I’ve got fond memories playing with Hot Wheels toys in my younger years, with the super cool cars and ridiculous tracks making for plenty of silly fun. I guess you never grow out of them really, since I’ve even been able to play with them now in my older years with my nephew, leaving my sister less than impressed when we converted her living room into one big Hot Wheels course – it was worth it, of course, especially since the modern toys are more intense than ever. Basically, Hot Wheels are great, so it’s only fitting that Hot Wheels Unleashed makes for a super entertaining racing experience too.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Developed by racing aficionados Milestone, Hot Wheels Unleashed sees players racing with Hot Wheels vehicles (or, more fittingly, toys) across an array of locales. No, you’re not going to race along Nurburgring, but the likes of a garage, a college campus, a skate park, and a basement, with Hot Wheels track pieces making up the assortment of wild courses. It’s clear that the developer had a lot of fun embracing the Hot Wheels brand when creating these courses, with it never trying hard to strive towards outright realism but instead offering locales which could have been feasibly created by kids… well… if they had an endless assortment of track pieces, that is.
Courses are jam-packed with high-octane action though, with shortcuts and set pieces aplenty for racers to speed through. There’s just so much personality to be found across each one, with no duds found at all… just plenty of fun.
The vehicle selection is just as creative, with a TON of different Hot Wheels cars available for players to speed through tracks with. F1-style cars, dumper trucks, dinosaur-themed cars, a toaster on wheels (seriously) – to say Hot Wheels Unleashed’s vehicle selection Is unconventional would be an understatement, with the game certainly embracing the best (and most wacky) of the toy range. There’s even room for vehicles from real-life manufacturers such as Chevrolet, Honda, and Audi, whilst the Batmobile, Back to the Future’s DeLorean, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ iconic Party Wagon also show up. There’s something for everyone, with a wild ride sure to be had no matter what you’re driving. Each vehicle has its own stats too, so there’s plenty of room for experimentation to see what works best for you.
“Courses are jam-packed with high-octane action, with shortcuts and set pieces aplenty for racers to speed through.”
It’s clear then that Hot Wheels Unleashed manages to capture the vibe of the brand perfectly across its courses and vehicle selection, but how does the gameplay hold up? It plays much like an arcade racer, with players able to speed around freely whilst also boosting with a quick button press. It keeps things simple really, but it doesn’t matter since it’s the variety of the vehicles and the creativity of the tracks that’ll test your driving skills the most. It’s simple and accessible, but it works and it’s fun – it’s easy enough for youngsters to pick up and play too, though it does lack some of the assists seen in similar racers which is a shame.
Whilst players can take part in standard single races if they prefer, it’s the lengthy career mode that’s the most impressive, with ‘Hot Wheels City Rumble’ bringing with it an assortment of objectives to complete across its eighty-plus events. You’ve got standard races, time trials, and boss races to go through; it’s not the widest variety of event types, but the fantastic track design and intensity of the action ensures you won’t grow tired of it as you play. Completing certain events will also see players unlocking new vehicles, whilst the gold and gears earned can also be spent on vehicles (which are offered in blind bags which adds to the surprise), additional upgrades, or track parts. There’s a satisfying sense of progress to the mode that feels like it genuinely rewards the player for their victories, with the growing selection of cars and the track pieces standing out the most.
“To say Hot Wheels Unleashed’s vehicle selection Is unconventional would be an understatement, with the game certainly embracing the best (and most wacky) of the toy range.”
Those track pieces can be used in plenty of creative ways too, with Hot Wheels Unleashed’s track builder one of the best I’ve played around with. I like track builders in racing games anyway, but the way you can craft insane courses here feels so accessible and encourages player creativity. You can customise each track piece in any way you like, whilst it never stops being satisfying to set gravity-defying heights or a combo of loops to leave players feeling topsy-turvy when they’re racing on your course. Add to that the inventive modules that REALLY up the imagination of your creations, and you’ll quickly find yourself spending hours with a big smile on your face in the game’s track builder. You can share your own creations online or download those that other players have made, meaning there are essentially endless courses to race across in the game.
Players can also compete with others with online races supporting up to twelve players, whilst two players can enjoy local split-screen action. It’s mighty addictive too, especially with the variety of courses and vehicles, so its definitely an impressive offering if you can get a group of friends together to play.
“I played Hot Wheels Unleashed on the PlayStation 5 and it looked great, with everything in the game looking vibrant and realistic (in that Toy Story sort of way… you are using toys after all).”
I played Hot Wheels Unleashed on the PlayStation 5 and it looked great, with everything in the game looking vibrant and realistic (in that Toy Story sort of way… you are using toys after all), whilst the performance didn’t dip at all either. It was great seeing these digital re-creations of the toys I’ve seen in real life, whilst the little details go a long way in making it all the more believable. It’d have been easy for the developers to play it safe with the visuals, but nope, they’ve really gone all out in making it feels like an authentic Hot Wheels experience.
Hot Wheels Unleashed Summary
Hot Wheels Unleashed is a blast to play, with its impressive track and vehicle selection making for a mighty fun arcade-style racing experience. There’s plenty on offer across its surprisingly meaty career mode, whilst unlocking new cars and track pieces never stops being satisfying – especially when using them in the robust track builder that allows players to really let their creativity shine.
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC