I’ll be honest and admit I went into Cars 3: Driven to Win with zero expectations. In fact, I’d go as far as saying I was ready to be completely underwhelmed by it – not because I thought the game was going to be bad, but rather because I’ve never found myself invested in Lightning McQueen’s daring movies, let alone their video game counterparts. What a surprise it was then when I not only found myself thoroughly enjoying the game, but also calling on friends so they could join in on the action too. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to be blown away by what the game has to offer nor will it last you all that long, but if you want some simple arcade racing fun then Cars 3: Driven to Win is worth taking a look at.
Cars 3: Driven to Win puts you into the sho- I mean, into the wheels of Lightning McQueen, racing extraordinaire whose best days are sadly behind him. This doesn’t stop him from wanting to prove he still has it though, so he decides to show the world he’s still got the speed and skills to compete with the very best – in this case, Jackson Storm. Thus, he’s challenged to compete in countless events with the ultimate goal of facing off against the new top dog of the racing world to prove once and for all that he is still number one. In honesty, the story elements of the game are forgettable, but it’s neat to have some background behind the events. Where Cars 3: Driven to Win shines is in it’s racing, so don’t be surprised if you completely forget there was a reason to it all by the time you reach the end.
One of Cars 3: Driven to Win’s neatest features is the selection of ‘Skill Checks’ it poses on the player, with 136 individual challenges available in all. Most of these challenges offer simple objectives such as winning an event, coming first a specific amount of times, destroying a set amount of vehicles, or even driving backwards for a prolonged time, but others are a bit trickier and will demand more attention from the player. Whichever Skill Check you’re working towards though, they always challenge you to play the game a little differently and take advantage of some of the more novel gameplay mechanics. It’s a neat concept and I had fun unlocking as many of them as I could.
Racing itself is incredibly simple in design, though it does have a few neat tricks that add excitement to each showdown. You’ll be shifting your car around to drive backwards or on two wheels, drifting across corners, and even pulling off acrobatic jumps to try and force your way ahead of your foes. You can even smash into your rivals with a quick side swipe, knocking them off their racing line and giving you a little increase to your boost. It’s a cheeky way to get the advantage in a race, but it’s always satisfying – especially in multiplayer…
Performing any of these racing tricks increases your boost meter, which is pretty vital in Cars 3: Driven to Win. Those expecting an easy ride are in for a shock, with your opponents never that far behind you when played on any difficulty other than easy. In fact, don’t be surprised if they pip you to the finish line on more than a few occasions. You need to ensure you’ve always got a decent amount of boost at your disposal to maintain the upper hand, so you’ll have to keep pulling off a decent variety of tricks alongside your racing if you want to earn a victory. If you manage to fill your boost meter to the max you’ll even be able to go ‘In the Zone’, giving you an even more enhanced speed boost that can see you zooming way ahead of your rivals. Resisting the temptation to use up your boost before filling it is difficult though, especially seeing as most races in the game prove to be pretty competitive.
You can gain some advantage though by using the countless shortcuts littered across each track. Cars 3: Driven to Win has some well designed tracks that offer multiple routes to take – whilst there’s always a main road to follow, more observant racers will always be able to notice a few little shortcuts that’ll shave some seconds off their time. It makes for some unpredictable racing, though be warned: AI racers will also take advantage of these shortcuts too.
You won’t just be taking part in standard races in Cars 3: Driven to Win, with a variety of different modes on offer. Outside of normal races you’ve got battle races where you can use weapons to take out opponents, takedown events where you’re tasked with smashing down an almost endless amount of smaller cars, stunt events where the most acrobatic racers are victorious, and time trials that challenge you to beat the record times on each track. Each mode gives you something completely different to play, adding a bit of variety that’s often missing in these arcade style racers. They’re complimented by the Skill Checks too, with the game actively encouraging you to play around in each mode in order to progress through the game.
Outside of the single player racing, Cars 3: Driven to Win also features local multiplayer modes that allow you to hit the track with a group of friends. This is where the game really shines; I found myself playing in multiplayer for hours on end, with the often chaotic gameplay making for some surprisingly tense races. I didn’t expect to be as hooked into the game as I was, but I really couldn’t get enough of it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the best competitive racer you’re ever going to play nor does it even come close to reaching Mario Kart levels of greatness, but it’s certainly a fun little endeavour that’s easy to find yourself investing an evening in. Its local multiplayer only though, so unless you got friends with you you’ll be sticking to single player modes only.
Despite it being fun to play, I don’t know how long you’ll stick at Cars 3: Driven to Win for before getting bored though. Whilst I enjoyed playing it, it didn’t take me too long before I started to tire of the almost endless single player challenges. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of neat unlockables like extra characters and customisation options, but I felt like I saw everything the game had to offer as far as single player went after the first few hours. It isn’t a game that’ll really absorb you in for the long term and given that it’s a full price release those looking for a meatier racing experience might want to look elsewhere.
I love being surprised by a video game and Cars 3: Driven to Win certainly did that. I had a lot of fun playing through the single player challenges and whilst I did grow tired of it quite quickly, the multiplayer modes kept me coming back for more.
There’s no denying there are better racers out there, but if you’re a fan of simple arcadey racers or Disney Pixar’s Cars universe it might be worth taking a look at Cars 3: Driven to Win.
Developer: Avalanche Software
Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: 14/07/2017
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed) Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Wii U.