Top Gear: Take Cars Out for a Spin
Anyone with a kid knows how popular the 2006 Pixar film "Cars" is. THQ's video-game sequel is driven by voice talent from the movie, including Owen Wilson as race car Lightning McQueen and Larry the Cable Guy as Mater the tow truck. If your disc for the original Cars game is as worn as a set of NASCAR tires by now, this sequel is just the ticket -- for kids and families.
The game's open racing world offers many challenges in multiple racing modes as well as mini-games and a variety of races (such as road and stadium races and monster trucks) and styles (tag and relay, among others).
In story mode, kids can get behind the wheel of Lightning McQueen and drive through lush new landscapes in and around Radiator Springs for the chance to qualify for the international championship, the Mater-National. Throughout its many tracks and challenges, the game contains 350 flags to collect for those who want to play again and again.
The game is beautiful and fun to play. Although the tracks do become repetitive (as does the theme song, "Life Is a Highway"), the cars and the personalities are vibrant enough to make the experience worthwhile. The arcade mode allows fans to drive other characters in an assortment of races. (The story mode focuses on Mater and Lightning.) The Wii version is a lot more fun to steer using the Remote controller.
Veteran gamers should speed through the game in about six hours, but it's the racing equivalent of a Forza or Gran Turismo for the younger set, which means they'll enjoy this game for a long time and parents won't mind playing with them.
-- John Gaudiosi
Cars: Mater-National THQ/Rainbow Studios Everyone; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii ($50); Nintendo DS ($30) Cars: Mater-National THQ/Rainbow Studios Everyone; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii ($50); Nintendo DS ($30)