Hot Wheels Unleashed Preview – Adrenaline-fueled test drive!

Posted on July 5, 2021

Hot Wheels Unleashed has been looking pretty amazing as of late. Sure, you could run some Hot Wheels tracks in Forza Horizon, but there has not been a proper Hot Wheels game since 2013’s Hot Wheels: World’s Best Driver. To be honest, I don’t it was missed all that much as a series, although when the trailers started to drop… I couldn’t contain my excitement.

Footage released so far feature high-definition backgrounds and loads of classic Hot Wheels cars coupled with high-speed action. What more could you want? Ahead of the game’s 30 September release, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a preview copy featuring nine of the proposed 40+ tracks and test drive 28 of the 60 or so cars destined to end up in the game. So I took it out for some laps.

The first thing to note is that this is a very pretty looking game. The trailers did not lie and it plays just like it looks. The environments on offer for my sneak peek were the Garage, Skyscraper, Skate Park and College Campus. All of these showcase incredibly detailed backgrounds and the track design suits the world as you wiz from the track into the environment and back again.

Hot Wheels Unleashed features a mix of lap tracks and point to point races. It’s hard to decide which I prefer to be honest. The lap tracks give you the opportunity to get better lap on lap, but the point to point courses are a wild ride the whole way through.

Cars range from Muscle to Sports Cars, Formula One type vehicles and themed special cars. They all drive differently with unique boost options and stats. The toy theme is intact and they are nicely proportioned to the world around them.

This is definitely an arcade racer, none of this one foot in the simulation camp that too many games in this genre try to achieve. This means strategic use of boost (don’t worry, there is plenty available) out of corners and on straights is essential to success. You cannot beat the AI racers without it. Controlling your car through drifting corners and hitting your jumps just right are also the keys to victory.

In Hot Wheels Unleashed, the tracks are as exciting as you would expect featuring loads of loops, jumps, twists and turns. On some tracks, gravity will hold you onto the roof of the environment as the world turns upside down.

The ONLY thing I fear about this game is it could get a little old a little too fast. I am not convinced that the content on offer will be enough to keep me going back for more. The environments behind the tracks look amazing but just track after track of loops, not so sure.

A couple of the tracks on offer had some well placed environmental hazards suiting the environments such as a toy dinosaur opening and closing his mouth (so you have to time your way through) and a couple of tracks had some spiders shooting webs that will stop you in your tracks if you don’t dodge. Another had some fans that would push your car across the track. This kind of unique content was good to see, but there needs to be more.

Hot Wheels Unleashed plays like a kart racer, a party game. It does not feature weapons and I do believe that was the right choice. Too many party racers rely on combat mechanics to spice up the action, so kudos to the Hot Wheels Unleashed team for not taking the obvious route. Although with that said, it does need a little more than just the amusement park ride design of the tracks. It is a great looking game, it plays well enough, but I just hope they double down on the environments and make that a bigger part of the game. Add in some well-placed hazards, otherwise the admittedly gorgeous backgrounds become nothing more than set dressing for a very generic track.