2021’s Hot Wheels Unleashed was a fun-filled racing game that brought the toy race tracks of your dreams in game form. It hit the nail on the head with its selection of true-to-toy diecast cars and a stunning selection of tracks. Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged, however, brings back all of the good from its predecessor and makes some much-needed improvements.
Starting off with what’s hot, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 adds both motorcycles and ATVs to its garage with more than 130 vehicles to collect. Just like the previous game, you can still feel a great sense of speed while you’re drifting on plastic asphalt, and the core mechanics are incredibly satisfying.
Along with drifting and boosting, the game introduces two new mechanics, jumping and strafing. The new “laid-out” tracks do a good job of incorporating them, and there were plenty of times a missed jump landed me a spot in last place. However, both new mechanics make for some pretty cool maneuvers and allow some more options for shortcuts. Dashing into other cars during jumps also lets you knock out other cars from the track.
The new tracks look as good as ever, with 5 new tracks and some new track surfaces. It’s always nice to hear all the sounds in the environment, like when you whizz past all the games in the arcade, you might hear some retro music or characters grunting in a fighting game. Speaking of music, every single track in Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 slaps, and unironically, it might be one of my video game soundtracks from this year.
A common complaint with the previous game was the lack of more game modes. Hot Wheel Unleashed 2 offers seven game modes this time, with two of them solely for online. The Waypoint game mode, for example, is especially fun in a more unique way. In this mode, the player is placed in an open world-esque area and they have to follow an arrow to checkpoints.
The boost gauge is fully replenished at each checkpoint, and the environment usually has interesting shortcuts to take to get to them, so it gets fairly challenging. I had to restart pretty often after finding the ideal route to get the fastest time possible.
The single-player campaign this time around in Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 has a lot more style and substance. It has a story inspired by some of the lore of the Hot Wheels world, and features original characters. It’s illustrated in a cool comic book-like art style, and while the story is obviously targeted at kids, it’s got some quirky dialogue. The events in the campaign themselves are rather straightforward and are based on the 5 offline modes.
Overall, the single-player campaign is pretty fun, but I have some minor nitpicks here and there. One event in particular, “Sounds of the Wood” is restricted to a certain vehicle class, but the AI racing alongside seems to have no class restriction.
After completing a few of them you reach a boss battle. There’s a total of five boss battles in the campaign, and they were sadly the most underwhelming part of the campaign. They all follow the same formula and just involve driving around the track to hit targets in time before a meter fills up for you to lose.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 boasts a brand new skill system through which you can customize the vehicle’s driving style using skill points and buy specific perks. Depending on the vehicle’s category you can only equip a specific number of perks, and while some of them increase certain stats, they can also decrease other ones.
The new livery editor and sticker editor are welcome additions, and the track builder is also back with new modules and improvements. There’s still only two-player split screen for local multiplayer and not four-player, sadly, but online multiplayer supports up to 12 players in a lobby.
Like its predecessor, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 has multiple difficulties, and at harder and above, can be a serious challenge even for racing game veterans. At extreme difficulty though, it feels like the AI vehicles can cheat a little. You’ll witness some rubber banding at times, as well as instances where it feels like the other vehicles just catch up out of nowhere even if you have a massive lead.
For fans of the previous game, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 is worth upgrading to. There are plenty of new cars and customization options, fun new game modes, and even a decent single-player campaign this time which will take about 10 hours to complete. It’s almost there in terms of the perfect Hot Wheels racing game but just not quite yet. Nonetheless, it’s a downright fun racing game and has a little something for both arcade and hardcore racing fans.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged was reviewed on PC with a copy provided by the developer over the course of 15 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.
- Satisfying mechanics and tight controls
- More vehicles and customization options from the previous game
- Several new modes
- Lackluster boss fights in single-player campaign
- Feels like AI is cheating at higher difficulties
- Only two-player split screen in local multiplayer