Cars 3: Driven to Win Reviews

Slam Shot Sam
665,738 (356,351)
Slam Shot Sam
TA Score for this game: 1,909
Posted on 21 July 17 at 16:53
This review has 7 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
Cars 3: Driven to Win | Xbox One | Review

The once-prominent film tie-in has been on the decline for a number of years now, which is largely considered a good thing, as shedding the often oppressive schedules has allowed licensed games to flourish. Cars 3: Driven to Win, however, is a rare exception; a good ol’ fashioned film tie-in that’s also legitimately fun.

Cars 3 doesn’t use its license as a crutch, in fact, if anything, it underutilises it. Besides a brief introduction, the iconic cast of characters and locales are relegated to mere vehicles and tracks, just as you’d see in a conventional racer. The sparse opening framework sees Lightning McQueen and company poised to participate in a series of simulated races as part of TV show Chick’s Picks, with host Chick Hicks. The simulation angle allows Driven to Win to draw from the entire Cars franchise, which caters to fans, but the lack of any overarching narrative doesn’t.

We were initially disappointed to discover what lay before us was a series of single events and cup tournaments, rather than an explorative adventure, but after sampling the latter in the unlockable Thomasville Playground mode, it became clear that Avalanche Software and Warner Bros. took the game in the right direction. Navigating the elaborate, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater-inspired area is nothing short of a cumbersome pain in the rear bumper.

Track events are altogether more entertaining, thanks in equal parts to their engaging variety and surprising nuance. Whether engaging in a standard Race, Best Lap Challenge, Stunt Showcase, Takedown event or Battle Race - both of which incorporate Mario Kart-style weapon pickups - the core gameplay is fun for players both young and old.

Customisable difficulty and drift assist settings play a part in accommodating everyone, as does the arcade handling’s pick-up-and-play design. While you can simply hold the accelerator down and turn to take first place at the easier end of the spectrum, ramping the difficulty up encourages a level of tacticality that can be quite rewarding.

To be competitive at a higher level you’ll need to memorise the location of sneaky shortcuts and on-track obstacles, perform aerial acrobatics and Stunt Drive (that’s driving in reverse, on two-wheels, or drifting) for prolonged periods to earn more speed-boosting Turbo, decide whether or not to hoard that Turbo in order to enter an invulnerable state, and, while those are the fundamentals, there’s even more to consider. Mastering these mechanics is simple enough, but stringing the manoeuvres together into flawless combos takes a bit of practice, making it super satisfying when you eventually get it down.

There’s a decent amount of content here to boot, with 23 cars (which are purely an aesthetic choice) and 21 tracks (some of which are rehashes) playable across the 5 event types to keep your 20 or so hour journey towards the Hall of Fame mostly engaging.

When you also take into consideration the pleasant visuals and fun local multiplayer, available in cooperative and competitive varieties, Cars 3: Driven to Win is a surprisingly comprehensive game. It doesn’t do anything particularly innovative, and falls short in some areas, but is still a very solid example of its genre, which is far more than most film tie-ins can boast.


+ Fun arcade racing for all ages
+ Accessible with a degree of depth
+ Event variety maintains interest
+ Lots of content to keep you busy
+ A film tie-in that doesn’t rest on its license...


- … But doesn’t offer much fan service as a result
- Thomasville Playground mode is poor
- Recycled tracks



Driven to Win is an easy completion, though the 20 hour grind will take a bit of commitment. There are a few local multiplayer Skill Checks that are required for Hall of Famer, so you'll need a second controller, but you can easily claim them playing alone (no second person required).


Originally written for Pass the Controller, a copy was provided for the purpose of this review.

You can check out my PlayStation reviews over at TrueTrophies.

Thanks for reading!
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215,793 (130,092)
TA Score for this game: 1,909
Posted on 05 October 17 at 00:39
This review has 2 positive votes and 2 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Originally Posted at

Movie-tie in games used to be extremely frequent. Over the years, players have been treated to superb titles like 2004’s Spider-Man 2 or 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but in recent years, the movies that could’ve had tie-in games have instead had special events or DLC added in celebration of the film. So imagine my surprise to find out Cars 3 was getting a separate console tie-in game. Even if its existence itself is a surprise, the bigger surprise is that Cars 3: Driven to Win has enough gas in the tank to be enjoyable.

