Hot Wheels Unleashed shrinks players to compete in toy-sized competitive racing. And although the idea of a Hot Wheels theme game may be niche on paper, if you like arcade racers, then this game is worth a try. Despite details provided, it’s impossible to know how well a game plays until you play it. After playing, I can confidently say Hot Wheels Unleashed creates a simple but competitive, and ultimately fun, experience.
Hot Wheel Unleashed Review
From the outset of our review, we were informed Hot Wheels Unleashed would require a patch. This is pretty consistent with most game receiving a sort of “day one” patch at launch. The contents of the patch included various general and minor fixes as well as some adjustments depending on platform. The patch also includes an update to the Track Editor tutorial, more on that later.
Even without the initial patch, the game ran smoothly; I personally did not encounter any bugs. If I did, they certainly did not stand in the way of playing nor enjoying the content offered by Hot Wheels Unleashed.
My absolute favorite part of Hot Wheels Unleashed is the simple gameplay. I must stress here that simple does not equate to lacking. The control scheme is very easy to pick up making the entry curve for new players fairly low. So low that I found myself easily frustrated with having to go through an opening tutorial; however, this is immediately forgivable as the game points this out and leaves players to discover more advanced techniques on their own.
Since the AI cars (at least when playing on medium) use these techniques, it becomes a matter of taking what you know and trying to imitate them. Very simple but rewarding conveyance for observant players. There is not much to the actual racing other than accelerating, braking, drifting, and boosting. Layers of depth in Hot Wheels Unleashed comes from the tracks themselves. In the beginning, most circuits are pretty straight forward, but as players progress, tracks begin adding obstacles. Avid Hot Wheels fans may recognize some of the course pieces from popular real life toys from back in the day.
Using the four aforementioned mechanics, players will need to dodge obstructions, evade animated pieces like giant spiders, traverse loops and jumps, and much more. In addition, players will need to accommodate for gravity. This ties into using boosts and momentum to clear certain obstacles like driving upside down through loops and much more.
In terms of track variety, there is a lot to see across five or six major locations serving as scenery and inverse track variations. My advice for starting? Play on medium for a solid competitive feel.
The content of Hot Wheels Unleashed takes place across several racing and editor modes. In terms of racing, there are many ways to do it. ‘Hot Wheels City Rumble’ serves as the core experience. Here, players traverse a large Hot Wheels city map by completing events to unlock the next set of nodes. Each node consists of a race and various objectives. Objectives coincide with the type of race held at each node. These can be things like coming in first place, placing in the top three, getting a specific lap time, among other things. City Rumble is also the place to earn coins, gears, and other unlocks. Coins and Gears are important for acquiring new vehicles and improving others. Like a certain car but its not fast enough? Break down other cars in your collection on top of earned gears to improve your vehicle of choice.
On top of City Rumble, players can compete in Quick Race (basic circuits) and Time Attack (time trials). Both race types are available offline. They are also regularly included in the City Rumble mode. In terms of online play, players can go head to head in 2-Player splitscreen, or up to 12 in online public or private lobbies. Online includes cross-play for consoles. Unfortunately, at the time of my playing, I was not able to connect to play online via Xbox Series X. From my understanding, this is addressed with the game’s patch for Xbox.
Your collection, your way
A huge part of Hot Wheels Unleashed is collecting Hot Wheels. The collection mode serves as a garage for all your stored vehicles. Here, players can look at and improve stats as well as scrap cars for resources and change liveries. There’s also the shop for purchasing brand-new cars. Your collection in its entirety is housed in what the game calls the ‘Basement’. Specifically, your basement. Nearly every aspect of the basement is customizable. Walls, doors, gaming chairs, shelves, and much more can swapped out on the fly. The basement is also one of the six environments for tracks to take place. Should players build a track with the Basement as their scenery, those who download and race on the track will see the creator’s Basement.
To give players even more control, Hot Wheels Unleashed features two large editor modes. The Track Editor and the Livery Editor. Both consisted of far more options than initially anticipated, especially the Livery Editor. When editing liveries, players choose the vehicle they wish to edit and begin with a blank slate. This means from top to bottom, players will be choosing materials from opaque plastics to metal flake and colors. On top of that, the editor offers a deep range of logos to resize and layer for true creativity. The only draw back to this mode is the wonky prerequisites for applying liveries. You must first share the livery online, then download your own creation before you can apply it to a vehicle. I’m sure there is a backend reason for this, but its still more effort than necessary.
Last but certainly not least is the Track Editor. Like building the actual toy tracks, the editor offers a variety of pieces including over 35 toy inspired pieces to twist, bend, and turn to create unique courses. This probably is the one mode that needed a deeper tutorial, however using the onscreen prompts and tooltips will get you by. There is a brief tutorial to also teach the absolute basics. There is much to explore here and aspiring creators will need to take some time with it but I think it will be well worth the time spent.
Hot Wheels Unleashed powers through a niche market to deliver a competitive and fun experience. Not only that, the visuals of the game are beautiful albeit they will not break any records. Overall, the game sets an immersive atmosphere from the visuals to flavor text of certain game modes. I’m not the biggest Hot Wheels toy fan, but I am definitely a fan of Hot Wheels Unleashed.
Want to talk sports and/or games with the fastest growing community in gaming? Join the conversation by registering at the official Sports Gamers Online Forums, and check out our Twitter and Facebook pages as well as our growing YouTube Channel!
Hot Wheels Unleashed