Hot Wheels Unleashed Review
No toy brand captures imagination quite like Hot Wheels. Without some creativity, these little toy cars are really just objects that look kinda cool. What makes the brand what it is today is the love fans have for what these become in the right hands. With a great track in your home or basement, these tiny toy cars can become speedy and wildly fun to enjoy. If you’re older, then you might not even break these out of the packaging anymore. Still, toys truly are meant to be played with, and that’s on full display in Hot Wheels Unleashed. An arcade racing game with dozens of real cars you can buy from Mattel sound like a great game for kids, collectors, and racing fans alike. Let’s dive into our review of Hot Wheels Unleashed to find out if this game captures the magic the toy continues to evoke since 1968.
On Track to Be a Hit with Fans
Image Credit: Milestone & Mattel
I think for the most part Hot Wheels Unleashed feels exactly like what you’d expect. In short, the driving isn’t perfect, but it’s exactly what you’d want from a Hot Wheels experience. I think with other arcade racers, including Cruis’n Blast, it’s easy to forgo perfect controls in favor of fun factor. Hot Wheels Unleashed certainly offers fun environments and imaginative ways to engage with these iconic toys.
Unfortunately, something I don’t think I can look past is the presence of blind boxes that reveal your new cars. You can purchase more boxes for more cars, or work your way through the game to unlock things. It rubs me the wrong way considering the focus this brand of toy has on younger audiences. Children who play games aren’t unaware of microtransactions, but it seems problematic that they’re immediately an option for players. That aside, let’s focus on the game itself. I just felt like it needed to be mentioned if you planned on picking this up for your kid.
The controls in the game aren’t my favorite of arcade racers released recently. Luckily, the atmosphere of the Hot Wheels tracks you can play on really carry this experience. I think it’s tough to find your way around total control of the car until you play for a few hours. There also doesn’t feel to be a major benefit to mastering your control over the cars. If you do, then you’re still victim to the quality of your car’s specs like speed, braking power, and the like. All of this said, let’s talk scores.
Hot Wheels Unleashed Review Score
Image Credit: Milestone & Mattel
I review games on a scale of 1-10; Hot Wheels Unleashed is a 6 for me. I don’t see myself spending much more time with this one. I like the ability to create tracks and customize your own basement, which serves as a gaming lair. Overall, the elements that evoke emotions connected to playing with the actual cars growing up are well done. Unfortunately, I just don’t find the racing experience to be all that great. You do get access to over 66 cars at launch, some of which are really great thanks to licensing agreements. Partnerships with Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more really add a nice touch.
For me, it comes down to whether or not this is going to bring me an experience I can’t find elsewhere. Sure, this is the Hot Wheels name we know and love. I’d just personally rather play Mario Kart and collect Hot Wheels. For super-fans of the iconic toy brand, the game will be a fun way to spread that fandom to video games. If you’re just “whatever” about the toys, then I’d go ahead and play another racer.
Hot Wheel Unleashed is available September 30 for PS4 & PS5, Xbox Series X|S & Xbox One, Switch, and PC. If you play the game, then come back here and drop a 3-sentence review in the comments! Thanks for reading Comic Years for all things gaming, comics, and pop culture.
A digital review copy was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.
Featured Image Credit: Milestone & Mattel
Taylor is the Gaming Editor of Comic Years and a lifelong fan of video games. He holds two degrees in Political Communication and wrote a Master's Thesis on resistance movements, race, and the exploitation of college athletes. His wife and two Toy Australian Sheppards keep him sane.