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Cars 2 Wii tries hard to offer something for everyone. While the kart racing compelled family gamers, more experienced players were less convinced next to hardcore Karting of Activision's Blur.
Although services like Metacritic and Game Rankings would have us believe otherwise, our experience of a particular game is a very personal thing. One person may connect to a game while another person finds abhorrent -- or just a little boring.
Gaming with a family often puts you in a minority of players, and means that the aggregated score (that largely represents core-focused reviewers) doesn't actually tell the full story.
Cars 2 is an interesting case in point. It has an average score on Meta-critic (other aggregators are available) of 57, with a massive range from 90 to 25.
Leaving aside the whole "game scores are broken" idea, from these numbers it's hard to know whether this is going to be a game your family will love or hate. Of course you can trawl through the different reviews and come to your own conclusions from the various lyrical reviews - but each review is written in isolation and not engaged with other opinions.
So, this family gaming review of Cars 2 is an alternative way of doing things -- as open letter to videogame aggregators. Rather than just playing the game myself, making notes of its successes and failures and writing my review in isolation, three different families have been playing the game and reporting back about their experiences.
For the uninitiated, Cars 2 is (unsurprisingly) the videogame spin-off from the recent Pixar movie of the same name. Unlike other spin-off games though, this is more a game in its own right and focuses on its kart racing experience rather than rehearsing the film's narrative in game form.
Only two of the families had seen the movie, but this didn't seem to matter hugely. All of the families had a general understanding of the Cars characters and could quickly understand how they worked in the game. Those who had seen the film did comment on some nice touches that reminded them of the film - and for younger players in particular this seemed to be an added bonus.
Each of the families approached the game differently.
It was interesting to see how each of the families approached the game differently. While those with older children spent a considerable time playing through the single player modes, unlocking things and generally working towards completing it, younger families seemed to favour the multiplayer.
It was the children in each family that instigated this difference. Playing the game together via the four player split-screen mode was popular with all the parents, but the older children were drawn more to individual playtime where they could dictate how they played it -- rather than playing with mum and dad.
All the families commented on the similarities between Cars 2 multiplayer and Mario Kart. While this attracted the younger children to play, there were some offspring (those more into gaming) who complained that it was like a kiddie version of Blur -- the game from Activision that combined kart racing and real cars.
Some common negatives from all the families were that the main game didn't last long enough, and that compared to the 360/PS3 versions the Wii graphics were a little less impressive and slowed down sometimes. The fact that the Wii had less graphical horsepower in the first place (as I explained in some cases) didn't placate this issue.
Some complained it was like a kiddie version of Blur.
The younger children who had played the first Cars videogame on the Wii, and the Cars Race-o-rama follow up, were disappointed that there wasn't more open-world exploration gameplay here.
Drawing this together, Cars 2 did well at catering for a broad range of family gamers with its different modes and didn't rely too heavily on its movie branding. While it won over Mario Kart players, core gamers were less convinced.
All the families appreciated the fact that this was the same game on the Wii as on the bigger consoles - rather than a derivative port as used to be common.
Cars 2 is definitely a 7.53.
Maybe I should have got each family to score the game on different criteria. Hopefully though, engaging these different views with each other in this fashion has painted a better picture of the game than a number at the bottom of the page. That said, Cars 2 is definitely a 7.53.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: