I'm not a big fan of Pixar. Sure, their movies look good and all but most of them just weren't good. I have yet to see Cars because it looked boring. I rented the PSP game because there was nothing else available. It turns out that the game isn't half bad. Not great but it works well for its target audience.
The plot of the Cars game is simple. McQueen and friends are out having a friendly race when four other cars come up and say they are taking the town over. So now to see who gets to keep the town a race is happening. Not a great plot but it is a plot. It's better than I was expecting.
Graphic wise I found Cars to be really nicely detailed. The cars look like they did in the movie trailers. The tracks look nicely detailed, in a cartoonish kind of way. I think my problem with the graphics was the location for the game. It's all a really big desert so there is a lot of tan colors and dust. It does look good but it gets tiresome seeing the same color scheme over and over.
Sound wise the game is solid. Sound effects are what you'd expect from a racing game. Obviously not realistic but they are fitting. The voice work while limited does seem like it uses the actors from the movie. I really dug the soundtrack though. I think they pulled most of the songs from the official soundtrack and they really work well in a racing game.
I oddly found the control to be fine as well. The car kind of glides back and forth but there was also a sense of speed. I did have trouble power sliding. Trouble as in I never figured it out. The game also has some odd collision detection. If you hit another car or something to fast you're car bounces like a giant rubber ball. It really drove me insane when a car would sideswipe me and I'd bounce and come to a stop.
Cars is your average racer. Story mode has you placing first in 4 or so tracks and then doing a single race against a boss character. They are all 3 lap races. I found the boss races to be a fit unfair as you couldn't really keep up; it was more like you'd have to catch up and in the final lap you would be able to pass. Speaking of passing the game does the whole drifting thing which gives you a tiny auto-boost but also fills your boost meter; there are also boost pads on the track as well.
The one thing I really liked about the game play was the tracks themselves. The layouts are good and it really brought me back to when I played Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2. Interesting locations for the most part and they all featured a ton of short cuts and all of the other stuff you'd expect from an arcade racer. One thing that did annoy me about some of the short cuts was that if you didn't know you could jump, which I didn't find out until the 25% mark you could miss a few of the shortcuts and you do need them as the other cars will use them as well. Jumping does seem a bit silly but it's only really used for that.
The main story mode itself is fairly long, a few hours to beat. By beating it you unlock new tracks and cars. There is also a tournament mode which unlocks more stuff as well. Cars is one of the few games that really seems to like unlockables which is nice because it's cool getting something new for every little thing you do. I don't think there is any online play but I vaguely remember a multiplayer option. Not sure how it works because I'm not able to access it.
The game offers a lot of stuff to unlock though and the tracks are a blast. If I ever find the game cheap enough I'd buy it. I would actually recommend this title to anyone who liked the movie or whoever might be in the mood for a fun arcade like racer. While it doesn't have the police chases of Hot Pursuit 2, the tracks themselves are some of the best that I've seen in a while.