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'Hot Wheels Unleashed' is a fun, creative kart racer with depth | Gaming roundup

Also, a 'Twisted Metal' reboot is in the works

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This week in racing game news:

"Hot Wheels Unleashed" is exactly what a kart racing game should be

Earlier this week, "Hot Wheels Unleashed" was released for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC and even Nintendo Switch. We had an opportunity to play the game early on our weekly Twitch stream as well as throughout the week and in general, well, it's a pretty great game! There are a lot of highlights, but the first thing that's immediately obvious after booting it up is how meticulously designed and rendered all of the Hot Wheels vehicles are. It really feels like you've somehow transported little plastic Hot Wheels into your TV screen. They look incredible.

At launch, the game has 66 cars to choose from including classic Hot Wheels designs like Skull Crusher and Dragon Blaster, some cars from real car manufacturers like the Ford Mustang GT and El Camino, and even some from classic entertainment properties like the "Back to the Future" Delorean or the Batmobile. Each car has a distinctive feel, some differing drastically from one another, so you'll want to take some time to find the kind of car that fits your playing style the best. For instance, the Sandivore is a good all-arounder with decent speed, braking power, and acceleration, and you probably won't have too much trouble drifting around corners, but the Boom Car feels top heavy and can easily flip over on a tight turn if you're not careful. The variety between vehicles keeps the game interesting and provides a lot of incentive to unlock them all and experiment. 

Speaking of unlocking cars, the way it's done in "Hot Wheels Unleashed" is a breath of fresh air in 2021. Cars are unlocked with in-game currency that you acquire by simply *gasp* playing the game. In the shop, you can choose to "buy" a blind box (essentially a loot crate with a random car inside) or you can choose from ever-rotating limited offers that give you the option of choosing a specific car rather than leaving it to chance. There are, however, special-edition downloadable content cars that you can choose to buy with real cash, but with such a robust collection to choose from available via in-game credits, there's no pressure whatsoever. In addition to unlocking the cars with in-game currency, you can upgrade them the same way. If you have a car you love, but it's the "common" variety, you can use in-game "gears" to upgrade it to a "rare" or "legendary" model. 

The tracks and environments are all a blast as well. To start, players will have six unique environments available to race in: Basement, Skatepark, College Campus, Garage, Skyscraper, and Track Room. Within these environments, there are essentially infinite possible track configurations. Of course, there are the "official" tracks available, but one of the most impressive things about the game is its robust track editor. This tool is to IRL Hot Wheels track-building what Minecraft is to LEGO. It opens up endless creative possibilities by virtue of not only giving players access to many more build pieces than any rational person would ever have access to in the real world, but it also includes special animated pieces that could only exist in a digital world. Like the vehicles, you'll unlock more build pieces as you play through the game, with even more planning to be added in future updates.

We think the inability to play on other player-built tracks is the game's largest missed opportunity. With so much creative potential in the track builder, we would've loved to see a way to easily share your tracks with friends, or play the best community-built tracks by way of some kind of voting system. Currently, however, the only way to play community-built tracks as far as we can tell is to get them served up to you randomly in the online multiplayer track-voting queue. We're hoping a solution is added in the future to more easily parse the undoubtedly thousands of experimental custom tracks, "Mario Maker" style. 

All in all, though, this is basically all we could've ever wanted out of a game like this. It looks great, plays great, offers abundant customization options, forces minimal microtransactions, and even has upbeat and entertaining background music. If you'd like to see the game in action, we'll be playing it next Tuesday on our Twitch stream right here at 2 p.m. ET. If you'd like to pick up the game for yourself, you can do so right here. Happy Hot Wheelsing!

A "Twisted Metal" reboot is on the way

According to VGC, Sony has tapped the developer of "Destruction All-Stars" to reboot the iconic battle racer "Twisted Metal" series. The report also indicates that Sony is eyeballing a free-to-play model for the upcoming game, in-line with the "Destruction All-Stars" release model. We're cautiously optimistic for the updated take on the classic game and look forward to sharing more info as it becomes available.

"Dirt 5" gets a free Halloween content drop

If you like racing through pumpkins, then have we got some great news for you. "Dirt 5" has released it's "Tricks-N-Treats" Halloween Playgrounds update, available now to all players for free! Check out the launch trailer below. 

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