Cars 3: Driven to Win (Switch) Review
Movie tie-in games have a long lived reputation; more often than not, they’re mediocre or bad. So even when I tried to go into Cars 3: Driven to Win with an open mind, I wasn’t exactly surprised when I found an uneven, unpolished, mediocre game.
Which sounds harsh, but overall, Cars just felt un-fun to play for a myriad of reasons. And while I could forgive a lot of the shortcomings I’m about to get into if the core gameplay was fun, all of these issues affect the core gameplay way too much for me to overlook.
First is just the general game feel. For a racing game, there’s no sense of speed or gravity, it feels floaty even when your car is on the ground. You can perform tricks and showy driving, like 2-wheel driving, going backwards (which also reverses your steering, like real life) and even powerslides, and certain parts of the track will reward you with nitro/boost for using these options at the appropriate times.
But the game just feels so slow, overall, that these flashy ways of driving just end up feeling obtrusive to an already frustrating game. A lot of these ‘perform trick here’ areas are on the main track, which doesn’t sound like a bad thing at first. But this leads me into my second issue- there are just too many shortcuts.
Pretty much all the tracks I’ve played had shortcuts, or alternate paths, for almost the entire track. I’ve lost countless races because I missed a shortcut right at the end that the AI just doesn’t seem to miss at all. At times, it feels like the entire game could be played without having to go on the main track areas at all.
Speaking of losing races, this leads me to my last issue- the difficulty for a game like this is just way too high. Now I’m an experienced gamer, I’ve 3 starred all the cups in MK8D on 200cc. But on just the medium difficulty, I won one single race. Just one. I played quite a few modes, on quite a few tracks, and I only managed to squeak into 1st place once. I’m not against hard games, and games that challenge me and push me to do better. But this isn’t a game aimed at me, it’s aimed at children fans of Disney and Pixar. The difficulty bordered on that line of challenging to unfair, and for the intended audience, that’s not a good thing.
There is plenty to do, however. Pretty much everything you do in the game progresses you, with a big chart of, I guess, achievements to tick off, with each one moving a progress bar forward. That bar has new cars, er, characters to unlock, new tracks, and cups. I felt that after almost every race, something new was unlocked. It was just a shame that each race was really hard to work through, thankfully placing in first doesn’t affect it too much.
It’s also worth mentioning, there’s multiplayer up to 4 players for a variety of different races, and cups. It’s mostly the same as single player, but playing a single race without the AI characters around is one of the more relaxing moments in the game. The split screen doesn’t seem to add any frame rate or gameplay issues, and might be worth considering if you have a few kids who want to race at their own pace, with their favourite Cars characters.
If you can overlook all of these flaws, I’m sure you can find a good game underneath it all. There’s a variety of tracks, you’re always working to unlock something new, and it does have that Pixar charm in places.