Ever wonder what it'd be like to race one of those Matchbox cars down that plastic track? Now, in Hot Wheels Stunt Track Driver 2: Get'n Dirty, you can get behind the wheel in three different modes with varying degrees of difficulty and extra playing features.
Single Race and Championship modes use a 3D mapping style to portray more realistic backgrounds when racing, but, unfortunately, eliminates full control of your car. Your control is limited to up and down movements, but most of the action is dependent on your ability to spin the car around for tricks. The track winds, twists, and turns in ways unimaginable, with a surprise related to the theme of the level waiting at the end. For example, at the end of the beach level your vehicle flies off the track and slams into a giant sandcastle.
Tracks also twist in unexpected directions as your car goes upside down and throws you for a loop. However, the controls never change and you're limited to spinning your car around for points. It's possible to make your car go faster by pressing the speed button while racing, but you can never alter the course.
As you progress through the tracks in Championship mode, you win the use of newer cars with different abilities, which actually have a direct impact on performance, even though you don't have complete control. For instance, the yellow dune buggy gives you incredible spinning power at much faster speeds than the red pick-up truck. There are twelve different cars in total with separate abilities based on engine power, on- and off-road traction, and steering. The latter determines how fast you can perform flips and maneuvers in the air.
Six tracks in Championship and Single Race modes offer different themes, ranging from a cornfield and the beach to dinosaur ruins. Creatures or large animals pose as obstacles, such as the crab on the beach or the cat in the cornfield. While these modes and tracks are fun initially, they're quickly finished. You need a gamepad or joystick controller, as the keyboard can't be used. The four main buttons on the gamepad control different spinning directions and speed in the main game, and, holding the speed button makes the entire race go much faster with more impressive tricks possible.
The third mode, build-your-own track, is a nice addition and extends game life by allowing four tracks to be saved at any given time. The template track is made up of 49 squares, with a dozen different obstacles available, such as a skateboard, airplane, bridge, shovel, or tire. Another 12 square-fillers are used for making turns and filling in the blanks between the obstacles. You can make your track twist and turn anywhere within the 49 squares of the blank area, but are limited to only 12 obstacles per track.
More obstacles and cars should have been included since this is by far the best part of the game. You have full control of your car at all times, and can still perform tricks. In fact, you can deviate from the course all you want, drive in the middle of nowhere, and still finish through the end gate. Striving to beat your own best score is the only limitation in this mode.
Hot Wheels Stunt Track Driver 2: Get'n Dirty offers quite a new take on racing by letting you drive from the perspective of a Matchbox vehicle. The most glaring problem is the sacrifice of controls for better graphics in the main mode -- a baffling issue. The game, while fun, could be so much more, and without the track construction mode would be far too limited.
Graphics: Graphics at the price of control options. The crabs, cats, beach balls and other obstacles are very large and lifelike. The tracks have good texture and turns can be very unexpected. In some areas, orientation is difficult (e.g., cornfield) due to the excessive flips and turns.
Sound: Though not strong, music and noises add to the excitement. Sounds associated with speed boosts are interesting. Crowds cheer and fireworks explode when you perform tricks successfully.
Enjoyment: Despite the shortcomings, the game is fun. Performing tricks require skill, partly due to the various buttons on the controller. The track building mode adds considerable enjoyment to the mix.
Replay Value: The main game isn't much fun after you see all of the spiffy graphics and run the tracks. However, building your own track is different each time and offers good reason to replay.
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