Movie tie-ins never inspire a great deal of confidence in gamers who have, too often, been burned by mediocre games. So, most expectations for Cars 3: Driven to Win are probably set very low. After all, this title has been released specifically to cash in on the release of Pixar’s Cars 3 and as such, will most likely not be a game changer when it comes to the racing genre. The real question is whether Avalanche Software has done enough to justify purchasing this game despite these issues.
At its heart, Cars 3: Driven to Win is a kart racer that plays in a similar style to Mario Kart. If you have ever played one of these games, you’ll be able to pick up this title and jump straight into the action. Most of the controls have been simplified so that even young children shouldn’t have any problems. Actions like accelerating, boosting, and firing weapons are all mapped to one button and are easy to understand. That isn’t to say that there isn’t any challenge to Driven to Win, though. A wide array of difficulty options means you can tune the game to the ability of the player to make sure things don’t become too simple or difficult. Consequently, Driven to Win is accessible to people of all abilities and no one should be left out.
A system of skill checks manages how content is unlocked and how the player progresses. There are more than 120 skill checks spread across the different modes. They can range from completing a race to performing certain actions a set number of times. Once you’ve unlocked enough, you unlock a master event so you can face off against a special opponent. Skill checks can pretty much be unlocked as you see fit. As a result, you don’t get frustrated by being stuck on one particular challenge for too long. You can just go for a different check whenever you want.
No one will come away from Cars 3: Driven to Win feeling as if it is not an authentic video game recreation of the Cars series. The environments where each track is located have been recreated perfectly from their film versions. It takes just a quick glance to recognize where you are. Furthermore, the same can be said of the cast of characters that you will see. A total of 20 different cars are available to race and each looks and acts like its respective screen persona.
Conversely, the sound design is lacking, especially when heard in the context of the excellent visuals. The soundtrack suffers from a lack of variety, and the effects for the action are not as polished as you might like. It is nothing too serious, but it is enough to impact on the overall enjoyment.
Perhaps the main sound issue is with the voice acting. Different actors have been used in the game. While they do have some similarity to the movie actors, they sound different enough to be jarring. This is especially problematic when the characters have a limited vocabulary. Expect to become frustrated with the repetitious exclamations.
Another problem is that Cars 3: Driven to Win doesn’t make use of the franchise it is based on. Without the character models and aesthetics taken from the Cars films, this could just as easily be any racing game in its own right. While one might argue this is a good thing and the developers have created a solid foundation for their game, it does feel like a missed opportunity. The team could have integrated the game into the Cars intellectual properly in a far more effective manner.
Above all, Cars 3: Driven to Win is a kart racer that also offers a lot more than just simple racing. The variety of game modes provide a lot of value for money in terms of giving you plenty of reasons to keep playing. There’s a time trial option that works similarly to Formula 1 qualifying, where the aim is to get the best time possible over a single lap. Similarly, there is also a stunt showcase in which players have to perform all manner of tricks to get the highest points. There’s even a sandbox game mode where it is possible to just drive around and do whatever you want, whether that is performing stunts or taking out other drivers.
It is this that really tips the balance when it comes to summarizing Cars 3: Driven to Win. There is no arguing that it is a simple game that doesn’t introduce anything new. However, it is not actually trying to do that. Cars 3: Driven to Win achieves the goal of being a fun game that is ideally suited to be played by children while containing enough substance to also be enjoyable for adults.