Friday, 1 July 2011

Cars 2: The App Review - A High Speed, High Octane Blast

Cars 2, Pixar's latest feature film, has been received to very mixed reviews from critics, however, it's holding it's own on the Box Office front. Cars merchandise has always sold like wildfire, as such games dedicated to it are inevitable, however, film tie-in games are notoriously shoddy and poor quality. However, Cars 2 - The App, released by Disney Mobile, is a surprisingly good and fun game.

The game is very fun to play, iOS games and apps are never going to have the same full-length appeal of console games, so they need to be addictive, reasonably challenging and be based on a good gameplay mechanic; Cars 2 - The App checks all of these boxes.  It has a relatively simple gameplay technique, you race across the multi-platform map, avoiding obstacles and collecting coins to achieve a high score.

This game is based on a long line of similarly themed and super successful games like Canabalt and Monster Dash, it's gameplay is simple, but fun and addictive. The levels, at first playthrough anyway, are surprisingly challenging, the first map I tackled, I thought I'd done well and, yet, I was awarded only 1 star, perhaps this is purposefully challenging, to lay down the gauntlet and keep you coming back. It succeeds enormously in that respect, if you're anything like me, you'll come back time and time again to try and top your own high score; it's fantastically addictive.

In terms of the social aspects of the app, it is somewhat integrated with Game Center, you'll receive an achievement for completing each level pack, however that's just 3. Furthermore, although you'll be addicted to come back and try and top your scores, the game could benefit greatly, in terms of adding more lasting appeal, by adding global or local leaderboards, being able to compare scores with your friends is always a nice touch. However, it could always be added in a later update. The game is still fantastically addictive and has a reasonable, yet not impossible, challenge to it, to keep you interested and coming back to it time and time again.

The gameplay is nothing entirely original however, it's been done hundreds of times before, but Cars 2 - The App does it incredibly well. It's a simple technique, tap the screen to jump, tap again to double jump, whilst trying to collect coins to achieve a high score and avoid obstacles and hazards. There's some quite clever obstacles in the game actually, swinging maces and Toy Story-esque traffic cones. They all just make the game a little bit more interesting and give it a bit more of its own flavour.


In terms of its own flavour and aspects that make the game a little bit more varied and a little bit less repetitive, you have some choice and options. There are 4 characters from the film to pick from: Mater, Lightning McQueen, Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell. Although all 4 are practically the same, they have slightly different weights and feels, so all handle minutely differently, but I do think it would have helped to have individual character abilities, just to differentiate more. Although there are power ups (largely borrowed from other games), such as magnets to attract coins and lightning boosts to increase speed, it just changes gameplay up a little bit. Also, there's a choice of 3 different level packs, all coming from separate locales in the film: Oil Rig, Tokyo and London, all are pretty much the same, with the user having to avoid increasing amounts of obstacles and gaps to reach the finish line. Although the game can get quite repetitive, Disney have made some efforts to keep the game interesting.

In terms of the different levels, they all have distinctly different looks to them; Oil Rig is dark and imposing, Tokyo is bright and vibrant and London is sunny (not in reality) and hectic. All 3 of these different areas are beautifully illustrated in the game, the Tokyo levels in particular are fantastic for an iOS game. The bright, vivacious, lively signs in the background (including a reference to Lotso from Toy Story 3) are just brilliant. This is certainly a very good looking game.

All in all, Cars 2 - The App is a great game; it's fun, it's addictive, it plays very well and the gameplay is very intuitive and easy to pick up. Similarly, there is a decent level of challenge to the game and you'll be brought back time after time. On the other hand however, the game isn't groundbreaking, the gameplay is somewhat familiar and there's not that much choice to it. However, what there is to the game is very fun. This is a really good app and it's right up near the top of the App Store with the likes of Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Tiny Wings for a reason (it's currently Number 5 on the Paid Games section of the App Store). You can buy Cars 2 - The App right now for £0.59 or $0.99, and I'd recommend that you do.


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