IGN Review of Hot Wheels: Beat That
As someone that used to build excessively large and complicated track sets within my bedroom (for far longer than was socially acceptable for my age), I can remember the thrill of watching my Hot Wheels cars zoom through loops and corkscrews, and eventually spilling out into the hall to be accidentally stepped on by my mom. The experience was nothing like playing Eutechnyx's Hot Wheels: Beat That! That's not to say this game is a bad racer, it's just a bad representation of what it feels like to be a Hot Wheels car.
Players assume the roll of what I can only guess is a tiny Jeff Gordon, or maybe a mouse with an affection for fast cars ala Stuart Little. You never get to see who is driving the cars, just the names, so it's hard to tell. They drive around in places they have no business being, like a child's bedroom, competing in three different types of races: Quick Race, Elimination, and Rampage.
Physically, Hot Wheels is a solid 3D racer. It's not original by any means, but the game is pretty fast paced. There are the obligatory weapons, which can be supercharged by earning points through drifting and jumping. The different race styles are enough to keep the game fun. There are optional objectives in each racer that will earn players extra flames, the point system for unlocking new cars and tracks. They're simple enough that the player will usually do them just by virtue of playing the game.
It's certainly cool to race around in giant levels. The sense of scale is well done, and at certain moments, like when the player launches off a jump, you can see the cool design of each area. The levels are a mix of Hot Wheels trademark orange tracks, and pathways through, around, and over things like furniture.
Beat That would be a lot more fun if it was presented better. The tracks in the game are hit or miss. Some of them are fun and well designed while others are downright boring. The problem is that players have to progress through the game in a very linear way. They pick one of three sections – Bedroom, Mini-Golf, or Attic – and then progress through four tracks within the area. Not only are the tracks in each section very similar, players have to go through all three game modes on each track. Players don't earn enough flames to really jump ahead very far, so they have to just play the game in order.
It's not that linear presentation is bad, but it should have been mixed up. By alternating the tracks with the race modes, Beat That could have been a lot more varied, and ultimately more fun. By the time I got to the end of each section, I was so sick of it that I had no desire to ever race those tracks again.
Every track has the trademark loops and jumps that Hot Wheels are known for. Unfortunately, it's really limited to pretty much just that: loops and jumps. They're just repeated throughout the track. The sad part is that these portions of track are actually the low points of the design. It's boring to go through the loop. The cars slow down and it doesn't really have the sense of going upside down.
The game is also far too easy to offer much of a challenge, even on the hardest mode (which is only unlocked by playing through the complete game twice). After I "beat that!" the game just asked me to play again on Nitro level, which is apparently more hardcore than Turbo. It's the same game each time, so why would players go through it again, just to get a couple cars. Maybe if the developers had put in something that would make me want to keep playing. I don't know, maybe a multiplayer mode? I played through 12 tracks, three tournaments and have dozens of cars and I can't even show them to anybody? The game has such a competitive theme to it that having no multiplayer seems ridiculous.
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