HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED 2 – Turbocharged review for PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PlayStation

Platform: PC
Also on: Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Milestone
Developer: Milestone
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cartridge
Players: 1-12
Online: Yes

It should come as no surprise that Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged is a pretty solid racing game. After all, it was developed and published by Milestone, the studio that basically exists to make racing games, and it comes on the heels of the first Hot Wheels Unleashed, which was pretty decent in its own right. With that kind of base, it would’ve been hard to mess anything up – and, of course, it doesn’t.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t notable areas where Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 couldn’t improve – and that starts with the same area where the first Hot Wheels Unleashed could’ve improved, which was that the whole game often felt like one big ad. Not for Hot Wheels, mind you (though it obviously is that), but rather, it regularly feels like the game – you know, the one that you’ve already spent money on – can’t stop trying to push you to spend even more.

Like the cars in the game? “They’re fine and all,” it often feels like the game is saying, “but you’ll like these paid DLC packs even more, since they’re so much better than the ones in the base game.” The same goes for the tracks: there may be a healthy number of tracks to race through in the story mode, but the game really wants you to know that there are expansions to buy that’ll get you even more tracks.

Of course, the obvious solution is just to buy both of the game’s season passes – a steal at a mere $10 more than the price of the game. With a bargain like that, who wouldn’t want to effectively pay for the game twice? (That’s sarcasm, in case you need it spelled out.)

Setting aside the issue of DLC, it’s important to note that if you’re buying Hot Wheels Unleashed 2, you shouldn’t buy it with any expectation of racing online. There’s virtually no multiplayer base to speak of, so all those extra dollars you spend will be strictly for solo play.

The good news is that Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 offers a pretty fun single-player experience. There’s a lengthy story mode that allows you to zip through a nice variety of tracks and challenges, so rather than just doing race after race, there are also time trials and eliminator races to test your mettle. And, since this is Milestone, the cars handle well and you face just the right amount of challenge from the AI racers (which is good because, again, online is more or less dead).

But it’s hard to recommend Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 without acknowledging that big DLC-shaped elephant in the corner. It’s not as bad as, say, the NBA 2K series or any others like it that are effectively pay-to-win, but it’s enough that it could put a damper on your enjoyment of an otherwise fun game. That said, if you can ignore the DLC push and just want a flashy racer, this will deliver on that.

Milestone provided us with a HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED 2 – Turbocharged PC code for review purposes.

Grade: 7