Cars 2 is now officially the worst-reviewed Pixar film of all time, destroying what was once a spotless reputation for producing brilliant family films.
Thankfully, such a reputation for Pixar film tie-ins on iPhone doesn’t exist to be spoiled, mainly because previous titles have been more throwaway apps than full-blown games.
I can’t tell you whether Cars 2: The Game is better or worse than its maligned celluloid brother - principally because I haven't seen it - but I can tell you that it’s not worth pulling over to investigate.Restart your engines
Picking from one of the four main stars of the film (who all handle the same), you jump, double-jump, and swear across 24 side-scrolling levels spread over three dull-looking locations - an oil-rig, Tokyo, and London.
Acceleration is handled for you, so your task effectively boils down to leaping over obstacles like tyres, traffic cones, and wrecking balls as you hurtle towards the finish line.
There are also bottomless pits to contend with, though given the zoomed-in nature of the view, it can be hard recognising the safe drops from the dangerous ones.
Every level is packed to the gills with tiny collectibles and power-ups, both of which contribute to your score and turbo boost your car. Incidentally, picking up said items makes one of the most annoying sounds you’re going to hear all week, so we recommend setting the volume to silent.
Should you collect enough of these in-game objects - and Cars 2 never tells you what that amount is - then you’ll achieve the maximum grade of three stars for the level, although there’s very little chance you’ll return to improve your score anyway.Crash and burn
This is because Cars 2 just feels a bit cheap and slightly flimsy - more Lada than Lamborghini.
For instance, there’s been some thought put into making the levels interesting by adding multiple routes, but then the designers blow it by turning certain routes into deathtraps that can’t be circumnavigated without exploding.
The jumping feels floaty and underpowered, completely reliant on the double-jump to overcome even the smallest obstacle. The final location’s levels, meanwhile, are so frustrating - with obscenely large gaps that require both memorisation, pixel-perfect timing, and luck - that I’d be surprised if any of the game’s target audience will play them without then experiencing a severe case of road rage.
There’s also little reward for beating a stage: no movie trailers to unlock as with Despicable Me, or any little nuggets of info about the films that fans would like to read about.Top secret
Even more galling, there isn’t even an attempt to say what the game / film is about, other than you’re playing as vehicles that appear to be secret agents.
Which leaves Cars 2 in a bit of a pickle. It’s not good enough to appeal to non-fans of the film, but at the same time doesn’t offer devotees much else other than a series of disconnected platform levels and a few (heavily compressed) speech samples from the main characters.
The only positive is that, unlike the film, it hasn’t tarnished Pixar’s iPhone gaming reputation.