Hot Wheels: Beat That! Review
By Chris Commodore |
Who would have thought that driving miniature cars around recognizable domestic environments would lead to an incredibly unfulfilling experience? As charming as racing tiny little cars may be in theory, putting the idea into practice is an entirely different story. There's really no charm in Hot Wheels: Beat That! other than the fact that this particular title serves as a perfect representation, unfortunately, of below-average videogames. But there's more to be said about this miniscule racer, so let's move on.
Published by Activision Value and developed by Eutechnyx, Hot Wheels: Beat That! puts you in control of a tiny toy car and gives you the ability to race around a handful of tracks, competing against other like-minded toys. The only thing that gives this game any personality at all is the fact that the cars are indeed among the pint-sized variety, and there are a number of weapons and devices to employ during a race. That's the only interesting thing that can be said about Beat That!, because all the other game elements are extremely standard. Everything from the gameplay to the race tracks completely lacks evidence of inspirational design.
Um... nice?The game is divided into two main modes: single-player and multiplayer. The single-player mode is further organized into three difficulty levels: easy, medium and hard. At the beginning of the game, just about everything is locked, only giving you access to the easy setting and a single racing zone. Each zone is essentially a themed racing area, with about four similar tracks contained within. That set of four can be played with three different game types: Quick Race (a standard race), Eliminator (every thirty seconds, the last-place car is eliminated until only one remains), and Rampage (you must destroy a set number of cars with rockets). Furthermore, you can also play consecutively through these four tracks in a score-based Tournament. While this menagerie of modes may seem like a great assortment of activities to engage in, just remember that each of the four zones only has about four (very similar) tracks, and you have to play them over and over again. In other words, the game structure isn't that exciting.
Gameplay itself is carried out in the exact manner one would expect from a completely sub-par videogame. The little car of your choice can drive like any other car - it can drift and shoot a variety of semi-deadly weapons. Unfortunately, there are major control issues present. The cars not only feel bland but they also feel the same, with very minor differences between each vehicle. More problematic are the collision models and other similar mechanics, which allow your car to get caught, snagged, flipped or completely disabled on the most inconspicuous or inappropriate road objects. At one point during a race, our car actually got stuck behind a small groove in the road and couldn't even get out, throwing us from first place into last.
The many modes mentioned above, while seemingly impressive in number, were ultimately wasteful. Everything blurred together and grew less interesting as our time with the game progressed. The tracks have little individuality, and being forced to race the same four tracks four times in a row for each zone is absurd. Multiplayer also brings little to the table, because you can only play with one other person, split-screen, and only within the various game types and tracks that you've already unlocked (and on the same keyboard). Multiplayer is generally a great feature to have, but when the game is intrinsically poor, adding more players to the mix won't help things at all.
Loops.Displeasing gameplay isn't the only negative element working in the game's disfavor. Hot Wheels: Beat That! also sports bad graphics and one of the most repetitive and annoying soundtracks imaginable. In the grand scheme of things, it seems almost impossible that a game so fantastical would completely abandon the potential to create interesting tracks. And yet, the course design is horrendously bland and frustrating.