“Focus. Speed. I am speed. One winner, 42 losers. I eat losers for breakfast.” Summoning the courage to give each race his all, we have much to learn from Lightning McQueen’s perseverance and tenacity to succeed.
Racing around Thomasville against Cruz Ramirez, Doc, and Smokey, Cars 3: Driven to Win firstly chooses to remind us that skill is everything and that we can always learn from those that are more experienced. Louise Nash catches up, River Scott soon after, and then Junior Moon gives chase, and, while this introduction to the world of Cars is really looking to teach the player how to drift and jump, it isn’t long before we burst on to the Thomasville Speedway to turbo boost over the finish line.
Rather than retread the events seen in the movie, Cars 3: Driven to Win picks up directly after the final big race. With Racing Sports Network (RSN) commentator Chick Hicks unconvinced that he should continue his racing career, Lightning McQueen, determined to prove everyone wrong, starts to train to take on rival racer Jackson Storm once more.
This will see your time with the competitive racer centre on earning Skill Checks, which, accumulated in the Hall of Fame, will see players showered with new characters, modes, Master-Level events, and car effects. Whether simultaneously striking two opponents with Bombs, remaining in 2-Wheel Driving Mode continuously for 10 seconds, or performing and successfully landing a double front flip Air Combo, these Skill Checks constantly encourage players to experiment with tricks and abilities on the road to become the ultimate driving master.
When you start Cars 3: Driven to Win only the Events mode will be available to you, with Skill Checks required to unlock the Cup Series, Sponsored Team Play, and Thomasville Playground. There is perhaps some room to criticise the fact that you cannot access everything from the start, but seeing as you only need 37 Skill Checks to unlock all modes, that shouldn’t take you much time at all. I managed to earn eight Skill Checks in my first Battle Race, another eight in my next Race, and then five in a Stunt Showcase without much effort – and having a lot of fun to boot.
What did take some time to get used to was the Drift, which, especially for those that have spent hours with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, is trickier to get to grips with compared to the kart racer. There is an Auto-Drift option though, for younger players and adults alike who may need some assistance.
The Events can see you compete in a standard Race, the more chaotic Battle Race that throws weapons in to add some mayhem, the Stunt Showcase that sees you try to score more points than your competition by landing Air Tricks, eliminate as many Crash Kart waves as you can in Takedown, set new lap records in Best Lap Challenge, or compete against a specific rival with other racers getting in the way in Master-Level Events.
There is enough differentiation to maintain your interest, and, when you unlock the Cup Series you can take on multiple races at a time in each category as well as having the chance to create your own. Then, Sponsored Team Play will let you compete with or against your friends in local split-screen multiplayer, with Thomasville Playground lending more freedom to simply mess around with less restriction.
The mixture of tracks is good, with wide turns, ramps, and shortcuts hidden away in each. But, in comparison to other contenders in the genre, they are largely unremarkable, relying more on the player to make their own fun on them. There are also tracks that make a return from Cars 2: The Video Game, so longterm fans can not only enjoy racing around tracks seen in the movie but some that they may already have raced around.
Having worked on their properties over the last decade it comes as no surprise that developer Avalanche Software – now re-opened under Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment after Disney Infinity’s cancellation – has been able to sprinkle Cars 3: Driven to Win a little Disney magic to bring the Cars universe to life on Nintendo Switch. There’s all of your favourite characters and locations with enthusiastic voice acting, too.
It’s unclear how long the game was in development, but it’s certainly rough around the edges. Often the case with games that are ported to so many different platforms at once, and which still included Wii U this time around, there was probably room for more optimisation – not that there are any particular performance problems, but graphically the game never really impresses with the most noticeable attention to detail being in the character models. The soundtrack, too, never really shines, never helping to build the experience.
It’s not necessarily a resounding victory lap for Lightning McQueen, but he’s certainly still far from retirement. Many will still find getting behind the wheel in Cars 3: Driven to Win to be an entertaining ride, but to forever linger in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s shadow, this is a game that is more suited to those that love the world of Cars and want to extend their time with it beyond the movie.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch