Review: Hot Wheels: World’s Best Driver (PS3)

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Title: Hot Wheels: World’s Best Driver
Format: Blu-ray / PlayStation Network Download (3.3 GB)
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Firebrand Games
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: E
Hot Wheels: World’s Best Driver is also available on Xbox 360, Wii U, PC and Nintendo 3DS.
The PlayStation 3 version was used for this review.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 339 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
Hot Wheels: World’s Best Driver is essentially a series of mini-games wrapped in a somewhat frustrating control scheme. You choose your team at the start, RED, YELLOW, GREEN or BLUE and then compete in a series of events.

The events are broken down into six stages with three events in each. You can earn up to three medals per event and you’ll need a certain number of medals across each stage to unlock the next stage. Unfortunately, the events themselves range from somewhat fun to frustrating.

The events are different depending on the team:

  • GREEN (Super Fast) – You’ll be participating in a lot of timed events
  • BLUE (High-Tech) – Blue is given a series of precision events
  • YELLOW (Powerful) – Crushing cars with a monster truck, pushing stuff off the side of an Aircraft Carrier, driving up the side of an ice covered mountain and such
  • RED (Outrageous) – Stunts and jumps abound

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Although the controls can be pretty bad at times, at least there’s some good variety in the events. RED tends to be the most fun since you’ll essentially be doing a ton of snowboarding/skateboarding type tricks with half-pipes, ramps and obstacle courses but in a car or on a motorcycle. GREEN’s timed events are a close second as you’ll be racing a jet, attempting to reach the highest speed possible in a dry lake bed type of environment while passing through speed boost pads and so on.

BLUE and YELLOW is where the frustration tends to crop up. Don’t get me wrong, both have events that can be fun. With BLUE, you’ll be driving straight up the side of a wall and drifting across to a ramp to come down or racing down a mountain drifting around the tight turns… lots of drift events. While these could and should be fun, the controls are a little too loose. Even when you start to get a feel for the quirkiness of the physics, it’s way too easy to mess things up. It gets worse in the motorcycle events. Many of them require serious precision as you move along narrow paths and it just doesn’t work that well.

With YELLOW, there’s less variety in the events and they’re just not nearly as fun. You can only crush so many cars with a Monster Truck before it starts to get boring.

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Visuals:
Well… the best way to describe it would be a PS2 game converted to HD and then given decent lighting every now and then. It’s an oddly mixed bag, with some cars having suspiciously low poly counts and others being somewhat detailed.

While the iconic orange Hot Wheels tracks do make appearances throughout the game, they’re more “inspired by” than oversized replicas but I’m okay with that. In the context of these events, it all makes sense but sadly it’s the only real connection the the Hot Wheels license (save for a few paint jobs) and it’s a tenuous one at best.

By playing through the events, you’ll unlock new areas and structures in the main hub area, including a huge double loop made with the orange track, still not quite accurate, but it’s there nonetheless and it’s a fun bit of nostalgia for someone who grew up with Hot Wheels cars.

Audio:
The audio in general Is one of the weakest parts of the game, with the voice work being especially problematic. There are a lot of different people in the game giving mostly flat, uninspired delivery of their lines.

Things pick up a bit with your Crew Chiefs, yammering in your ear during each of the events, but even this small step forward is negated with commentary that can’t keep up with what’s going on in the game. If you make a tiny mistake, they’ll begin to admonish you then get cut off as a new line of praise gets thrown in. It goes back and forth like this throughout entire events and it just sounds terrible. There’s also plenty of repetition. The music is pretty forgettable as well but at least it doesn’t get on your nerves.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

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Conclusion:
So many missed opportunities here. Hot Wheels as a brand is an iconic part of our youth and there’s so much potential for fun in video game form but nobody seems to be able to capture it, and it’s certainly not here. Having the Hot Wheels license attached adds nothing to this game and it could have easily been made without it and that’s the unfortunate reality here.

Where’s my Hot Wheels simulation? All I want is a game where I can set up a massive orange track in a virtual living room and then drive it. A little thin for a game, yeah, but it’s a start. Give me a PSN title where I can relive that feeling of designing and setting up a track (with no constraints on how much actual track I own now that it’s a game) and just let me play. Just slapping the Hot Wheels logo on a generic car game doesn’t do it.

The biggest problem lies in where they feel their main audience lies. Designing games to appeal to kids currently playing with Hot Wheels or designing games to appeal to the 30 and 40-somethings who grew up with them. Because of the sloppy controls in Hot Wheels: World’s Best Driver, it likely won’t appeal to kids. At the same time it’s just too generic to appeal to adults either.

Score:
4.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro screen capture feature.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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  • It’s sad how they can screw up a Hot Wheels game. Could of been awesome.

    • It is, isn’t it? They really need someone in their late 30’s or early 40’s who has a real passion for Hot Wheels and the right amount of nostalgia to oversee a Hot Wheels game. I have no doubt that a downloadable title could be done that would be all kinds of awesome.

      • Yep. It doesn’t seem like a hard game to conceptualize. Just need the Hot Wheel cars, the loop track and races. Throw in some online battles on the huge orange looping tracks and you probably got a winner.

  • MJC

    I saw the Giantbomb Quick Look for this and it didn’t look very good. And like Stoffinator said, it’s sad how they can screw up a Hot Wheels game.