There's something universally engaging about Hot Wheels that even in our grown-up lives, still sparks a sense of nostalgia. Back in the days as children, there was always this unique excitement about setting up Hot Wheels and launching cars at high speed on race tracks with different themes. It's exciting to see that Milestone's video game rendering of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged has managed to bottle up that essence and transfer it into the gaming realm.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged is a fascinating sequel to the original game released in 2021. This new version comes encoded with a captivating new campaign, Creature Rampage, which is inspired by the popular beasts that have been featuring in Hot Wheels toys over the years. The highlight of the game is the adrenaline-spiking races where you compete with the giant creatures; sharks, octopi, and dinosaurs, among others, from causing havoc in the city.
Every track of the Turbocharged game is uniquely designed and located in one of five new exciting environments including the Backyard, Mini Golf Course, Arcade, Gas Station Diner, and the Dinosaur Museum, which is easily a crowd favorite. The variety of levels, ranging from simple time trials to heart-pounding drifting challenges, are geared towards testing your driving prowess in exhilarating races. The transformative changes of the sequel are impressively implemented in the core components of the game, with the addition of a jump, double jump, and sideways dash adding a twist to the original racing mechanics.
The objective of jumps is mainly to avoid obstacles like gaps in the track, walls, and rings of fire. However, it can also be used strategically to navigate through sneaky shortcuts, thereby outsmarting your opponents by cutting corners. The sideways dash gives you an upper hand over your competitors enabling you to knock them off course, leading to a myriad of possible outcomes including missing a checkpoint or even plunging down the course. Consequently, these changes add a new layer of competitiveness that was somewhat lacking in the original game.
Perhaps one of the significant improvements in Turbocharged is the introduction of new terrains and obstacles. Unlike the initial game which suffered from apparent monotony of track designs, the sequel offers a refreshing variety with grass, concrete, and sand being integrated into track designs. Transitioning between the different terrains provides an extra challenge as it significantly impacts your vehicle's handling. During the races, you will also find yourself evading a variety of dangers, like dragon fire, shark bites or gorilla punches, adding to the excitement and uniqueness in each track.
The return of Split-screen and Multiplayer modes allows you to relive the campaign's core game modes in a mixed mode playlist or private lobby online. Moreover, you can vote on the next track to play and queue up in a party with your friends. The campaign, which lasts between 12-to-15 hours, unlocks a series of new races with challenging objectives, enticing gamers to engage for more. One commendable improvement in Turbocharged is how it encourages the use of a wide variety of available vehicles unlike the original version which allowed players to stick to only one or two cars. Now, with a variety of over 130 different vehicles to choose from, it's a good thing this omission has been addressed.
When taking a break from racing, the Garage option gives you access to view and edit your vehicle collection. You can also create and share liveries and stickers to customize them, spend your earned in-game currency in the shop, or create and share new tracks in the Track Editor. In a vast improvement from the original version, the infamous loot boxes have been replaced by a shop featuring hourly rotating stock and a daily spin the wheel making it easier to acquire the vehicles you desire.
The sequel's presentation quality rivals the original's with incredibly detailed environments and models that one can easily spend days appreciating. The accompanying funky, upbeat tunes perfectly captures the pace and atmosphere of the races. All these enhancements are polished off by a stable frame rate with no noticeable drops and an absence of bugs and glitches, leaving little not to love about Turbocharged.
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