Cars 3 – Driven to Win review (PS4)

The videogame counterpart to the recent Disney/Pixar movie, Cars 3: Driven to Win is now out on nearly all current and last-gen console systems. We played the Playstation 4 version of the game.

While Cars 3: Driven to Win is a tie-in to the recent movie Cars 3, it’s only loosely based on the movie with very few narrative ties to the Pixar film. The focus here is on racing, with gameplay that takes more than just a few cues from the likes of Mario Kart and Burnout. Publishing the title is Warner Bros, and at the helm is Avalanche Studios – perhaps ironically the studio behind Disney’s own Disney Infinity brand that was recently discontinued.

Avalanche’s ties to Infinity help them in two ways though – this is not the first time they’re animating characters from the Cars franchise, and with Infinity’s Speedway expansion they’ve already built a cartoon-inspired racing game before – sort of. Both of these things shine through when playing Cars 3: Driven to Win, especially when you look at the game modes available to you.

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The relative lack of tie-ins to the recent movie isn’t just felt in the lack of a narrative campaign – which would have been nice even if it’s a one-playthrough kind of affair. It can also be seen when looking at the audiovisual presentation. Avalanche has done a great job in delivering a great looking Cars title – with lots of attention to visual details on the characters that fans are certain to enjoy. Unfortunately, fans – at least the older ones – will also notice that the voiceover work wasn’t done by the original actors. This is probably not a big deal to younger fans, but when you’ve recently played LEGO Star Wars with voice work by many of the (Disney) movie’s main stars, it feels like a shame that Disney didn’t back Avalanche more in this regard. Sure, it’s probably a budget concern – and I have to commend Avalanche for doing such a great job within those constraints.

Cars 3: Driven to Win has a fairly wide array of game modes to choose from – though they’re all fairly familiar. Despite the lack of a story campaign you can still play in single player, but the real meat (and most of the fun) is in the multiplayer content. Battle and Takedown races are where you’re likely to spend most of your time assuming that you’re playing with a crowd of players over 7 years or so in age. Battle Races are quite similar to the gameplay in Mario Kart – with a race to the finish line infused with items and weapons to pick up and use against your opponents. You can also perform stunts – which can be practiced in a separate mode before trying them in Battle Races as well.

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Takedown isn’t as finish line-oriented at Battle Races are, as the name suggests. Here, it actually pays to stay behind and take out other players that way, but you have to be careful to not let others get too far ahead of you as well. Since Battle Races tend to be longer and more fun for everyone involved – it didn’t matter if you were battling for 1st or 4th, that’s what we ended up playing most.

For younger players, the Playground mode is absolutely perfect. In this mode there are no clear objectives and no one is trying to “beat” you, you can just leisurely drive around with some of your favorite Cars characters. It’s not the most exciting more to fans of Battle or Takedown races, but put it in the hands of a four year old Cars fan and he’ll have a blast.

To increase lasting appeal for this game, there is plenty of content to unlock and upgrade. Although the gameplay essentially stays the same, this creates a sense of progression and Cars fans will definitely want to unlock even the most unknown of Cars available to them. And because the actual racing portion of the game is incredibly solid, this is a great purchase for families who have Cars fans in their household and want to play together.

Score: 7.8/10

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