GDC 2011: 'Cars 2' Hands-On

Cars 2 The Video Game Hands On Game Developers Conference

Disney Interactive brought a playable build of the recently announced Cars 2: The Video Game to GDC. Cars 2 is being developed by Avalanche Software, the same people behind last summer's Toy Story 3: The Video Game. Instead of trying to recreate moments from the movie, Cars 2 takes place after the movie ends and allows gamers to continue the adventure started in the feature film.

Expanding on the spy storyline that is featured in the film, Cars 2: The Video Game takes place within the international car-spy training center -- CHROME (Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage). From that central hub players can jump into various game modes including traditional races, battle modes, and a version of takedown, among others. The various modes do a good job of keeping the gameplay diverse while resembling gameplay seen in games like Twisted Metal, Mario Kart, and Burnout.

The game also borrows some visual clues from another Disney produced racer, Split/Second. Like in Split/Second, there is no real speedometer. Instead, a segmented power bar sits under the player's car onscreen giving the player additional abilities like boost. Players fill the bar by drifting, jumping, and taking advantage of some of the Cars more cartoony attributes like driving on two wheels, driving backwards, or by doing tricks in the air. Driving backwards can really build a player's power bar quickly, but it also reverses the controls -- left is right and right is left -- providing its own set of challenges. It serves as a nice balance between risk and reward.

GDC Cars 2: The Video Game Hands On

Cars 2 also looks to keep games balanced by utilizing a "rubber-band" effect -- much like Mario Kart -- to keep the races close. While adults will likely get some enjoyment out of Cars 2, Disney and Avalanche know the game's potential market is likely kids and felt rubber banding was important to keep the races exciting. And exciting they were. Between collecting weapons during a race, drifting, boosting, and jumping, the races felt fast and kept the player engaged throughout.

The game supports 4-player split-screen gaming but no online play. It is a little sad to see online being left out, but 4-player split-screen sessions could be a lot of fun. The omission of online play and inclusion of 4-player split-screen seems like another nod to kids as the game's primary market.

Riding off the likely success of the Cars 2 movie, Cars 2: The Video Game could become a hit with its intended audience. It could certainly work as a fun party game during a sleepover. The story mode can be played co-op, and the level of weapon and item customization during races and battles could make for a lot fun. Moreover, "spy points" are earned by playing the various game types and can be used to purchase unlockables in the game, just another way to keep the party going.

The first Cars video game proved to be quite the hit, and Toy Story 3: The Video Game received some pretty positive reviews. If Cars 2: The Video Game is able to continue that trend, Disney and Avalanche could be onto a good thing.

What are your thoughts? Are you interested in Cars 2: The Video Game? Do you think this could be a good game to play with your kids or perhaps younger siblings? What would it take to get you to check out Cars 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Look for Cars 2: The Video Game to peel out to stores this summer for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Mac/PC, and DS.

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