Cars 3: Driven to Win is the movie tie-in game for Disney's Cars 3 and is certainly a title worth thinking about for fans of the Pixar series. It's essentially a smooth 3rd person racer with some crunchy shooting elements sprinkled into the mix with simple, easy to grasp driving mechanics for younger players. But don't be fooled because this game beautifully avoids the patronising danger zone by adding some much-needed complexity for more experienced players with difficulty ramping up in some of the racing events.
Racing in Cars 3: Driven to Win revolves around your 'Turbo Boost' ability which allows you to dash forward with a burst of super speed. The segmented Turbo meter fills up as you perform various tricks such as driving on two wheels, driving backwards, drifting, and air stunts. The boost really is essential as the AI cars use it heavily and, unless you focus on filling up the meter and blasting off as frequently as possible, you will find yourself trailing behind. Filling up all four segments of the bar allows the player to enter 'Frenzy Mode' which is Cars 3's answer to Mario Kart's Star power-up. In Frenzy Mode, players can charge into other cars at super speed and knock them out of their way while gaining positions.
The game centres around the 'Hall of Fame', a checklist of challenges to complete which unlock new stages and events, characters, and custom parts to customise your cars. There's a staggering 136 challenges in total, including a whole column of challenges for split-screen multiplayer, but more on that later.
Cars 3: Driven to Win follows the movie's art style with vibrant locations for each track and slick looking vehicles. Obviously, the graphical fidelity is nowhere near as polished as the actual movie, but it certainly captures the visual style well. Some fans of the series may be a little frustrated though as voice acting is not provided by the original actors and leaves a lot to be desired.
There are 6 game modes that unlock as your progress: Race, Battle Race, Takedown, Stunt Showcase, Best Lap Challenge and Playground. Race mode is exactly what it says on the tin; the player competes against other cars to get to the finish line fastest. Battle Race is basically Race mode but with added fire power as players use various weapons such as road mines, oil slicks and rockets to blast opponents out of the way and overtake.
Then there's Takedown. In Takedown, players use weapons and power-ups to 'take down' as many of the other cars, and score as many points, as imaginable before the timer runs out. The player with the most points at the end of the round wins. This mode creates some satisfying chaos and peppering your opponents with rapid fire bullets feels great with the vibrant, explosive visuals on screen.
Stunt Showcase is exactly what it sounds like; you perform tricks and stunts to earn points and impress the crowds. Best Lap Challenge is basically just time trials for various tracks. Playground is a sandbox mode allowing players to race at their leisure, practice tricks, complete those all-important Hall of Fame challenges, or just take a casual drive.
Master level events, featuring iconic characters from the Cars series, are some of the events unlocked as you advance through the game and complete enough challenges for the hall of fame checklist. These events are fairly challenging and will require all the skills you've learned throughout which adds a nice layer of difficulty should you want it. Cup events also add a generous helping of replayability, having players compete in 3 events to win a cup.
As of yet, there is no online multiplayer, but Cars 3: Driven to win does support split-screen for up to 4 players. All events, except for Master level, can be played in split-screen so there's a decent amount of multiplayer content should you want some company on your couch.
There do seem to be some well-loved characters missing from the roster so far, but we have high hopes for DLC bringing in some familiar faces. Character customisation is also fairly limited with only 3 options to alter (horn sounds, lighting and boost effects). Paint jobs are missing entirely, but again, there's always DLC to come.
If anything, Cars 3: Driven to Win certainly doubles up as a nice, if a little cheaper, alternative to Mario Kart. With releases on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3 & 4, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox one, availability certainly isn't an issue either! All in all, Cars 3: Driven to Win is a nice companion to the movie and is certainly a game worthy of your library if you're a fan of the Cars series, or if you just want to drive around and have some fun with your mates.