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Genre: Action
Min OS X: 10.3    CPU: G4 @ 1200 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 500 MB    8x CD-ROM    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Cars: The Videogame
September 11, 2006 | Bryan Clodfelter

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Minor quibbles aside, there are certain significant flaws that affected Cars’ final score.

First, Cars ships on two CDs, and requires the second disk inserted to play (which is fine). However, when you try to open the game without a CD, the game displays a dialog box asking you for the “playdisk,” which obviously gives no indication of which disc you need to insert. Further, saving and loading games requires you to select and confirm your profile multiple times, which is annoying and not at all intuitive for a game targeted at younger children. Finally, versus play is essentially unavailable due to the fact that Cars does not seem to recognize anything but a select set of gamepads. When I plugged in a second (and even a third) keyboard, Cars still did not allow me to access the multiplayer feature, and the manual was completely unhelpful. In general, the interface feels a bit clunky, which is further compounded by the lack of proper mouse support.

Navigation around Radiator Springs is easy enough, but gameplay is marred by a lack of a well-placed explanation of the map system (located on the bottom left of the screen). The critical bit of information—the fact that new events are represented as white dots—is hidden on page seven of the manual, and unfortunately, most users will wind up blundering around Radiator Springs and its surroundings for a long time before they crack open the manual (if ever). Another issue that slightly marred the gameplay score was the tendency of the camera to get seriously knocked out of alignment by severe impacts between the player’s vehicle and other objects. This can be temporarily fixed by repeatedly cycling through the various views offered by hitting the keypad 5 key, but should not be happening in the first place.

To round out the list of criticisms, Cars exhibits several minor graphical bugs. On my dual processor G5 equipped with an ATI Radeon X800XT and a relatively recent installation of Mac OS X Tiger, Mack’s eyelids splintered and flickered constantly (important, as this character is the focus of several cutscenes). The boost gauge never displayed its status correctly in the story mode, and enabling FSAA with the ATI Displays preference pane introduced a very long delay (which, at first glance, looked like the game locked up) when opening the application, and again when loading a game or entering a new region of Radiator Springs.

The Final Verdict
Cars is one of the few licensed games ever to hit the market that can actually compete with mainstream titles based on its quality alone. Even more surprising than the fact that the game made it to the Mac is the fact that it is only available as a Macintosh/Windows hybrid set. Regardless, bolstered by an interesting story, simple (yet pleasurable) racing action, and a variety of mini-games, Cars achieves its goal of furthering the Cars experience that began at the theater. As a bonus, the game manages to broadcast a wide enough appeal that may even engage older siblings and parents, and should be a viable addition to the collection of any budding Mac gamer.

  • Storyline consistent to the Cars movie
  • Simple, yet pleasant racing physics for all ages
  • Features original voice actors from the film
  • (Mostly) fun mini-games
  • Relatively light system requirements

  • Rubber-banded AI may leave skilled players unsatisfied
  • Clunky user interface
  • Multiplayer mode is largely incompatible with anything short of a gamepad
  • Textures don’t hold up under close scrutiny
  • Minor graphics and gameplay glitches

Cars: The Videogame
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