Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hot Wheels: Beat That!

There's really not a lot to be said about Hot Wheels: Beat That! This was a game purchased for one of my kids, who likes playing with Hot Wheels cars, when my wife found it on sale at Toys 'R' Us.

It's a very simple game. Controls are a little loose, but it's not too difficult to stay on course, and in general, in cases when you are blown off course or into a hazard, you are returned to the track quickly. You pick up weapons by driving through rings, and fire them off with a touch of a button. The weapons are fairly simple and traditional, ranging from a missile to a mine to a smokescreen, with a few more interesting weapons, like a shocker, a parachute that slows your target down for a time, and an EMP that destroys the weapons your opponents may be carrying.

Game types include the traditional races to the more goal-oriented "destroy X opponents in Y seconds". Each race, in addition to giving you points (or "flames") for earning first, second, or third place, also gives you two secondary goals, like use a weapon so many times during the race or simply obtain and use a power weapon. The secondary goals also earn you an extra "flame", and the accumulated number of flames unlock more races and better cars from the garage.

Multiplayer is all local, and can be played as a race with (or without) AI, or in a combat mode, where you score points by hitting your opponent with a weapon. Unfortunately, the cars and arenas in multiplayer are unlocked by playing single player, which limits the fun friends and family can have just jumping in to play this game until a single person does the work to unlock everything. (I really hate this requirement.)

The environments vary from a bedroom to an attic to other around-the-house locations. Race tracks include standard Hot Wheels tracks (although wider to allow three or four cars to race side-by-side), household elements (like plastic cups, with the bottom removed, to act as a short tunnel), and the fantastic (puddles of radioactive goo). The raceways can get busy and hard to see at times, however there tend to be a decent supply of arrows guiding you along the correct path at any given time.

All in all, it's not a bad game. The game play is very simple, something that's almost better suited for an arcade game than a retail release. It is worthy of note that, of all the games the kids got for Christmas, this one seems to be spending the majority of the time in the Xbox. It's simple, arcade-style fun.

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