Following our first contact, we got to try an updated version of Hot Wheels Unleashed. The Milestone developers have been working well in the last few weeks and the technical improvements brought to the game are truly remarkable compared to the bare pre-alpha version seen previously. Unfortunately, we have not yet had the opportunity to experience a more complete version of the game with all the modes present. In this new hands-on we will focus on the new features brought to the gameplay and the general feeling offered by the numerous machines in the video game, as well as exploring the variety of the original tracks created specifically for this demo.
So let’s take a further close look at Hot Wheels Unleashed in our preview, waiting to get our hands on a definitive version soon in the review.
Although during our test we could only touch the mode Fast Race, the developers have provided us with additional information about the other game modes that will be present in the final version of the title. Starting with Hot Wheels City Rumble, a career mode in which the player will have to win numerous races, challenge bosses and participate in other types of original races to expand their collection of cars and track pieces. The latter can be used within the “Track Builder” mode in which we will be able to create our tracks and then share them with the online community. The cars will also be fully customizable with the addition of stickers and other decorative elements in the “Livery Editor” section.
Each machine can then be enhanced with the use of the digital currency present in the game (the developers have already guaranteed that there will be no microtransactions). The coin will be accumulated simply by dismantling the cars that we will no longer use, and then making the most popular ones go up in category. There is no shortage of multiplayer mode, both locally with the split screen, and online with up to 12 players connected at the same time. Finally, among the available modes there is also the “Time Attack”, a sort of time trial available next to the Quick Race directly in the main title menu.
Each of the available modes can be tackled with three difficulty levels. The “Easy” mode is suitable for novice players, the “Medium” mode is very well balanced, while the “Hard” is very difficult even for the most experienced players. The developers have warned us that the difficulty of artificial intelligence still needs to be balanced properly, so we don’t want to delve too deeply into this aspect of the game.
Moving on to the actual gameplay we found a great feeling pad in the hand. Each of the 28 vehicles tested (in the final version there will be more than 60 different cars) has a guidance system different, based on the characteristics of the car: speed, braking power, acceleration and handling. The management of the turbo also differs according to the type of vehicle used with heavy vehicles that have a greater number of charges available in order to keep up with the others.
The physics featured in this Hot Wheels Unleashed is done pretty well. The speed and the relative friction of our car can be perceived both in the middle of the curve and in the straights. Drifting around corners our turbo charges fill up faster, allowing us to get out at full throttle. The drift is not so easy to manage in the first approach with the game, but after a few hours of gameplay it becomes quite pleasant to use to maximize our performance on the track.
The choice of our Hot Wheels machine also depends on the track on which we are going to race. There are indeed piste more techniques where greater handling is needed, others where top speed is absolutely essential. In total we will find more than 40 tracks in the final version of the title, arranged in the six settings created specifically by Milestone. In addition to these, there will then be all the tracks that we are going to create, or those created by the community and shared online.
Spending several hours in the company of Hot Wheels Unleashed, we were able to appreciate a very intuitive arcade driving system and above all responsive to our every input. Unfortunately, however, the races, although quite frenetic and fought, soon gave us a sense of repetitiveness, perhaps due to a lack of other elements in the gameplay. During the race, besides having to overtake our opponents and stay on the track, there is very little else to do. The original elements of interaction (such as cobwebs that slow down the cars or pieces of the track in motion) are very few and often fade into the background. It therefore appears clear the intention of the developers to want to bring a title mainly focused on collecting Hot Wheels cars together with a very genuine and fun driving experience.
After seeing the announcement trailer, we expected a noteworthy technical sector, even in a seemingly light title like this Hot Wheels Unleashed. The pre-alpha version we tested a few weeks ago made us turn up our noses a bit in this respect, but luckily we were able to change our minds with this new video game demo.
The technical sector has improved considerably, with the introduction of dynamic reflections via Ray Tracing, which especially on metallic models of cars, is a great sight. Even the settings present (Garage, College Campus, Skatepark and Skyscraper) seem to have been perfected with the addition of new elements and visual effects for a better overall graphic rendering.
The fluidity it remains absolutely perfect, with the frames per second stable and sufficiently high for an eventful title like this. We trust that the developers can further refine the technical sector by adding other effects and textures in high resolution, giving us an experience as realistic as possible (at least as regards the settings, machines and pieces of the track). The camera also needs some minor correction and balancing, especially when we go driving upside down on the reckless tracks featured in Hot Wheels Unleashed.
The next Milestone game looks very promising. Fans of the genre will find plenty of content on which to devote hours of entertainment. The technical sector has undergone a significant improvement compared to a few weeks ago, while the gameplay remains really fun and immediate. We still need some balance on the difficulty levels and we still lack certainties about the diversity of the contents present in the final version of the title, which could be fundamental to enhance races without other additional elements. The overall feeling offered is however absolutely positive, especially for arcade racing lovers where the focus is on the maximum speed of travel of the intricate tracks present. The excitement at high speed is perceptible with a good sense of competition, especially at higher difficulties, where one mistake can compromise the entire race. We therefore can’t wait to deepen this Hot Wheels Unleashed to relive what as children we could only imagine handling with these hilarious cars.