Cars Race O Rama is the third Cars title in this popular series. You assume the role of Lightning McQueen as you race around various environments trying to complete various quests. There are standard races, point to point races, monster truck races, mini car races and more. You also have events where you need to find a certain number of a specific item within a time limit. As you are going through these events you can also go to different garages and customize your car as you see fit. You can modify rear bumpers, various hood options, side skirts, wheels and rims, spoilers and the paint color. This game has over 30 playable characters with 15 of them being newly playable.
This game offers two different game modes for you to experience with the story and arcade mode. The arcade mode is where you can play any event that you have unlocked in the story mode. You can do circuit races, guido kart races, cars toons, various mini games and more. You can also choose whether you want to play single player or whether you want to play with another person. Unfortunately the multiplayer action in this game is limited to people on the same XBox so you won’t be going on to Live to race your friends. Of course, since this game is mostly aimed at the younger audience, that probably won’t be an issue for the majority of them.
The story mode has you as Lightning McQueen and you are competing for the ultimate Race-O-Rama trophy. To get there you will need to win a bunch of different events. You start out on the Radiator Springs Speedway and once you have met the requirements in this location you move on to the next locale. The requirements are generally you winning events that have a gold star associated with them. To find these events you can simply look at the mini map on the screen (or open up the full map, which can be found on the pause screen) and see where the gold star is located. These are the events that will propel the story forward. There are side events that you can do at anytime though so you aren’t required to immediately progress the story if you don’t feel like doing so. If you somehow get stuck and you aren’t sure what to do next you can always go to your friend Mack and he will point you in the right direction. The actual storyline in the game is pretty thin. You are competing with Chick Hicks with your respective academy of student racers. Chick Hicks thinks he is the best and will do anything to prove it, including cheating. Lightning wants his students to race fairly and will do what he can to prevent Chick Hicks from taking over.
The gameplay for this title is pretty simplistic. You have one button for gas, one for brake, one for boost and one to help you drift around those tight corners. You will also race as different vehicles from a sports car to a tow track to a monster truck. Unfortunately the handling on all of these vehicles aren’t always good. The handling for the sports car seems to be pretty good, however, on other vehicles such as the monster truck and the mini vehicles it is far to easy to spin out. The slightest little thing will cause your car to spin out which could cause you to lose the race, especially if it is a tight race and you are near the finish line. The controls for these vehicles definitely should have been tightened up before the game was released. Some of your opponents can be really aggressive at times too trying to sideswipe you off the road or smash you into a wall. While this adds a layer of challenge to the title I am not so sure the intended audience is going to have the patience to complete some of the tasks in the game. The voice acting can also become repetitive really quick. You’ll hear the same few phrases said again and again. It would have been nice to have a little variety in this department as well.
Overall, Cars Race O Rama is simply another licensed game. There isn’t anything that will keep a hardcore gamer interested, however, the younger audience will probably love this title, especially if they are a fan of the movie. Being able to play as Lightning McQueen and race around the Cars world will undoubtedly be a lot of fun for the younger audience they were aiming this game at and for parents it is a safe game for their kids to play. They don’t have to worry about any excessive violence or profane language. Since this game doesn’t have any online play either parents don’t have to worry about who their kids might be playing against. This game was granted “XBox360 Family Games” status and with the holidays coming up this could be a great stocking stuffer.