Hot Wheels is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most iconic toy brands in the entire world. The miniature vehicle manufacturer not only grew to become a toy titan by producing replicas of real vehicles, but by also creating absurd and outright wild designs of their own, and thanks to this success, we've seen a bunch of Hot Wheels video games over the years. The next to join that long list of titles is Hot Wheels Unleashed, an arcade racer that is being developed by Milestone, the same studio who brought us MotoGP 21, Ride 4, Monster Energy Supercross, as well as a bunch of other racers.
Ahead of its September 30 release date, we've had the opportunity to dive into and play around with a few different parts of Hot Wheels Unleashed to check out the style of racing it's bringing to the table, and our initial impressions are pretty positive.
First of all however, let's set the record straight. Hot Wheels is a kids toy brand for the most part, and this racer seems to be developed for a similar younger audience. The controls are incredibly simple and the general mechanics are less intense than even Mario Kart. But that doesn't mean the game itself is slow or dull, because where it lacks in bringing intricate driving mechanics or the sorts of strange items that identify a kart racer (i.e. Red Shells from Mario Kart), Hot Wheels Unleashed makes up in speed.
This is a title that is designed to see players drive at very fast speeds across its arcade-like tracks that take place across a variety of locations, such as at the top of a skyscraper. The driving will require some skill as the speed will mean that you will fall off the tracks, or overshoot jumps, but this is not a racer where you have to worry about slowing down around corners all that much. The game is tailored for players to just keep the accelerator constantly held down, and that does make Hot Wheels Unleashed pretty darn entertaining.
The tracks themselves also seem to be a high-point and use the iconic orange Hot Wheels track toys as the medium on which you'll be racing over. Each track is set in a different location and can be either a multiple lap race or a single lap one, and each is also unique enough in where it takes you and what it offers that it feels fresh to race on. To keep things even more interesting, there are; loop-the-loops, jumps, parts of the tracks without barriers, boost platforms, and various hazards; such as fans that will blow you off the track and spider robots that fire webbing onto the track to stop you in your place. So, despite the game being easy to pick up and dive into, don't expect zero challenges along the way.
But a Hot Wheels game is not a Hot Wheels game without some wacky and wild vehicles to race. So, does Unleashed deliver? From what we've seen, which is around 30 cars (each from former Hot Wheels lines), the answer to that question is a resounding yes. You can drive muscle cars, sports cars, Formula One looking vehicles, hot dogs with engines strapped to the back, a toaster on wheels, a tank, and that's just scratching the surface. The full game even promises 60+ vehicles to take to the track, so you know it doesn't lack there.
Each vehicle also comes with a specific set of statistics that defines its strengths and weaknesses. The tank for example, as you would expect, is slow, but has great handling and takes corners with ease, whereas the Street wiener (the hot dog car) offers immense speed but handles super poorly, making it a terrible choice for tracks with lots of turns and corners.
One of the other areas that really caught our attention was the visuals of the game. Hot Wheels Unleashed is stunning through and through: Whether we're talking about the environments that each feel unique, or the cars themselves (you can see the individual details that show these are toy models and not real machines), Milestone has done a great job so far at bringing the world to life.
Since we only got to test the quick play feature (and split-screen), we're yet to see how the Career mode, Time Attack, and multiplayer works, to show how this title will look at launch. But, from our experience so far, Hot Wheels Unleashed is shaping up to be an arcade racer that will entertain audiences both young and old, just know that this won't be offering up the same sim-racing experience we usually see from Milestone.