Developer: Firebrand Games
Release Date: Out Now
Hot Wheels Track Attack uses the famous toy car licence to bring us another, much needed racer to the Wii but is it a hot rod or a rusty old banger?
The game gives you series of races and checkpoint runs with which you earn new cars (there are 32 different ones to unlock), unlock new tracks in 4 different environments (beach, rainforest, desert & city) and earn tokens to upgrade your car’s handling, acceleration, top speed etc. You can also customize any of the cars, painting them all the colours of the rainbow and adding “go faster stripes.” It’s a familiar format all set in a unique Hot Wheels setting with banked tracks, big jumps, lots of loops and raised track edges to stop you from wandering too far off line.
The tracks are dotted with turbo speed boost pads (and slow down ones as well), and there are also pickups to look out for along the way. The car’s handling changes perceivably as you upgrade them and you can tap the brake to do some pleasing powerslides to bring those lap times down.
The racing is simple but addictive, controls are pretty standard Wii-type and a steering wheel add-on is recommended but not vital as you steer the cars by tilting the Wiimote; held horizontally being straight ahead. Gas is mapped to the ‘2’ button, brake to ‘1’ and boost to ‘B’. You can also disable tilt and steer with the D-pad if you prefer, or even switch the camera to first person to get ‘up close and personal’ with your racer. The locations have a giant villain to avoid (giant spider, robot, dinosaur and a shark – no, really!) Most of the tracks have shortcuts on and mastering these will make winning even the trickiest of them achievable.
There’s a track builder feature that’s surprisingly easy to use and allows you to build some suitably insane tracks themed on the locations from the main game with ramps, speed boosts, loops, corkscrews and mile-long straights, then save them. They can be edited and ‘fine tuned’ later too. There’s a 2-4 player split screen, and while this isn’t going to worry Mario Kart it played a good solid game and the action is, as always, a lot better when racing family or friends.
Hot Wheels Track Attack is a budget title and comes with budget graphics, but they do the job, there’s a good sensation of speed and apart from the odd graphical glitch it looks okay and the frame rate stays smooth too. Most importantly, and unlike some arcade racers of late, the game is fun (briefly at least) and with 4 environments, 51 races and challenges to complete it’ll last longer than the average Hot Wheels set. The real problem is that it's just too straight a racer; I'd have liked to see cars dwarfed by their surroundings in the same style as the Micro Machines games, with tracks winding around gardens, under the dining room table and in and out of kitchens and bedrooms, like the real thing. Instead we get a typical selection of tracks with a few monsters the only thing that makes the cars feel small. This means that apart from what are presumably genuine Hot Wheels models included in the game, Hot Wheels Track Attack could be called just about anything really, it's that generic a racer, and sadly this means that although it's extremely playable it's also instantly forgettable.