In Cars 3: Driven to Win, Lightning McQueen is in a simulator at a show hosted by his former racing rival Chick Hicks. Hicks challenges McQueen to a race between himself, Cruz Ramirez, and newcomer Jackson Storm. Aside from quick cutscenes to introduce 4 landmark events, that is all the story on offer. On the bright side, that means the movie is left unspoiled, but the story is not in the game’s interest, instead, it is all about getting to the tracks.

Once you are on the tracks the gameplay throws a lot at you right away, but after a few races feel simple. Aside from accelerating and braking; drifting, driving on two wheels, performing stunts in mid-air and driving in reverse are your primary actions in the game. The drifting, stunts and specialized driving will also fill a turbo meter that can be used in multiple boosts or in one prolonged boost that allows you to run over other competitors. Combined, these mechanics place Cars 3: Driven to Win squarely into the arcade spectrum of racers.

Throughout your racing career, there are 21 tracks to unlock and play in 5 different modes, plus one more open area where players can drive around however they please. Some of the tracks on offer are recycled from Cars 2, and a few of the new tracks look like duplicates, but with repositioned finish lines. Even so, there’s plenty of racing to be had, as the modes are more varied than the tracks. You can choose to do a normal race, a battle race (which makes Cars 3 feel like a Mario Kart clone), a Stunt Showcase which sees cars performing aerial tricks, Takedown which encourages wanton destruction against dummy cars, and Best Lap Challenge, which encourages players to shave more seconds off their best laps. Lastly, there is a playground player’s can visit with no preset goals to complete. If they want, players can drive around without any cares. There are challenges to complete here as well though. It’s also a great stress-free practice area but sheds a light on how difficult a more open game would’ve been.

There’s also no shortage of characters you can choose to race as, with 23 characters represented. A couple of them are re-skinned characters (Mater the Greater and Fabulous Lightning McQueen), but they all have a personality and voice acting provided by most of the cast from the film. At the end of each event, characters will offer commentary based on the events of the race. Even so, there aren’t a lot of voice clips for each situation and they repeat long before all the modes have been exhausted. Most curiously is that there are no stats given to the player about how each character may perform. No notion of how they accelerate, handle corners, nothing of the sort. However, despite this, some characters do feel as though they play differently. Guido, a small forklift, can corner much more easily than Ms Fritter, a demolition-loving school bus. But for some of the other cars, it will be less noticeable what the differences are.

Environments are nicely detailed, with textures giving a nice sense of what it is you are passing by, but Cars 3: Driven to Win is not reference material. The characters themselves are given more care and are well animated. With this releasing on newer consoles as well as their older siblings, the graphics on display overall would’ve been normal only a few years ago at the launch of the Xbox One and PS4. Now they are merely serviceable.

Sound effects crackle and explode with little regard for subtly, which is intensely highlighted during the Takedown challenges. The music of Cars 3: Driven to Win bears no resemblance to the orchestral soundtrack of the film created by Randy Newman. Instead, upbeat but unmemorable tunes are blasted. These tunes also fit the tones of the tracks themselves with those in the country featuring banjo, while one in Italy features a Mediterranean inspired flair. The music works and suits the game, but will be forgotten the moment the game is off.

Cars 3: Driven to Win does feature multiplayer for each of the tracks and game modes, including a strictly multiplayer mode where players choose sponsors from the movie to race for and compete against AI or against each other. However, multiplayer here is only a local affair, since the game offers no online multiplayer. The lack of online multiplayer is a surprise given the ubiquity online multiplayer has but isn’t a deal breaker.


Cars 3: Driven to Win isn’t designed with adults in mind, but is still enjoyable regardless of age. It doesn’t aspire to be a great game, and yet doesn’t approach the depths of ne’er-do-well titles. If ever there was a title deserving of the term “average”, this is it. Most notable is that like many titles aimed at a younger audience, it does a fantastic job of introducing new gamers to fundamental concepts in other racers. In that regard, Cars 3: Driven to Win is a fantastic crash course in how most other racers operate without having to worry about how to optimize cars.
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