young whipper snappers out there take a seat and Ill tell you a tale.
Back in the days before every home in America had at least one videogame
console, we had to find other ways to entertain ourselves. Hot Wheels,
and pretty much any other type of toy cars, were the toys of choice for
little boys and we would spend entire afternoons playing in imaginary
cities. Hot Wheels are still sold today, and from what Ive seen there
are just as many adults snapping up limited edition Hot Wheels to add to
their collections as there are little kids who play with them at
playgrounds all around the country. Hot Wheels Velocity X is the latest
game to combine these toys with videogames. Sadly, not only does it fail
to bring back fond memories of my youth, but Velocity X fails to offer
good enough gameplay to keep the youngsters in the 128-bit generation
interested for very long.
X seems like it is having an identity crisis from the very start. The
Hot Wheels cars, cartoonish looking characters, and simple story are all
things that scream, "Im a kids game!" On the other hand, the controls
are flat-out horrible and the cars handle like bricks sliding across
sandpaper. Also, the game is surprisingly difficult due in no small part
to the crappy controls. I got fed up with the controls and repetitive
gameplay rather quickly, so I cant imagine how todays impatient youth
are going to enjoy it at all.
The story in Velocity X is pretty goofy and the characters would
definitely fit right into a Saturday morning cartoon. You are Max
Justice, a hotshot drag racer and an expert private investigator,
apparently. As Max, you have to track down the fiends who stole the top
secret Velocity X formula. Yawn.
story mode, there are many different objectives youll have to complete
in each of the different environments. Most of the objectives are simply
getting from point A to point B, but there are battles with other cars,
item collection, and protecting other cars. There are a few races thrown
in for good measure too. These same objectives keep repeating over and
over again as you make your way through the story mode. The levels are
littered with ramps and loops and even half pipes, but youll see
everything the stunt system has to offer after just a few minutes. After
a while, it starts to feel incredibly repetitive. The fact that there
are only five levels to explore doesnt help much either. Some of the
objectives are quite difficult to complete, but the reason for the
difficulty isnt cunning AI but rather poor controls and a seemingly
retarded navigation system.
First off, the navigation system. Like most games that have you
freely exploring an environment, the way you find out where you need to
go is by following an arrow that appears onscreen. In Velocity X, the
arrow offers its best guess rather than a definite direction for you to
travel. Within a span of ten seconds, the arrow will point in five
different directions and when you actually start driving in the
direction it finally settled on, chances are it will start moving around
wildly again. When the arrow seems to be working right, it is far too
slow to help you make the correct turns.
controls are another factor that makes Velocity X much more difficult
than it has any right to be. The cars simply do not turn sharp enough if
you are going any faster than about 10 M.P.H. There is a handbrake
available, like almost all racing games, but using it doesnt make you
power slide at all. The only way to make it around corners is to either
slow down to a crawl before you reach the turn or just plow through and
smack into the walls. Battling other cars is made extremely difficult
because almost all of the weapons fire straight ahead of your car and it
is very difficult to actually line another car up so you can make a
shot. The stiff controls ruin what would otherwise be a fun game.
There are 33 cars in Velocity X that are all copies of real life Hot
Wheels cars. It is kind of cool when you can race with the same cars
that you have actually owned. The cars all look pretty decent and it is
a real thrill to unlock a new car that you actually recognize.
X is pretty bland looking and often gives you feelings of deja vu as you
explore one similar looking level after another. The cars are detailed
enough that you can tell what real life cars they are modeled after, but
some more detailed textures would have made them look much better. The
cars feature real time damage and crumple up nicely when they have taken
too much abuse. Special effects for weapons look decent, but aside from
some impressive explosions arent anything to write home about. Overall,
the game simply looks old. The graphics are adequate, and thats it.
The sound in Velocity X us unspectacular at best. All of the cars
share the same exact engine noise and it seems downright odd to me that
a decked-out hot rod can sound exactly like a pickup truck or even a
school bus. The music is forgettable enough that even as I write this I
cant really remember if there was any music in the game at all. The
sound effects for weapons and crashes should sound familiar to anyone
that has played a sub-par racing game in the last ten years. The sound
is uniformly lackluster and works with the plain-jane graphics to create
a game environment that can only be described as average.
Hot Wheels Velocity X features average graphics and sounds but is
dragged down because of its extremely poor controls and repetitive
gameplay. There are several games that do car combat, racing, and
exploration a whole lot better than Velocity X so I would encourage you
to check those out instead of wasting your time with this one. If your
curiosity overwhelms you, you can do worse than waste away an evening
with Velocity X, but with so many great games out right now why would
you want to? Rent it first if you absolutely must play it or wait for it
to appear in the bargain bin in a couple of months.