Monday, October 16, 2023

Early Game Review: 'Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged'

These are boom times for Mattel, with the "Barbie" film staking claim at the box office and Mattel Adventure Park set to open in Glendale next year. So now is as good a time as any to push out a sequel to one of last year's surprise racing game hits.

While "Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged" doesn't reinvent the die-cast wheel, it manages to succeed by playing it safe.

Back is the standard setup of wild, toy set-inspired tracks that pulse with power-ups and speed enhancements. You rev up your boost meter by completing drifts, then blow past the competition with strategically-timed bursts that you save up.

The game is firmly aimed at the family audience, making it a solid choice for experienced gamers to play with beginners. Although the proceedings are colorful, friendly and unoffensive, they are still occasionally unforgiving. 

Mistimed jumps can easily toss you off the course, sending you careening around the floor until you opt to respawn. I'm an adept racing game player, but still found myself thrown for a loss. That's a credit to the challenging design.

While it felt to me like "Turbocharged" was more of a glorified map pack than a full-blown sequel, it's undoubtedly a fuller, richer experience than the original, and manages to smooth out some of the rough edges of its predecessor. While far from a necessary for all but the Hot Wheels-obsessed, this isn't something you'd toss out of your toy box.

Publisher provided review code.

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