We’ve already had some time with Cars 2: The Video Game in the past, and our impressions were largely positive. Take our word for it, this is the game that parents are going to want to buy their kids so that they themselves can sneak in a few races after bedtime. It’s just too much fun to ignore, and although we discussed the single-player aspects of the game in our first preview, the most enjoyable aspect of this game is the abundance of multiplayer modes.

We were lucky enough to get some hands-on time with a majority of these modes, so keep reading to find out why a Disney-Pixar movie tie-in game was nominated as one of Game Rant’s best racing games of E3.

The minute we sat down to try out Cars 2, it was clear that our guide through the demo, Manfred Nader, had a healthy amount of unbridled enthusiasm for the product. Of course, he would, being the lead designer behind the game. Nader started out by explaining to us the story of C.H.R.O.M.E. and introducing us to the controls.

The game plays very smoothly, operating as effectively as any other popular kart racer on the current consoles. The animations are also slick, from the cars flipping backwards to gain energy, to the weapons that fold out of the sides of the vehicles.

Cars 2 E3 Screenshot 1

Nader gave us a quick tour of a typical race through one of the many levels in Cars 2, where we could get a feel for the boosting and drifting, which become invaluable tools in the more complex multiplayer modes. After we got our bearings, Nader eased us into the competition with a Battle Race. Battle Races are identical to the typical races in the game, with the added danger of weapons. Weapons include oil slicks, missiles, machine guns, and EMP bursts – all very efficient for impeding fellow racers.

By the time we finished the Battle Race, we had become relatively competent with the game, and that’s where the true challenge began. Nader introduced us to a competitive match where the players broke up into teams and fought over a reactor core in the middle of the map. Whichever team could get the core to the other’s base first scored a point. Of course, such a weighty reactor core does quite a number on the maneuverability of the talking cars, so it’s key to build up as much energy as possible to ensure your opponents won’t chase you down.

Nader paired the two of us together, assured that he wouldn’t have any trouble taking on both of us at once. Unfortunately for him, Game Rant does not employ passive gamers. Believe us when we tell you that it is not often that a cartoon racing game grips its audience as intensely as this match of Cars did.

We were skidding and blasting across the course for a solid fifteen minutes, emphatically leaning forward to make the final stretch toward Nader’s base before watching our vehicles explode in a flaming fury, shouting at the screen, and mashing every button on the controller in an attempt to bring our cars back to the battlefield even marginally faster.

Cars 2 E3 Screenshot 2

Several minutes later, the match was over, and team Game Rant walked away victorious. It would be hard to best such an intense and satisfying round of competitive racing mayhem, but Nader had even more in store for us. The next game type pitted the three of us against each other to see who could destroy the most targeted vehicles within a limited amount of time. Each destroyed car would add to the time limit, building a cooperative aspect into the competition.

During this race, I experienced one of the more direct rubber-band features to keep the less agile gamers close enough to compete. When I fell too far behind, my car would warp forward, closing in on the other racers. Despite the fact this happened multiple times throughout the race, I still ended only one point behind the winner.

Surprisingly, it never felt as if this feature gave too much of an unfair advantage or made the race unbalanced. this game is designed to be fun first, after all, so even the newbies and young ones will be able to have fun with Cars 2.

Manfred Nader offered us the opportunity to play through yet another of the apparently unlimited amount of multiplayer modes, but having already spent far too much time wrapped up in the world of Mater and C.H.R.O.M.E., we had to head out. Our impressions were certainly positive before, but I can’t deny that I was beaming after I finally put the controller down.

Come its release later this month, Cars 2 is set to make children, adults, and everyone in between smile from ear to ear for hours on end. Just try not to get too competitive. Trust us, it’s possible.

Watch out for Cars 2: The Video Game as it races to store shelves on June 21, 2011 for the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PC and Mac.