I’ll get this out of the way first. The gameplay is great. It’s a basic arcade racer with some wackier elements thrown in such as boost, speed pads, varying obstacles, and magnetized roads that allow you to defy gravity. Drifting can take some getting used to, as cars have a somewhat heavy feel to them, but upon mastering it, it can feel incredibly satisfying to pull off. You can also flip/roll your car in the air, allowing not only for recovery, but also some advanced techniques. The tracks are also very open to shortcuts, and it’s worth figuring out optimal paths to really get an edge on the competition. The experience with racing games from Milestone really shows here.
Now, let’s talk about the most important part of a Hot Wheels game; the car selection. This game offers the widest selection of Hot Wheels of any game to date, with 68 total cars to be unlocked in the game. Milestone managed to give each and EVERY car in this game a unique feel and touch. The physics engine of the game makes each car’s model react uniquely to each environment, making their different weights, heights, and shapes add unique flavors to how each car feels to steer, spin and twirl in the air. This being said, the stats on each car end up feeling a little misleading to me. You can kinda guess how a car’s going to feel just based on looking at it, if you’re familiar with cars at all, but the stats on two cars can be the exact same and still end up feeling completely different. It’s a little frustrating when you want to know how a car’s going to feel before you drive it and the stats don’t paint a clear, or even sometimes accurate, picture of it. The only other criticism I’d give is TO the livery editor; In order to use your own liveries, you have to first share them with every player in the game, and then go and download them. Deleting them from your shared list deletes them from your local files, as well, so they can only be used if you’ve shared them. Why is it this way? I can’t tell you that, because I’ve never seen any other game do it this way.
The game’s content is endless with a surprisingly beefy campaign mode filled with events and boss races as well as a track editor, giving you plenty to do and plenty of tracks to race on. Cars are unlocked via mystery boxes which can be unlocked as prizes in the campaign or with coins earned in the campaign. Even though there are loot boxes, there’s no micro-transactions or pay-to-win tactics, they can only be bought using in-game currency meaning you have to grind the game to unlock the extra content.
In the graphics department this game just looks plain gorgeous. You can clearly see the different materials cars are made out of, and despite there currently only being six environments (one being exclusive to Track Editor), I never really got tired of seeing them due to how humongous and varied they are. Track pieces have a beautiful sheen to them and it’s awesome seeing your diecast car slowly get scratched up over the course of a race. Simply put, it’s a feast for the eyes.
Overall, lets face it, HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED™ is one of the best arcade racers I’ve ever played. It’s extremely satisfying to drive, win races, and play the game in general. What the game lacks in total content, it makes up for in fun, and the potential for future content. I would argue the high price is justified as far as that goes. However, I could see why the high price might be a turn off for many people. While I do believe that, by the end of my time playing this game, I will have gotten my money’s worth out of playing it, I understand how many people may not feel the same way, and that’s okay. But I think it’s worth it.