It has been two years since the Hot Wheels Unleashed franchise first debuted on our devices, and now, once again, the series is continuing to inspire the inner child of every gamer out there. Enter Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged, a game filled with even more fun and adventure than the first, enhancing the experience by bringing the physical toy cars to life in a customisable virtual world.
Stepping into the game feels like reliving a sacred part of my childhood, reminiscent of toy cars and neon orange plastic – the energy is palpable. The adrenaline-pumping soundtrack adds to the experience with every move you make throughout the game. This new, enhanced campaign with strong comic book-style storytelling is certainly geared towards children. With themes surrounding friendship and good vs evil – this game will engage and challenge young players, though older children may find the story mode boring outside of the relatively exciting boss battles, which I’ll admit had me quite compelled. As an adult, I found it cheesy but I suppose that’s the beauty of revisiting childhood entertainment – reminding us of a simpler time.
The updated car class system which now includes Rocket, Balanced, Swift, Drifter, Off-Road and Heavy Duty somewhat misses the mark for me. I find the differences very slight between some of them, and that most of the variety lies in the aesthetics of the vehicles, which Hot Wheels never miss on. The iconic colour palettes and silhouettes of the vehicles look as fantastic as ever – speeding down the tracks in various fantastical ways.
Speaking of fantastical – the track builder is back with even more features. There are five brand-new, visually stunning environments, each offering unique challenges and adventures. The Track Room was a lot of fun, with players starting with a blank canvas to create custom tracks, pushing the boundaries of imagination and design. This is only enhanced by the introduction of new track surfaces like grass and sand that impact vehicle handling, demanding skill, and strategic thinking during races – which hit the mark most of the time. Beyond just racing, the game invites players to interact with various elements both on and off the tracks, adding depth to the gameplay and immersing racers in a dynamic, responsive world. All very exciting and I am looking forward to seeing the incredible creations from the community using these new custom track features.
Something I really enjoy and appreciate in racing games is the sound design, and I think Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged did a great job. It was easy to hear the shift in engine sounds with the change of surroundings, getting all deep and reverberating in places like tunnels, even if they’re not as intense in open spaces. The soundtrack is also a vibe, with enough kick to keep the adrenaline high for every race without drowning everything else out, which can be a difficult balance.
Unlike the previous iteration, the game offers bonus loot and cars via its Forza-esc wheel spin opportunity which is linked to the car leveling experience. This adds more intricacies to its impressive catalogue of 130 vehicles, and also the possibility to customise their driving style. Using skill points, the player will be able to buy specific perks to influence the vehicle performances and create their own custom build. A revolution on the game’s previous car tuning experience, however at times some tune-ups made little to no difference, making it feel redundant at times.
I didn’t get a chance to test out the multiplayer when I was checking out the game, but honestly, I’m pretty hopeful it will be a lot of fun. To me, playing online is where it’s at with Hot Wheels Unleashed. Not only is it fun but it increases the game’s replayability – and at the end of the day, we all want to play with our friends. It’s a whole different game when you’re up against people from everywhere and with a few new cool moves, including jump and strafe – Hot Wheels seems to have levelled up its competitive edge. Although I did find jumping across tracks a little jarring while travelling at high speeds.
You can team up with your buddies before jumping into a game, which was impossible in the previous game. Playing online builds up points and boosts you in the global rankings, making it feel like you’re always working towards something within the game – making it super motivating for players. Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch has been left out of the game’s new cross-play feature, but hopefully, that will come in time. In the previous game, I enjoyed the various collaborations – especially the Jurassic Park crossover, which was a lot of fun. It is unknown if we will see some of our favourites return, however, a Fast & Furious tie-in is dropping at the same time as the game. Judging by the previous game’s collaborations, there are a ton of reasons to get pumped about what’s on the horizon.
It is very easy to get swept up by the plastic fantastic iconic imagery of the Hot Wheels franchise, with a clear dedication to true-to-life model cars, this game is a lot of fun if you don’t take it too seriously. Overall I enjoyed my time playing as multiple different vehicles, including bikes, however, my inner child may have found it repetitive outside of the custom building content. This game is sure to bring smiles to many small gamers’ faces as they zoom around the tracks, and I truly believe that is where this game will shine – with its intended audience, children.
Reviewed on Xbox Series X // Review code supplied by publisher
- PS5 / PS4 / Xbox Series X|S / Xbox One / Switch / PC
- October 19, 2023