A few more tricks in your arsenalGameplay isn’t dissimilar to other kart racing games like Mario Kart and focuses just as much on combat as it does on racing, while offering a variety of modes, from point-to-point races to survival challenges. The control scheme is instantly accessible and cars lightly bounce and float around the track, meaning you can take corners at speed and weave in and out of traffic without having to worry too much about applying the brakes. Speed boosts, power-ups and shortcuts provide an extra incentive to stray off the beaten track and the addition of weapons adds that strategic edge and element of fun and unpredictability that you’d expect from a kart racer. Cars 2 doesn't quite have you yearning to replay tracks over and over again to shave seconds off your lap-time - in the same way that Mario Kart does - but it's a fast and enjoyable ride that benefits from the cars unnatural athleticism.
The fact that cars can jump and perform tricks in the air adds to the fun. Not only do you collect points for doing this, which can be used to unlock characters and game modes, but you can use it to dodge obstacles - leaping left and right at the last minute to hop over an oil slick or a mine. You can twist full circle in the air and even end up driving backwards too, which accumulates boost power. Boosting, power-sliding around corners and locating short-cuts is all part of the fun too, and while there's nothing incredibly unique about the tracks in Cars 2, races are entertaining and quite aggressive thanks to the weapon set on offer. It's not the most imaginative range of weapons you'll ever see, with the likes of homing missiles, mines, oil drops and machine guns offering a similar expereince to other kart racers, but taking multiple opponents out and finding yourself moving from last place to first in a matter of seconds is always a satisfying moment.
Beyond the six level career mode, multiplayer is both a joy and a disappointment. Split-screen multiplayer is a great addition that gets all the family involved, but the omission of online play - which would have created the social and competitive hub that any kart racer deserves - is a strange one. As is the decision to make you unlock some of the multiplayer modes in the single player game before you can play them with friends and family. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t hesitate recommending Cars 2 for your children. Not only will they enjoy the characters, the universe and be able to get to grips immediately with driving the cars, but older kids and adults too should also get a buzz out of some fast-paced, aggressive races and wicked kart racing skullduggery.