Hot Wheels Unleashed was a distinctly pleasant surprise when it launched a couple of years ago, marking a much-needed departure for put-upon motorcycle developer Milestone. While the game handled like a dream – and had some stunningly rendered toy car models, particularly on the PS5 – it lacked variety and had a strange post-release content model, which straddled the line between live service and traditional Season Pass.
We always felt, and you can lob expletives at us in the comments if you like, that a sequel would work best as a free download, with a gacha-style model enabling you to unlock new cars. But the developer has decided against that route and is plumping up for another full-price entry, so is it any good? Well, buried in the deep, dark corners of the Tokyo Game Show, we went hands on with a demo build – although running on the Nintendo Switch, we had to use our imagination a little.
Indeed, those pristinely rendered car models from the PS5 version of the original were missing here, replaced with polygonal blobs. It’s a consequence of the Switch’s lack of hardware power we suppose, and we assume the quality of the original models will be retained on the big boy consoles, so we’re not going to criticise that aspect just yet. The handling model, at least, appears to be in tact – this is a really satisfying game to play.
The biggest change here appears to be in the course design, which in the circuits we sampled are located outside. This necessary visual variety is going to be a game-changer in the sequel, as the first instalment could get samey with its indoor loops, as we touched upon above. We also felt the actual design was generally a cut above, with more chaotic jumps, unexpected hairpins, and generally more challenging layouts overall.
There’s really not much else to say yet based on our demo: this is shaping up to be a strong if overall unspectacular sequel to Unleashed – as its suffix so eloquently denotes, it’s Turbocharged. As big fans of the original, we’re looking forward to taking this for a spin – especially on the PS5, where that glossy plastic visual style so well-executed in the original will once again be able to shine.
Will you be picking up Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged when it launches later this year? Make a fast start in the comments section below.