Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged Review
Renowned in the genre, Milestone has created some of the most realistic racers to date. That’s why it came as a shock when they drifted into the arcade format with 2021’s Hot Wheels Unleashed. Managing to capture the frantic action synonymous with the brand, the game was an instant hit with fans of the toy line. Returning to the franchise, the sequel, Turbocharged, aims to take the series into the next gear but will the new additions rev up the excitement or stall the momentum established by its predecessor?
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged builds on the solid foundation of the original. On the track, refinements have been made which make drifting a joy. As most courses are full of twists and turns, mastering the mechanic is essential for reaching first place. Successfully sliding around corners will build your boost meter which allows you to shoot to the front. As speed is at the forefront, you will need to combine mechanics in order to get the most out of them. Boosting straight from one drift to another feels great and helps to create an addictive experience even though it requires overcoming occasional rubberbanding challenges.
Jump and Bump
New mechanics give more options during races. You can now jump which allows you to hurdle obstacles and leap over gaps in the course. In addition to this, it also opens new ways to find shortcuts and shaves milliseconds off your best time. Another new feature is the ability to perform a short sharp bump to those next to you. Although this may sound like a small, it actually adds a whole new layer to the race. Throughout tracks, there are a number of barrierless points, here you can now send your opponent spiraling off course to clinch victory.
Motorcycles and ATVs skid onto Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged to offer a ton of variety with vehicles. Each differs in terms of handling and stats which adds importance to the machine you select. You can upgrade your favorites using the skill tree or use currency earned from races to purchase new cars. The ability to add perks to your machine means that you can adapt the properties to your play style, giving you more ways to personalize the experience.
Every vehicle looks incredible. The materials react perfectly to the lighting to make each one look like a toy. Due to this, nostalgia will wash over you as you race through environments with classic and modern products from Hot Wheels. The Livery Editor returns to allow you to customize your car further, You can re-color, add stickers or just download a community creation to make the perfect version of your favorite vehicle.
Milestone manages to capture an incredible level of scale due to the wonderfully designed environments. The intimate camera angle emphasizes the level of detail on the vehicles but also magnifies the environment. Each of the five new locations offers variety in terms of tracks and design. Impressively, Unleashed 2 introduces new surfaces that help to communicate the notion of racing with toys. You can now veer off onto grass, sand and more which gives course their own identity. The number of locales is disappointing. Although tracks take place in different areas of the environment and the track editor will offer thousands of courses, the game requires more variety with backdrops.
The campaign has had a complete overhaul with voice-acting and a thin narrative that sees you venture across the world to compete against five bosses. Although you may lose interest in the story pretty quickly, it’s a fun way to tie races together and show off the numerous race types. Throughout, you’ll earn a ton of rewards that allow you to unlock cars which results in an addictive cycle.
Other new modes are a welcome addition and expand the overall experience. A favorite of mine is the Elimination. Available offline, online and split screen, you race around a course while a timer counts down. When that hits zero, the person in last place is eliminated. This makes each lap a thrill as you battle against your rivals to stay in the race. Waypoint is refreshing as it lets you loose in the environment and you race around the confines to key locations. The multiplayer aspect has had a healthy dose of content with a new Crash Derby, where you smash into others for points, Grab the Gears which is pretty much what the title suggests and Drift Master which puts your skills to the test. All of this enhances the longevity of the game and will make the online component more appealing than its predecessors.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged improves on its predecessor with refinements on the track and new modes. The multiplayer portion has had an overhaul with new modes that take advantage of new mechanics to offer more variety. However, the small number of environments is still an issue and makes the different tracks feel too familiar. Milestone sticks to what worked which results in a very similar experience. While it does improve on the original, it doesn’t add enough to make its way up the podium.
***A PlayStation 5 key was provided by the publisher***
- Stunning Visuals
- The New Modes Are Great
- Fast-Paced Action
- Very Similar to its Predecessor
- Not Enough Environments
- A lot of Rubberbanding