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Friday, December 21, 2007

Game Review - Hot Wheels: Beat That!

Hotly Terrible: Smash That!

Perhaps it was my liking for racing games, or perhaps it was my time spent with Hot Wheels toys during my childhood that prompted me to have a go at Hot Wheels: Beat That! Whatever it was, the game is the closest virtual experience you can get to playing with real Hot Wheels toys. Yes, Hot Wheels: Beat That! is authentically Hot Wheels, so you can be sure of that nostalgia shot if you ever need one, but does it necessarily mean that the game is hot?

Surprisingly bare-bones, there are only 3 options that you can select upon booting up your copy of the game. The Challenge mode is basically your career mode that can be found in any other racer, while you can view the unlockable concept artworks in the Media Gallery. Options allow you to tweak the sound and that’s all.

The Challenge mode is fairly linear, and although there are 3 game types, namely Quick Race, Eliminator and Rampage, you are forced to progress through all the 12 tracks in the game, each with the 3 aforementioned game types respectively, in a way that is considerably boring. In an attempt to add variety to the game, the developers have implemented a points system. Reach a certain amount of points (known as flames in the game) and you will be awarded with extra vehicles and concept artworks. A 1st place finish earns you 3 flames. Besides completing 1st in each race, there are also secondary objectives to be accomplished, but while these add an extra layer of challenge to the game, they are in fact primary objectives. 2 ‘secondary’ objectives will be given in each race and completing 1 will award you a flame. So, it means that to progress, you must complete both ‘secondary’ objectives and finish 1st in a race to earn all 5 flames that are available for grabs in an event, essentially making the ‘secondary’ objectives become primary objectives. The ‘secondary’ objectives don’t offer you extra flames afterall, but instead, form part of the requirements for progression. Feeling gypped?

Of course, there still isn’t much variety and the game is still relatively boring. And that’s where the 3 difficulty levels come into play. You have Turbo, Nitro and Inferno in ascending orders of difficulty, but before you celebrate, be informed that completing a single difficulty level doesn’t warrant the completion of the entire game. Instead, you have to pull through all 3 (and collect all flames) to officially complete the game. As if that wasn’t bad enough, each proceeding difficulty level after the Turbo level is merely a rehash of the difficulty level before it, WHICH MEANS you must play through all the same 12 tracks again, each with the same 3 game types respectively. The only exception is that the game’s so-called ‘secondary’ objectives become increasingly harder to accomplish. Seriously, I can’t recall another game where I need to play through the contents of what an entire game has got to offer 3 times before I can officially complete the game. So, the 3 difficulty levels are just a ruse to get you involved in the game. Feeling gypped - twice?

Hot Wheels: Beat That! does have its ‘high points’, though. As mentioned, the game is authentically Hot Wheels, so be sure to expect the trademark orange tracks that run around the environments, which include bedrooms, bathrooms, underwater worlds, attics among others. Also, expect all vehicles to handle the same, with all of them turning on a central pivot. The statistics that you view about each vehicle on the vehicle selection screen are essentially throw-aways since performances from vehicle to vehicle are imperceptible. The exception is speed, but even then, you won’t have a very great sense of speed while racing. If your vehicle is faster, it will pull away from other vehicles in no time and vice versa – now, that’s the game’s way of letting you know the speed performance of your vehicle, which I think isn’t one bit realistic. While the Hot Wheels authenticity may please hardcore Hot Wheels fans, the game may leave non-Hot Wheels fans befuddled and subsequently, unhappy.

Fortunately, the game offers some fun in the form of power-ups, among which rockets, boosts, electric shocks, mines and invincibility. But just as the fun comes in, you realize another thing: This game is just so damn ridiculously easy – no really, this is the easiest game I have played to date. Hand it over to a 3 year-old and I am sure he/she would have no problems winning races. The graphics are acceptable, but why is the same music track repeating itself over and over again – it is not as if this game has tons of content and no space for more music tracks, right? It doesn’t even have multiplayer, but that’s alright, because I doubt anyone would be interested.

Final Comments
This game is terrible in almost every aspect. It is bare-bones. It cheats you into believing that there are actually secondary objectives in the game when in fact, they are primary objectives. It is the first game that forces me to play all its content 3 times over to officially complete the game. Each vehicle handles similarly. The game is ridiculously easy. The same damn music track repeats itself over and over again to the point where you will pass out. Need further proof to demonstrate why the game is so bad? And no multiplayer? This game feels totally rushed – totally.


The Good:
- Varied environments
- Power-ups
- Acceptable graphics

The Bad:
- EXTREMELY bare-bones
- Secondary objectives are in fact primary objectives
- 3 different difficulty levels merely a ruse to get you involved
- Game forces one to play all its content 3 times over to officially complete it
- Each vehicle handles similarly; statistics of each vehicle ignorable
- Game is damn ridiculously easy
- Same music track keeps repeating itself over and over – and over – and over
- Multiplayer is absent


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