Hot Wheels: World’s Best Driver for the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U and PC is ostensibly targeted towards young boys who are love the idea of an arcade racer based on the beloved toy franchise. Unfortunately, it fails at almost every level from controls to presentation.
Being a game geared towards kids, cheesy dialog from announcers is kind of given. Cheesy lines combined with dull delivery from an assortment of odd accents were not expected though. What’s worse, the game puts up a giant roadblock of disinterest at the start of with excessively long and dry tutorials at the start of each new event. Sometimes, twice in a row. It’s like someone said, “This game may have too much adrenaline which will send them in wild fits of boy hyperactivity. So, we need to add in an extra dose of valium by showing static images with dreadfully boring explanations of how to play the game.”
Before a player selects an event, they are tasked with selecting one of four teams – Red, Blue, Green and Yellow – that have their own special styles. For example, Team Red is “Outrageous” while Team Green is “Fast,” Team Blue is “High Tech” and Team Yellow is “Powerful.” The player then selects a vehicle which then loads the most inexplicably pointless open world menu selection in the history of gaming.
Hot Wheels’ world hub consists of a semi-large square fenced in piece of relatively flat land with a small cluster of six buildings in the middle. Only four of those building result in any kind of selection action and only two of those selections will players give a flip about as they either take you to event selection or team selection.
It’s as if the developer had an idea of an open-world area where players could tool around in their selected cars and try different tricks or maybe even build a track themselves (which would have been a cool feature). Instead, there’s nothing to do…at all…except drive from one building to another to make a selection. It’s inexcusable that this wasn’t handled with a traditional screen menu when there’s nothing to do in the world hub.
Well, the gameplay has to be at least redeemable, right? Not really. The events are essentially an assorted collection of mini-games geared towards the particular theme for each team. Team Green is all about getting the top speed, Team Red is for doing jumps and stunts, Team Blue is drifting and Team Yellow is for climbing hills and pushing stuff. Seriously, one of the first events for Yellow is to push boxes, forklifts, barrels and plane parts out of the storage hanger of an aircraft carrier and into the ocean. Because, that’s exactly the kind of activity that everyone thinks of when they think of Hot Wheels.
It’s hard to find much enjoyment in the events themselves as they are either so simplistic that all that is needed is to hold the right trigger down and go straight or the controls are so loose and physics so wonky that the gameplay is rendered frustrating. This is made painfully clear on one of the first Red events where a motorcycle is driven across a thin stunt track course. There is a ramp that the player must jump at the right time to avoid a rotating arm. However, the ramp launches the player with the same force no matter how fast or slow the player is going. The loose controls make the bike hard to control in the air and results in the rider and the bike flying off the edge of the bike more often than not.
Well, you can at least race with someone online or on the couch, right? That would be a big "No." The game has online leaderboards and that's about it. It is mind-boggling that Hot Wheels: World's Best Driver doesn't even support local co-op split screen races. The best it can manage is a mode where up to four players can take turns with an event. Young boys are excellent at taking turns and don't want to race with one another, apparently.
Frustrating controls and oddball physics combined with a dull, pointless presentation and no competitive multiplayer quickly tested this adult’s patience. When put in the hands of a young boy, it was instant frustration.
If little Johnny comes to you and says he would really like Hot Wheels: World’s Best Driver for his birthday or Christmas, just pat him on the head and go pick up a copy of Mario Kart or Sonic All-Stars Racing instead. Warner Bros. Firebrand Games and Mattel had the chance to produce something that could help reinvigorate the Hot Wheels brand with something along the lines of a cart racer and track builder with the countless cars produced over the years and the signature orange track. Instead, this is a knock on the brand.
Title: Hot Wheels: World’s Best Driver
Platform(s): Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC
Developer: Firebrand Games
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Price: $39.99 (consoles) / $29.99 (PC)
Release Date: Sept. 17, 2013
A review copy for the Xbox 360 was provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the purposes of this review.