North America


by Jonathan Metts - December 21, 2006, 5:54 pm PST
Total comments: 1


There are already plenty of racing games on Wii, but Cars stands out with its sandbox-type level design. Unfortunately, the steering is broken.

Cars is an unusual little game. For a licensed game based on a movie, it's very ambitious. As Lightning McQueen, the "fish out of water" race car stranded in the redneck town of Radiator Springs, you drive around an open world to look for hidden items and missions. Some of the missions are mini-games, but most are races on a mixture of pavement and off-road trails. It's worth noting that the game dumps you into Radiator Springs with no explanation of prior events, so the story definitely assumes you have seen the movie.

Within ten minutes of playing the game, you'll find one of its biggest problems. The off-road races which are so prevalent around Radiator Springs just don't work very well. For one thing, Lightning is a NASCAR-type racer and doesn't handle well on the dirt. More importantly, it's often difficult to tell where the track is, because it blends in with the rest of the landscape. You can try to keep an eye on the radar, which shows an outline of the course, but it's not always accurate for turns and bends in the path.

The other major problem in Cars is that the controls never feel right. They are so strange that I'm still not sure if I can fully diagnose the problem. I think it's a combination of a much too large dead zone, in which tilting the Wii Remote has no effect, and overly sensitive steering once you move past the dead zone. The result is that the cars (all of them, though you will usually be controlling Lightning) sometimes feel unresponsive and other times feel so sensitive that you can't even make them go straight. Powersliding around huge turns or tilting up on two wheels to fly around a sharp corner, both important mechanics in the races, are very difficult to perform consistently because of the wonky steering controls. Naturally, there are no options to adjust the controls.

Missing a turn or slamming into a wall is no big deal in the early parts of the game, because the opponent racers are so slow and stupid. That means the races are more boring than frustrating, especially since the laps tend to be ridiculously long, stretching total race times out to six minutes or more. That's six minutes racing against opponents who may never see you after the starting line…trying not to fall asleep is the only challenge here.

However, as you get to the second and third chapters (which are just new sets of missions), the computer AI starts to get very competitive and even difficult. This would be great news for the average gamer, except that the difficulty of seeing the off-road tracks and the loosey-goosey steering are still holding you back. That's when the game starts to get very hard and very frustrating, and this is coming from a guy who plays F-Zero.

When you've earned enough trophy points in other events, you get a chance to race in the Piston Cup events. These are straight-up, NASCAR-type races on paved loops with lots of other cars packed in tightly. Even though you are just making left-hand turns, the challenge of sneaking by other cars and not losing speed on the turns translates into a surprisingly tense experience. However, the races are still very long by video game standards, and by the third Piston Cup event, the computer AI and controls are again conspiring to make the game extremely difficult.

Cars features a truly huge game world with dozens of racing events and mini-games, so there is plenty to do. The presentation is also nice, with good-looking character models and lots of voice acting from the movie's stars, including Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, and yes, Larry the Cable Guy. There is plenty of bonus content, such as high-quality video clips from the movie. All of these things would make the game easy to recommend except that the racing gameplay at its core is simply too frustrating, the controls too inconsistent, and the races far too long. I found myself cursing at the game on multiple occasions – and this is supposed to be targeted at kids? I know they're not weaksauce gamers, but they're not exactly the patient type, either. Considering that the tilting control scheme is the only Wii-specific feature, you may find that the GameCube version (also playable on Wii!) is easier to handle. For now, Excite Truck is still by far the best racing game on Wii.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6 7 4 7 8 6

Last-gen graphics are colorful and generally nice, with very good car animations. The environments have some pop-up, and you'll see the same cars pass by over and over. The fact that you can't easily tell an off-road track from the rest of the dirt is a big culprit.


The game features real voice actors, and real licensed music (though the soundtrack is limited – you can only listen to "Free Ride" so many times). It's really weird to hear familiar characters call out to you even though they are camped out on the other side of town.


What's going on here? You can't have a racing game without good steering. At least give us the option to adjust the settings and make it right.


Cars has an ambitious design and increasingly challenging races, but the poor controls and a few other problems, such as the transition from boring, easy races to maddeningly difficult races, keep it from ever being as gloriously fun as it could be.


There are plenty of races and mini-games, most of which can be replayed at higher levels for greater rewards. The enormous overworld also has some cool areas to explore, and they usually offer bonus points or hidden postcards. There is also a two-player mode, which is bound to showcase the game's weakest points while leaving out the cool exploration and story elements.


Cars is a decent choice for bombastic fans of the movie, but you'll have to be very patient with the controls. If you're looking for a good Wii racing game and don’t care about the movie license, Excite Truck is a much better choice.


  • Fans of the movie will love the presentation
  • Huge world to explore
  • Tons of races and mini-games
  • Extremely long races test your endurance and patience
  • Hard to see off-road tracks
  • Steering controls stink and can't be adjusted
Review Page 2: Conclusion


NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterDecember 21, 2006

I played the PS2 version. I enjoyed it, I saw it as a sequel to the movie. It was great seeing the characters as well as some new ones (adding the missing stereotypes :p), although I agree that the game is far from perfect. I personally found the mini games fun, but lasted too long (the Sheriff one is the worst, though). Although I didn't have any problems with the controls on the PS2 version (except when driving backwards). In any case, I recommend a rent on the earlier versions if the Wii version truly is broken.

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Cars Box Art

Genre Racing
Developer Rainbow Studios
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: Cars
Release Nov 19, 2006
jpn: Cars
Release Mar 22, 2007
RatingAll Ages
eu: Cars
Release Dec 08, 2006
aus: Cars
Release Dec 14, 2006

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