Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged review: die-cast fun

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged

MSRP $50.00

“Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged improves on the original formula in every way.”

Excess

  • New abilities improve racing

  • Exciting Waypoint Mode

  • Lots of satisfying progress

  • Great editing tool

Counter

  • The Story of a Terrifying Creature’s Rampage

  • Hot Wheels spins are uncomfortable

As I raced through the museum’s dinosaur exhibit as a Hot Wheels monster truck, I realized that the racing game was made for five-year-old me. As a kid, I had a ton of Hot Wheels; looking back, it was my dad’s way of trying to share his love of cars with me. I played Milestone’s 2021 hit song Hot Wheels Unleashed and I think it brings back some of that childhood nostalgia. That feeling didn’t hit me with full force until I played this improved sequel, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 not the most complex or challenging racer. It has a nonsensical story mode and some gambling-like presentation when unlocking cars which I don’t like in a game made for kids. However, a few important additions would go a long way in making a racing game that’s faster and more fun for kids (and kids at heart).

Smooth racing

Hot Wheels Milestone racing game is a fairly simple arcade racing game where the main goal is to boost, drift and outscore opponents to get first place. This is recontextualized in a variety of modes, from the standard three-lap race to an Elimination mode that drops players in the last two places within a certain time interval. Upgrade and log in Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 is the key to success and is just as exhilarating as its predecessor.

A motorbike makes a big jump in Hot Wheels Unleashed 2.
Milestones

It will be difficult to go back to the beginning Hot Wheels Unleashed after playing this follow-up. The sequel improves on the arcade-like boost-based racing by giving players more ways to use those boost meters. I can now spend a small amount of it to jump or quickly do a sideways flip of my car. While the jumps got me over huge gaps, and the side dashes let me run some other racers off the track, they also add more utility to the game.

It was easier to correct course and get back on track without completely repositioning my car now, as the vehicle was still quite weak and could be thrown off the track. I can now jump over the edge of the track or use lateral dashes to adjust my position in the air. I always need a boost meter to do these moves, so this encourages me to drift more and care more about what type of Hot Wheels boost meter I have and how much boost energy I have left.

This sequel doesn’t just bring back nostalgia again…

Boost-based racers will be much more entertaining for kids than similar simulators Forza Motorsports, but even I feel the intrinsic, childlike joy that “speeding cars” can evoke. Luckily, Milestone has also created a comprehensive sandbox to enjoy this great race. More outdoor maps have been added, and more races or racing sections take place off-road. The locations are cleverly chosen to capitalize on childish themes, such as the backyard or the aforementioned dinosaur museum, reinforcing the magic of racing through large venues as little playthings.

Meanwhile, the new Waypoint mode also lets me race from point to point completely off-road on this map. If I had played this game at five years old, this would have been my favorite mode because I didn’t care about the timer and explored without distraction thanks to the new movement mechanics. It looks great too, capturing the plastic look of the tracks and cars and juxtaposing it with a more realistic environment. This sequel doesn’t just bring back nostalgia; it offers new places to explore and ways to move around them.

Lots of progress

The track and car editors also return, providing comprehensive tools that allow players to build and customize their own Hot Wheels experience. I doubt most kids will have the time or patience to create a decent track of their own, but the ability to browse and play with community-made cars and courses will provide almost endless content to enjoy. Even if one chooses not to engage with the online features, the single player experience Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 provided comprehensively.

I’m grateful, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 only features paid DLC and has no currency microtransactions…

It’s possible to access the Quick Play, Time Attack, Drift Master, Elimination, and Waypoint race modes individually, but all of these race types are used throughout the Hot Wheels Creature Rampage campaign mode. Developer Milestone tells the story of Hot Wheels racers who team up with scientists and robots to take down runaway monsters. This is not for adults. Most of the comic book cutscenes are painfully scripted; characters would change their characterization from line to line, and each scenario always ended with everyone laughing.

Luckily, I was able to ignore these kid-oriented cutscenes and enjoy Creature Rampage as a series of challenges with main objectives and bonuses. Completing these and various smaller Unleashed Missions earned me rewards like customization items, experience, skill points, Hot Wheels Spin tokens, and currency. Skill points allow me to perfect certain abilities, such as becoming immune to certain track obstacles; the game is satisfying, I get rewarded for using my favorite Hot Wheels.

Players drive towards an octopus boss in Hot Wheels Unleashed 2.
Milestones

Meanwhile, the currency is used to purchase new Hot Wheels, which now include motorcycles, ATVs, and monster trucks. I don’t like Hot Wheels Spin, because I don’t like the prizes being distributed through slot machine-like mechanics in games aimed at children. I’m grateful, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 only features paid DLC and had no currency microtransactions at release, unlike this year Lego 2K Ride.

Even after pulling back all those layers of development, there’s still a racing game experience that feels fundamentally fun, realizing what I imagined my Hot Wheels doing when I played with them as a kid. While all those Hot Wheels were given away or stored in a tote box somewhere in my parents’ attic right now, while playing Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged makes me feel like I’m playing with them again.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged has been tested on PS5.

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