Cars 3: Driven To Win Switch Review – More car-themed mayhem than actual racing

Whether you like the movies or not, Cars has always offered a decent gaming experience since it was first played on PS2 in 2006.

With the game appearing in eShop sales on the Switch, we’re taking a fresh look at whether this is the family-friendly speed fest it should be, or if the tiny Switch hardware is struggling to deliver this multiplatform game.

The judgment? Well, to ruin a perfectly good quote: the stuff is the reward, not the race.

And for “stuff” read “action”. This is an explosive, action-packed festival of speed, with just a few prerequisites for finesse. Rubberbanding sees competing cars visibly waiting for you on the road as you slow down. If you hit any object head-on, the game will put you back on track without lifting a finger or even going into reverse.

And you don’t even need the brakes, especially since there’s a special “Drift” button to get you around the tougher corners.

Cars 3 Driven to Win Switch Mater

The result of this is that it’s fun in a vintage Midway sort of way. And there’s absolutely always something to do, whether it’s firing a rocket at the car in front, riding two wheels to make a row of chevrons light up, jumping over obstacles, or just driving backwards around the track.

It might threaten to get too involved, but it’s all optional and the game displays handy steering hints to tell you what would be the best move in the current situation. It is not intrusive and usually requires a certain level of skill to get the best results.

And this is where the game really succeeds. It’s simple enough that even younger players will enjoy driving their favorite car on the many tracks, but if you really want to make the most of it, unlock all bonus modes and challenges and complete the Hall of Fame checklist from side missions you need some skill on the joypad. Everyone is a winner.

Cars 3 Driven to Win Switch split screen

The game is also designed for local multiplayer fun and is immediately playable in split screen, at least after the intro race.

The game is hardly a head turner at its best, but split-screen play suddenly feels a lot like a Gamecube game, with muddy textures and shadow redrawing, dodgy frame rates, and a low-resolution appearance. But it’s still playable, and it’s just as hectic and action-packed as the solo modes.

Cars 3 Driven to Win Switch weapons

There’s loads of content here, with new and returning tracks, and even a free-roaming playground side mode with its own set of challenges.

It’s also packed with speech from the cars around you, although the soundalike speakers aren’t always convincing if you know the movies, which is a shame. Chick Hicks’ post-race “analysis” goes flat pretty quickly, but the voice clips are at least plentiful and not too repetitive. The presentation is commendably smooth and does a good job of putting the cinematic universe in your hands.

Cars 3 Driven to Win Toggle Playground Mode

So it’s a big, content-rich game with a strong arcade leaning, constantly involved and occasionally spectacular, but tempered with the technical limitations of the Switch hardware.

It’s not really a “racing game” as we know it here at Traxion.GG, but as a gateway to bigger things for younger players, or just more fun for fans of the film, here’s a fun game to keep you entertained.

The Traxion.GG review's verdict: consider it

developer avalanche software
release date June 13, 2017
Available Platforms Nintendo Switch, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U
version tested Nintendo switch
Best played with it Nintendo Switch handheld mode

Full Disclosure: This game was purchased for review purposes. Here is our review policy.

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