Forget about the collectors value. Hot Wheels were meant to be taken out of their packaging, pushed around, wrecked, and driven off makeshift cliffs that consisted of your couch cushions. Hot Wheels Turbo Racing captures the look and feel of those popular little cars and manages to deliver a surprisingly excellent gaming experience along the way.
At first glance, it's easy to dismiss Hot Wheels Turbo Racing as just another racing game. It's got the standard options, including car and track select, a practice mode, and some championship races. But the cars and tracks are what make it so different. The cars, all modeled after real-life Hot Wheels cars from the past and present, look really good, right down to the wheels. The tracks are filled with lots of tight twists and turns, as well as some loops and corkscrews thrown in for good measure. On top of that, a good portion of the road on these tracks actually look like actual Hot Wheels track pieces. Plus, the tracks have been designed with lots of big jumps and several shortcuts to help keep things interesting.
The big jumps aren't just for show, either. When you catch air, you can pull all kinds of crazy stunts. The better the stunt, the more turbo boosts you earn. With some of the more stunt-oriented cars, you can do all kinds of helicopter spins, barrel rolls, and back flips. Combining the three types of spins in the same stunt is where you really start to earn lots of turbo. The physics of the game really makes jumping, driving, and pulling off big stunts a real blast.
Graphically, Hot Wheels Turbo Racing puts on a pretty good show. It runs at a very fast speed and the graphics are pretty clean, with well-hidden pop-up. The sound effects are filled with all types of tire squeals, engines, and explosions, but the music is a really nice touch. The soundtrack features songs by Primus, Mix Master Mike, Meat Beat Manifesto, and Reverend Horton Heat.
It's a shame that many will underestimate Hot Wheels Turbo Racing just because it's got the toy-car license attached to it. The driving is great, and the stunt aspect of the game gives it a skateboard-like feel. It's definitely poised to become a sleeper hit.