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May Be Confusing For Younger Gamers
on June 25, 2006
My 7 year old son and I LOVED the movie Cars. We have several Cars books, the soundrack--my son even has Cars light-up sneakers and wallet!
It was with great anticipation that we got the PS2 Cars game a few days ago.
Let me start off by saying that this game is not very intuitive, and would definitely be problematic for younger children--even experienced racing or platform gamers. My son kept roaming the streets of Radiator Springs and I got to thinking "Man, there's GOT to be more to the game than this!"
So I went about trying to unlock various mini-games and races. (The guidebook wasn't much help.) I finally realized that not only did you need to "collect" (run into) lightning bolts for points, but you had to complete various races and mini-games to unlock more of the same. This isn't unusual, of course, but it's quite confusing. For example, a raceway may look familiar in the menu, but what you don't realize is that you need to race it *several times* to unlock other features.
I also figured out that the circular map on the screen (that you can disable if you want) features green and white dots on it. Green dots indicates a spot you can drive to for racing/games that it's an event you've already done. White dots are new events/games that you've unlocked.
Another confusing aspect is that there is an Arcade Mode and Story Mode--as well as other options. Figuring out what does what can be confusing. For example, let's say you've earned enough points to unlock cool paint jobs for Lightning McQueen. Well, you wouldn't go to Ramones, believe it or not. You have to first go to Bonus Materials, buy your paint job/s, THEN go back to Ramones for him to apply it. (And the load times seems unusually long!)
Other Bonus Material includes unlocking characters (Ramone, Flo, a souped up McQueen that's like a monster truck, Doc, the Sheriff, Sally, Mater, etc.), paint jobs, and movie clips.
Some of the mini-games are very difficult without the circular map. We played a "Find the Postcards" game and only found SIX out of 20 on our own WITHOUT the map. Some mini-games appear to have various levels, too. For example, there's a Tractor Tipping Game where you can be either Mater or Lightning. You must stealthily creep up on sleeping tractors, toot the horn to "tip" them, and avoid Frank's lights. In subsequent levels of this same mini-game, there are other moving searchlights you must avoid (in addition to a roaming Frank), and actions you must perform in order to access trucks in a maze (such as pushing wheeled bridges to cross over gulches.) I believe there are 6 levels to that game, which I've completed.
You can choose various levels of expertise, and Rookie seems to work just fine for me and my son. I'm able to win races in this game, whereas I can't even steer straight in games like Need for Speed! However, my son and I keep placing last in Mater's Rustbucket Race-O-Rama (a dirt track arena complete with hills and rusty car parts!), so I don't know what's up with that.
Other mini-games we've experienced so far (we're at the beginning of Chapter 2 in Story Mode) include Luigi finding tires (we're on Level 3) and racing with Doc while learning how to Power Slide. (This comes in handy for racing, because you earn extra points for tricks, including this Power Slide.)
One of the arena races features a very cool mini-game in the form of a Pit Stop: after exiting the raceway, there are four button games controlling Guido's tire changing. For example, there may be 5 symbols on a tire and you have to press them in order. Or, you may have to quickly toggle between square and circle for him to squeegy the windows in time.
We've already noticed several glitches on this game, including lagging/freezing, bright lights "spiking" from cars, and one level not even opening (black screen). I have a feeling that this game was rushed to coincide with the movie's release. We'll be taking it back to the store tomorrow, telling them it's defective. HOPEFULLY, it's only one game and the next one is fine, but I have a feeling it's a designer flaw...
If you like racing games, there's a lot here for you. You can free roam in an extensive landscape (off-roading, too), race various speedways and town races, and play amusing mini-games. It may be frustrating for younger gamers, as I said, so parents may need to babysit the controls to help unlock games. But if you're little one just likes to race and roam (or crash into other cars, as my son likes to do)--then it's a nice game.