Oct 16, 2007
Many of you probably have fond memories of building insane routes for your Hot Wheels brand toy cars as kids. You may recall driving your parents crazy with looping plastic tracks strewn around the living room and rogue ramps bridging a massive jump across the toilet. And in all this reminiscing, you may think that Hot Wheels: Beat That! could prove a stimulating means of reliving your childhood or allowing your own children to experience in digital form what you once did physically.
Short-form review: it doesn't. Don't waste your time.
The idea behind a Hot Wheels racing game is so simple as to seem impossible to screw up: pilot a variety of colorful plastic vehicles through larger-than-life settings ranging from house rooms to a mini-golf course to a bowling alley. Early races successfully capture the sense of wonder that these locations should bring about, but the game is quickly dragged down by frequent repeats of the same courses with minor objective changes. Whether you're vying for first place or destroying your opponents, driving over the same pool table for the sixth time doesn't become any more interesting.
The game might have been salvaged with robust (or at-all existent) Xbox Live multiplayer, but Activision opted for the easy way out. The "high-octane multiplayer action" promised on the back of the box? What they meant is two-player splitscreen.
If you're buying this game for someone under the age of 10, they may glean a few hours of enjoyment from it, but expect disappointment as well. Blazing through the game's easy setting - which is necessary to unlock higher difficulties - will take no more than a few hours for even the most inexperienced drivers. And what awaits in the newly-unlocked settings? More repeated tracks.
All issues aside, Hot Wheels: Beat That! could have been a suitable budget title, which makes sense coming from Activision's Value division. Everything about the game screams budget - from the shoddy in-game menus to the cheap 10-page manual that looks like it was photo-copied at Kinkos a week before the game's release - except for the game's price, a ridiculous $49.99. Publishers take note: $10 off the next-gen norm is not a value, and with this game it's decidedly not worth it.