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Videogames-To-Flix #27

Dec. 19, 2006by: Alex Keen

VIDEOGAMES-TO-FLIX is a JoBlo.com column showcasing reviews of videogame translations of Hollywood films (or games soon-to-become Hollywood movies). With both industries getting closer and closer, and videogames, in general, getting so much more popular, you knew it was just a matter of time before we hit that stuff!

CARS

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Developer: Incinerator Games
Publisher: THQ
Systems: XBOX 360, PC, PlayStation 2, XBOX, GameBoy Advance, Mac, PSP, Wii

INTRODUCTION:

CARS is an adaptation of Pixar's blockbuster of the same name. A successful professional talking race car, Lightning McQueen, competes in several major races on his way to finding that of which true friendship is made. The game includes missions with Lightning McQueen as well as his various co-stars. CARS also includes variations of multiplayer races and mini-games.

GAMEPLAY:

For a driving title, CARS fails to provide the fundamental experience that is required of a good game. Cars in CARS are not fun to drive. Game designers modified standards found in racing titles and forced players into one specific system of control. Boost is glued to left trigger and powerslide is glued to right trigger. Players trained on the best racing titles for the XBOX 360 (BURNOUT REVENGE and PROJECT GOTHAM RACING 3) this change seems silly and unnecessary. When a game is intended for the masses and not intended to change the way we play games, control should stick with the simple and the understood.

Car movement is, bizarrely, too loose and too tight at the same time. Cornering with Lightning McQueen is an exercise in frustration and years behind the joys of drifting in games like MARIO KART or PROJECT GOTHAM. Throw in a useless reverse-system (you have come to a complete stop for reverse) and this game comes up short of a proper arcade racing experience.

Even more frustrating than controls and car movement are the abundance of invisible walls. The graphics engine is strong enough to support a massive landscape of visuals but tiny, minuscule, unfortunately unnecessary invisible walls restrict players from playing how they should. The mini-games might be worthwhile if these walls didn't suck away the fun.

Gameplay: 4.5/10

GRAPHICS:

The aforementioned graphics of this game show a lot of draw-distance, something uncommon for a quick-fix movie adaptation. The main level is incredibly large in scale and impressive considering its brethren (I'm looking at you, OPEN SEASON!). The only real problem with the main level is the lack of variation. The map is probably as large as it is because not much really happens graphically. Unlike titles such as GRAND THEFT AUTO or SAINTS ROW, CARS skips out on making its huge map vary from block to block.

Because the source material provides a simplistic art style, CARS doesn't have to spend a lot of time making its character models very detailed. That allows the game designers more time to work on the character animations, which live up to the time spent. Small details like the movement of a characters' eyes add a lot to the overall graphical quality in this game.

CARS is easily one of the better looking movie adaptations in recent months. It's no GEARS of WAR but it's, thankfully, no RESERVOIR DOGS.

Graphics: 8.4/10

AUDIO:

The first step to insure a good movie-to-game translation is securing authentic voice work from actors involved in the movie. The second step is to make sure the same actors provide strong voice acting. If an actor is noticeably bored or if the dialogue is ripped out of context from the movie, the game and storyline will suffer heavily. CARS secured the real actors' voices, which appear to be speaking original dialogue for the game. Unfortunately, the majority of the voice actors sound bored and the game fails to be funny a majority of the time.

The game includes some modern and classic rock/pop songs, but they quickly grow tired. I provided my own tunes after several sessions and was only left to complain about the repetitive in-game voice clips. CARS only has like seven different songs, which is bizarre considering completing this game will easily take more than five hours.

The Foley work in CARS adds to the experience considerably. Engine sounds are subtle and convincing, as are the squealing and squeaking of tires. A personal favorite of mine are the pit sounds during the Speedway races.

Audio: 8.0/10

FINAL VERDICT:

CARS is one of those video games made solely to suck more money out of the pockets of parents whose children want nothing more than more merchandise bearing the Cars logo. Pixar licensed the game rights for their blockbuster animated movie to THQ, who subsequently published an attractive but fundamentally flawed game. As a whole, this game commits the most nefarious of sins - it exists only to perpetuate the norms of bad gameplay. For that reason alone, you should not waste your precious time.

Final Verdict: 6.7/10

STATUS OF THE MOVIE:

I can't seem to find any mention of sequel to CARS in development. So far, Pixar has only made one sequel in their short history and that was for TOY STORY. In my opinion, MONSTERS, INC. and FINDING NEMO would deserve sequels well before CARS. Both films had higher overall box office and were better reviewed. But who am I to decide which films get made and those that languish in the forgotten realm?

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