

I know I mentioned that the campaign offers a variety of different challenges, but many of these modes are also available to be played separately, online, or locally via split-screen. There is time attack, clash derby, elimination, grab the gears, drift master, and waypoints. All of the modes were pretty fun to mess around with, though standard racing and elimination ended up being my personal favorites. The nice thing about playing online is that the game supports cross play but unfortunately that won't include the Nintendo Switch version.


As far as sound is concerned, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 has great energy in its soundtrack with electronic beats and synths throughout. While a lot of the music becomes a bit like background noise while racing, the roar of engines, sparks, and thuds when smashing into vehicles all have an authentic arcade sound that works well. And while the visuals aren't amazing or next gen looking, they are bright and colorful enough, with the Hot Wheels themselves being very authentic in appearance and well detailed.


Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 doesn't reinvent the wheel as far as arcade racers go, but it's sound mechanics and endless slew of unlockable content make it well worth your time if you enjoy arcade racers. I loved the campaign mode along with the ability to play with friends locally or online. The performance hitches were a bit of a drag, but not common enough to ruin my fun. If you enjoyed the first game, like arcade racing action, or just want to feel like a kid again, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 is an imaginative and fun experience worth checking out at some point, even if you wait for a sale.



PROS

+ Feels authentic

+ Tons of unlockables

+ Solid mechanics

+ Plenty of modes


- A bit light on worlds

- Minor performance issues

- Doesn't offer much new for the genre

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