Ahead of launch, I’ve had the pleasure of going behind the wheel in Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged to bring you my thoughts and impressions of the game. If you caught my review of its predecessor, Hot Wheels Unleashed, then you’ll recall I had almost nothing negative to say about Milestone’s nostalgic arcade racer. Given the chance, I was more than happy to see how the sequel stacks against its predecessor. After taking the game for a spin, I have to say Milestone did not disappoint.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged PS5 Review
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 starts off much like the game before it by throwing players immediately into a race and teaching them the basic mechanics of success. So that’s where this review will start.
New game, new mechanics, same pocket-sized fun
In Hot Wheels Unleashed 2, Milestone improved upon the base gameplay by adding two new driving mechanics: strafe and jump, then adding obstacles that force players to use these new additions in creative ways. If you were an avid player of the first game, then these new features will feel very natural, as if they were there since Hot Wheels Unleashed. The jump mechanic engages players when coming off certain jumps, allowing them to time when their vehicles take to the air and at what speed. A simple mechanic sure, but expert timing will allow veteran drivers to put themselves in advantageous positions as they land on the track.
Strafing or dashing, is a good defensive as well as offensive vehicle maneuver. Against the AI, players may not find themselves using it much. However, online players will find it useful for last-minute obstacle dodges as well as potentially causing mishaps for other racers. Trust me, being victimized by a car strafing into you and falling off a track with no rail guard is a great way to come in last place.
As before, there is not much to the moment-to-moment racing. Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 focuses on the basics of driving: accelerating, braking, drifting, and boosting. Hit certain track pieces and drifting well adds boost which players can then use to speed past opponents or to make up lost ground. Add having to jump to avoid certain obstacles and races now take a whole new form. Of course, the depth of gameplay again comes from the tracks themselves. whether it is a quick race, campaign, or custom track, the turns, loops, obstacles, and monsters add variety as well as challenge players’ ability to master the fundamentals of their vehicles.
Mo’ tracks, mo’ problems
A big part of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 is that it takes what we all love about the original and essentially turbocharges it. Along with new tracks designed to make players engage the new mechanics and reassess their skill behind the wheel, HWU2 adds new environments that change the background as well as scenery. In addition, the environments introduce new terrains consistent with each environment, giving solid reason to take a monster truck with low top speeds over a sports car when competing across tracks set in the Backyard. Of course, each new surface is not just for show. Whether its grass, dirt, plastic, or some other type, each affects the way vehicles behave.
HWU2 comes with five core game modes and a new focus on multiplayer. This year’s campaign is a story-driven campaign; however, it is geared towards children, something Milestone is very transparent about. The campaign itself plays much like the first HWU. And like the first, it weaves all the mechanics, race types, and tracks into one neat package. Of course, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 adds its new mechanics and race types into its bundle with races like elimination and the new boss races.
Perhaps the most intriguing change to the campaign was the latterly mentioned boss races. Not just a race against a tough opponent, boss races act as a final race for a section before moving to a new area of the campaign map. The race sees players in a type of objective-based time trial where drivers must run through specific checkpoint targets before the boss’s rage meter fills. Hitting a target diminishes the meter but it refills faster than the last putting a sense of urgency on players for missing even on target. Simple, but fun. The narrative itself is certainly designed for kids, but I will say it’s charming at the very least.
Quick Race, Editor modes, and online/split screen round out the rest of the game modes available. HWU2 brings a focus to multiplayer and with several new features for competing online. In addition to cross-play, players can join parties of up to I believe 12 (as that’s the max for a race) and play across several modes all online. There is a 1-2 player split screen mode for those who wish to play locally. Unfortunately, cross-play does exclude Nintendo Switch players. Whether coming in first place or dead last, all races contribute to your online ranking which can be viewed on the global leaderboard for online rankings. Online racing modes include:
- Quick Race
- Clash Derby
- Grab the Gears
- Drift Master
- and Waypoints
Much like Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged itself, my opinion is pretty straightforward. Veterans of Hot Wheels Unleashed will take to the game with ease. Milestone advertises the game as an enhancement and improvement to the first and it delivers on that promise. The new and simple mechanics breathe new life into track possibilities, challenges, and moment-to-moment gameplay. The core improvements to the game add a new dimension worth jumping in for. Enhancements to the livery and track editors mean we will see even more liveries and tracks shared online especially the online focus of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged. The game is easy to pick up and hard to put down.
At its core, it is a fun easy-to-learn arcade racer that expertly interweaves a love for the classic toy franchise that is Hot Wheels collecting. If you have not already, be sure to pre-order as the game launches October 19.
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Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged
An improvement on the formula, but overall more of the same game as its predecessor; however, still a ton of fun,
- New mechanics reinvigorate moment-to-moment gameplay
- Improved livery and track editor modes
- Online focus brings new features and enhancements for multiplayer
- Vehicles perks and attributes let players fine-tune their rides
- New story-driven campaign, but is geared toward children
- Must share liveries online before applying locally