Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged Review

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 Header

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged is the unwieldily titled sequel to Hot Wheels Unleashed, the 2021 surprise hit from developer and publisher Milestone. These days, two years feels like a pretty quick turnaround for a sequel, so does Turbocharged manage to be anything more than a slightly shinier version of the original game?

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged is an arcade racer, aimed at young and old gamers alike. As such, it made sense to tag in an assistant reviewer for this game; my 7-year-old son. The two of us had ploughed in more time than I dare to think into the original game. In fact, with only 7 tours of the sun under his belt, the total time my son spent playing Unleashed likely adds up to a terrifyingly high percentage of his life so far. You can imagine then, that when I told him I was reviewing Turbocharged he genuinely squealed with glee. After having had such a grand time with the original game, both his, and my, expectations were sky-high for the sequel. Thankfully, I’m delighted to reveal that Turbocharged met, and exceeded, all of them.

Milestone has gone with the classic approach to sequel making: take the original and make it better in each and every way possible. The core racing mechanics have been tidied up immensely, so cars now feel much sturdier and more responsive in their handling, with none of the annoying flip-flopping out of control for no good reason that so plagued the original game. Boosting and drifting have also been refined, ensuring that the racing feels much punchier, and more dynamic than it did before.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 Turbocharged graphics

There are some fresh additions to the formula too, with the inclusion of strafes and jumps. These new skills could be overbearing, but they are smartly limited by requiring the players to sacrifice their precious boost meter to unleash them. It’s worth it though, as a jump can be cannily used to reach all sorts of delicious shortcuts on the wildly imaginative tracks. My son particularly enjoyed the opportunity to strafe, using it as a means to sideswipe competitors out of the way whilst cackling maniacally.

What’s most impressive with all is that Turbocharged feels even faster than the original. This is a modern Burnout, with top speeds that scorch both your eyeballs and the screen. Even in split-screen the framerate never drops, ensuring a thrilling race every time.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 Turbocharged bikes

Visually Turbocharged sees a big improvement too, with races now taking place in a series of much more engaging locations. You’ll be racing through a Dinosaur Museum, drifting around the Back Garden, and (best of all) hurtling across a Mini Golf course. Each environment is stunningly detailed, not that you’ll have much chance to stop and look at the vistas, as you’ll likely be busy admiring your gleaming Hot Wheels mobile.

Yes, let’s face it, we’re really only here because we love Hot Wheels vehicles, and Turbocharged is absolutely rammed with them. Cars and Monster Trucks return, though now with the addition of Bikes and Quad Bikes too. Quad Bikes proved a real hit with my son, who delighted in their exaggerated drifting prowess, whilst I enjoyed the intense acceleration – and impromptu wheelies – offered by the bikes. Both are worthy additions to the game.

In total, there’s an impressive 130ish vehicles to collect. Some are returning favourites and others are brand-new to the series. To say more would be to spoil the surprises but, suffice it to say, if you are a Hot Wheels fan, you are going to love collecting them all. You’ll do this thorough purchasing them with the in-game Hot Wheels currency you’ve earned playing. There are also a few super-secret vehicles to be found once you’ve completed the new single-player campaign mode.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 Turbocharged environments

Sadly, the campaign mode is likely the weakest part of Turbocharged’s offering. The fully-voiced comic book cut scenes are intersperse between races like an insipid children’s cartoon. They seem to have no relation to the actual race you’ll be competing in and as such feel completely inconsequential. I get that they are aimed at a younger player, but I think it’s telling that my son soon started skipping them.

The difficulty spikes in the campaign are all over the place too. Whilst the difficulty levels of the AI opponents are far more balanced in this sequel – with an easy mode that’s actually easy – the campaign falls foul to a series of drifting and boss challenges that are plain mean. Having to drift around a track to achieve a target score isn’t that fun – particularly when a single collision will rob you of your hard-earned points multiplier. The same applies to the boss battles. Driving through a series of targets with an overly tight time limit is a poorly conceived mechanic for the young ‘uns. In fact, the boss races are far and away my son’s least favourite part of the game. All progression is blocked until you beat the boss, which seems unnecessary when you are aiming your game at a younger audience.

Still, even when ignoring the single-player campaign, there’s plenty more game content to delight in. The vehicle livery editor and track editors are both far more intuitive than before, each offering hours of fun. Heck, I spent thirty minutes alone tinkering away to make the perfect Twin Mill. And, let me tell you, it was time well spent.

Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 Turbocharged is like Hot Wheels Unleashed, but better in every single conceivable way. Frenetically fluid and stonkingly fast, this is a quality arcade racer that will slap smiles on the faces of both young and old alike. Just don’t mention the single-player campaign.
  • Visuals are even slicker this outing
  • So! Fast! Eyeballs! Melting!
  • Quads and Bikes are a great addition
  • Jumping to find a sneaky shortcut is the best
  • Quick races are perfect family fun
  • Difficulty spikes in the campaign
  • Saturday morning cartoon cutscenes are naff