Cars 3: Driven to Win
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cars 3: Driven to Win is an arcade racing game that lets players drive as their favorite cars from the film franchise. The game also includes using weapons in two of its modes to take out rival racers, including machine guns, missiles, mines, and lasers. But this violence is cartoonish and not bloody or gory at all. The game is based on Disney/Pixar’s Cars franchise, and is a clear tie-in to the recently released movie.
What's it about?
CARS 3: DRIVEN TO WIN lets fans of the movie franchise climb behind the wheel of their favorite cars and compete in several races against rivals. Inspired by Cars 3, this game lets you play as more than 20 customizable characters -- including Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez -- as they prepare for a rematch against rival racer Jackson Storm. The game features more than 20 different tracks (including familiar locations from the film, including Radiator Springs and Florida International Speedway), and includes multiple game modes. Drive over power-ups to unlock special movies, earn a high-score not just by being first to the finish line but by performing stunts like barrel rolls and two-wheel driving), and in some modes, use weapons like machine guns and missiles to take out competitors.
Is it any good?
Unlike other games based on movies that are usually bad marketing vehicles, this racer is a fun, surprisingly good game. It doesn’t have all the features one might expect from a racer today, but it’s nearly there. The game boils down to three core gameplay elements -- racing cars, performing stunts, and unleashing kart racing-style weapons -- plus there’s a lot of selection in the characters you can play as, all of whom are customizable. And there’s a lot of breadth in the type of game you want to play, too, with a half-dozen modes to choose from, between the straightforward “Race” and “Best Lap Challenge” to the tricked-out “Stunt Showcase” and “Playground” to the weapon-centric “Takedown” and my favorite mode, “Battle Race.”
In Battle Race, you’ll find longer races to play against a friend or family member beside you, with unlockable cars, levels and Trophies (think Mario Kart, but wrapped in a Cars 3 skin). You’ll level up XP points, use nitro boosts at the right time, drift around corners, and more. Too bad the game doesn’t offer online multiplayer matches, but perhaps the target audience of kids won’t notice this omission. Same goes for the story, which isn’t worth getting into here, but your overall goal is to become a Hall of Fame Driver. Visually speaking, the developer did a great job capturing the look and feel of each of the familiar cars from the films, with highly-detailed car models, multiple tracks, and smart-looking effects including lighting, shadows, and explosions. The voice-acting is hit and miss, but younger gamers probably won’t even notice. Between its multiple modes, tight controls, and great graphics, Cars fanatics will no doubt want to climb behind the wheel of Cars 3: Driven to Win.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in the game. Do all the guns and explosives seem appropriate in a game based on an animated family film? Does the fact that the characters are cars lessen the impact of the violence?
Talk about marketing to kids. Is this game made to appeal to fans of the franchise, or is this a shameless marketing move that coincides with the Cars 3 feature film?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $49.99 to $59.99 (depending on console)
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Warner Bros. Interactive
- Release date: June 22, 2017
- Genre: Racing
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Adventures, Friendship
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Cartoon Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.