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Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged Review: Fast Cars, Hot Wheels, Tons Of Fun

Milestone returns with another blazing entry in the arcade racing game Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged, taking racing to the extreme.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged Review: Fast Cars, Hot Wheels, Tons Of Fun
(Picture: Milestone)

2023 has been nothing short of incredible racing games released and receiving content support from Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, The Crew Motorfest, EA Sports WRC, and, more recently, Forza Motorsport. Italian developer Milestone delivered one racing game this year in RIDE 5 and is back with the sequel to their arcade racing series centered around Hot Wheels.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 (HWU2) – Turbocharged will be blasting onto consoles and PCs with plenty of game modes, features, customization tools, and cars that will have players completely tilted with the abundance of content. It may not be competitive or playful like some of its contemporaries, but it has a unique blend of both without microtransactions and tons of fun.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged Review: Brief Overview & Presentation

Hot Wheels has been a name and brand synonymous with cars and automotive for decades, permeating through popular culture, including film and video games. I was excited to have played the Hot Wheels crossover with Forza Horizon 5, bringing its exhilarating race tracks and cars to the popular racing game.

Developer Milestone Italy (RIDE 5, MotoGP 23) continues its momentum following the release of RIDE 5 with Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged (HWU2). While the first entry was a massive deviation from racing simulation games for the developer, it certainly changed the pace for the studio by flaunting a more fun and chaotic side while bringing their precision and expertise to Hot Wheels.

Granted, HWU2 is competing with a couple of notable arcade racers like Mario Kart and Forza Horizon 5, but HWU2 is more accessible than its competitors and much more lenient on players. It doesn't inflict a penalty system if you commit any infractions or go off track; instead, it just respawns players to the last known location and lets you continue the race.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 Turbocharged Gameplay & Game Modes

The gameplay is straightforward and fun, and the UI is incredibly clean and vibrant, which, compared to other racing titles, is quite welcoming. Navigating the menu is a breeze, and the various gameplay features and modes are clearly labeled, catering to every type of player.

At launch, HWU2 features a career or campaign mode, Creature Rampage, for which players will play and ride out a compelling narrative involving four unique characters. With several events in which players can earn Coins and Skill Points, the former can be used for buying more cars from the in-game shop and the latter to customize their car.

Earning the Coins and Skill Points is relatively easy to achieve as you can complete the races and meet the race's objectives. XP can also be earned from these races, which helps you rank up and unlock unique cosmetics like Backgrounds, Card Backgrounds, Profile Icons, and Tags, which are used to customize your player profile in true Hot Wheels fashion with an array of designs, patterns, and colors.

Whether you're racing against AI ghosts in career or single-player or players online in multiplayer, there are diverse environments with extreme tracks that players can participate in one of many races: Quick Race, Drift Master, Time Attack, Elimination, Waypoint, Boss Race and Challenge. Each race time has unique requirements to complete, like car class, win conditions, and time objectives to earn Coins, Skill Points, XP, Upgrade Kits, and more.

This is also how players can unlock new race tracks through progression in the career mode, or they can purchase them using Coins but do be mindful of which environment they're buying for. Players can quickly blaze through the career mode by racing and unlocking the next race or rewards by viewing the massive Hot Wheels Story map.

You can also view your progress in career mode or from your in-game profile, which reveals completion stats like the types of races completed. When viewing your profile, you can find additional information like cars acquired, races completed, liveries, stickers, and tracks shared, which the latter is the created content players can make in-game.

hot wheels unleashed 2 turbocharged review track builder environments track room
The Track Room is one of six default track environments players can create tracks on. (Picture: Milestone)

Quite like other racing and automotive games, HWU2 has livery and sticker creator modes, which can be found within the garage feature from the Main Menu. Here, they design custom liveries and stickers, which can be shared with the HWU2 community or browse for liveries and stickers to download.

Also, the in-game shop can be found within the Garage, and players can view the cars accumulated through progression, purchased from the shop, and earned from the Hot Wheels Spin or Season Pass. And if that's not enough, there is a track builder mode, and yes, you can create your racetracks by choosing your environments, including the Track Room, and select the start and finish positions, boosters, and adjustments of the tracks.

Like the liveries and stickers, your custom tracks can also be shared with the community, and you can play created tracks by downloading them. With gameplay alone, there's an abundance of content to enjoy, whether you prefer playing solo or with friends online, and create your content to be shared online.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 Turbocharged Performance

Determining the performance of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged on the Nintendo Switch does fairly differently when compared to a PC, PlayStation, or Xbox console. Granted, this platform has faced criticism over a recent game performance; however, I found that HWU2 ran relatively smooth, docked, and handheld, without latency issues.

hot wheels unleashed 2 turbocharged review gameplay nintendo switch latency lag
HWU2's performance for the Nintendo Switch was expected to run smoothly without little to no latency issues. (Picture: Milestone)

This game doesn't demand high graphical performance, even on the Nintendo Switch, but at the same time, any performance issues will be difficult to recognize. Even though it's locked at 720p in handheld and 1080p when docked, it remains consistent with its framerates when running the game and does make playing its single-player mode or racing with friends online quite enjoyable.

The screen remains brightly lit, highlighting the vibrant colors on the tracks, environments, cosmetics, and cars synonymous with the Hot Wheels brand. Having played past games on the Switch, like Octopath Traveler 2, Inbento, and Tears of the Kingdom, HWU2 feels like a type of game intended to be played on the Switch.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 Turbocharged Review: The Final Verdict – 3.5/5

I initially went into this game, having reviewed Forza Motorsport, and opted to play on the Nintendo Switch, knowing that experiences would vary between PC, PlayStation, and Xbox consoles. Progression felt relatively fast when exploring the career mode and unlocking cars, tracks, and cosmetics, and leveling up felt effortless, especially when managing your car's stats through the Skill Tree.

It has the potential to craft one of the best modern arcade racing experiences along the likes of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Sonic & All-Stars Racing. It has plenty of content to dip your feet into, and all earned in-game with no microtransactions, which has been a contentious topic for years.

hot wheels unleashed 2 turbocharged review monetization microtransactions cars
Players can earn new cars buy buying them through the in-game using Coins earned from races. (Picture: Milestone)

This makes its customization process more enjoyable as you'll be racing and leveling up to earn Skill Points and Upgrade Kits to adjust the car's boost, handling, and obstacles while changing the exteriors with created or community liveries. Players will consistently be earning rewards, Coins, Skill Points, XP, and Upgrade Kits, which gives them more value for the game, especially given the amount of creator tools on hand.

However, the races can get repetitive as you progress further in the career mode, and being in an endless cycle of unlocking rewards can feel tiresome. If players don't earn enough Coins, they'll be stuck with a limited amount of cars in their Garage, plus the number of environments can make racing feel stale.

There's a reason why HWU2 will still entertain new, casual, and veteran racing players, and it's the excitement of the unique tracks that will launch them into the stratosphere, created content, and crossover cars arriving soon. It will keep you playing for a couple of hours until your Switch dies, but it's still a worthwhile addition to your library regardless of the platform, which receives a solid 3.5/5.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 - Turbocharged launches for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4|5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Epic Games Store and Steam on 19th October 2023. Players getting the game for the Switch are to note that crossplay is not available for this version.

The review copy of Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged was provided by the publisher and reviewed on Nintendo Switch.