On the first day of Christmas, THQ sent to me... the worst game I've ever played. On the second day of Christmas, they also sent me a Hot Wheels tie-in. I must admit that I didn't go into Track Attack with the highest of expectations- but despite a few flaws, I was actually surprised by how much fun it turned out to be.
As you'd expect, Hot Wheels: Track Attack is all about ragging cool Hot Wheels cars around insane tracks; pulling off stunts, ramming opponents and hopefully having a great time in the process. I was delighted to discover that it actually delivers on this promise by providing a huge number of events (spanning a number of game modes) and simple, streamlined racing. A Wii Wheel is encouraged- but even without, tilt control is intuitive and extremely effective. A few powerups allow you to boost past or jump over the competition, and the insane track geometry encourages some adrenaline-pumping dangerous moments. It's an arcade racer, pure and simple.
There's no denying that the action will feel simple and shallow after a few hours- but for a budget title, Hot Wheels performs adequately well. The solo campaign is fairly hefty and up to four players can get together for split screen shenanigans.
No Hot Wheels game would be complete without a massive roster of zany vehicles. Muscle cars, speedy racers and the ever-popular joke vehicles (Shark-ruiser, anyone?) bulk out an enormous range of unlockable rides that can be individually painted. They can also be customised in a number of basic ways by hunting out hidden tokens within each stage. Anyone who's ever collected Hot Wheels will know how devastatingly addictive this turns out to be.
Track Attack's crown jewel is the Track Editor, which succeeds at being dead simple to use yet extremely powerful in application. You'll start by doodling out the shape of the track with your Wiimote cursor, which will spring magically into existence and allow you add components at your own discretion. Fancy a double loop the loop? A turbo boost? An insane spinning deathtrap? Just choose the bit you want and then at where you want it. Job done. Sure, it doesn't provide players with the scale and scope of ModNation racers- but it does allow for excellent tracks to be created in a matter of seconds. The ability to instantly test or even race on the work-in-progress is also deeply impressive.
Unfortunately, this powerful modular level creator comes with a fairly steep price. Track Attack is deeply unstable and frequently flings drivers off of the track into the background. Without a dedicated reset button or invisible walls, players will frequently enjoy a relaxing drive straight through seemingly-solid backgrounds and scenery objects until the game finally takes pity on them. Track Attack is also fairly ugly- doing its job in a purely functional manner without really offering much in the way of flair and panache. Sound design is similarly unambitious; exhibiting a range of tinny sounds and- as always- an obnoxious narrator who does his best to be as annoying and intrusive as possible.
- Fun core gameplay with responsive tilt control
- Collecting and modifying Hot Wheels cars is as addictive as ever
- Excellent track editor can create great levels in minutes
- Plenty of clipping problems
- Ultimately shallow
- Frequently ugly visuals and weak sound design
The Short Version: Despite being incredibly simple and possessing an array of technical quirks, Hot Wheels: Track Attack is good clean fun. Tight controls, the abundance of cool cars and the powerful track creator elevates it above most toy tie-ins... and the budget RRP makes it an attractive stocking filler that will see plenty of Boxing Day action.