[PlayStation 5] HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED Review

by the_nmac

Hot Wheels is back on consoles. Are you ready to race across the finish line in style? Then check out our HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED review!

Collect the best vehicles in the Hot Wheels universe, build spectacular tracks and dive into breathtaking races.

The most iconic and sought after Hot Wheels vehicles are waiting for you. Get ready to make them race at full speed!
Stand out in the crowd by setting off your personality with the exclusive livery editor.

Prove your skills by competing in awesome races and get ready for pure fun! Drift, charge the booster and launch yourself into spectacular loops. But be careful! If you’re too slow gravity will do its job.

The bigger the challenge, the greater the glory.
Race side by side with your friends in split screen mode for 2 players or face up to 12 opponents in online challenges.

Waiting to host your races are enormous interactive environments with their own distinguishing features, where every object can become an integral part of the track.

Unleash your creativity with the most exciting track editor ever! Build your track by taking advantage of what surrounds you, and create amazing layouts inside and outside the race course. Bend and stretch the iconic “orange piece,” add loops, special boosters, obstacles and special elements to make an incredible amusement park for your races.
Share your craziest creations online and try those of other players.

Furnish your own personal room with a huge number of elements that you will collect during your adventure and host the most amazing races inside it.

I’ve reviewed a ton of racing games over the past few years because it’s a genre I fully enjoy. That being said, when I see a licensed racing game, I sometimes do worry since there have been some that failed to hit their mark. So when HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED on PlayStation 5 landed for review, I was curious but cautious about what this experience would offer. The good news is that as soon as my car’s tires hit the plastic track, it all clicked.

HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED is an arcade-style racer, which means it’s a fast-paced experience that doesn’t land on the sim side of the genre. For this one, you’re going to have to do some proper boost management while racing. Depending on your car of choice it will have a different type or amount of boost. One is a long meter for you to use at your discretion, while the other is a boost that won’t last for long, but for which you can stock multiples. As you race, they will fill up slowly, but when you drift, they will fill up at a faster pace. I found myself drifting a ton anyways, so I would constantly be looking at the best ways to utilize my boost in the best spots on each track. The tracks also have boost pads, roadblocks, fans, and even boost strips which help to fill your boost meter.


I do want to mention that I was blown away by the design of each track. To be as true to the Hot Wheels we all know and love, everything looks ripped right out of a kid’s toy shelf. All of the tracks look like what you would have dreamed up as a kid. Sure, you’ll have standard tracks that have simple curves, but as you progress further in the game, you’ll have loops, metal tracks that you stick to in order to climb up walls and race on the ceiling, things to try and stop you like a spider that will web you, or a fire breathing dragon. There will be branching paths to spice things up. Each of the tracks is located in different areas, from your basement to a skyscraper, a skatepark, or a garage.

HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED gives you a Career Mode called Hot Wheels City Rumble. You have a Hot Wheels play mat with races all over it that, once completed, will open up more potential races. It’s a pretty good setup with some good variety. You’ll have your standard three-lap races as you aim to get to the finish line in first place, sprint races that are one long lap, time trails where you need to hit a target time, and either a standard or an unleashed goal.


There are also a few boss fight pads, which feature different giant Hot Wheels sets and will put a variety of obstacles on the tracks. The pterodactyl had tornados that would go back and forth across the tracks, pick you up and spin you around. A scorpion would shoot venom on the track, and if you ran over it, your boost would be temporarily shut off. A snow monster would have ice on the track that freezes your wheels, making turning a problem for a bit. There are also some secret spaces that you need to solve riddles to unlock. Some are easy to decipher, featuring the name of the track and the specific car you need to use on it, while others are more cryptic. Finally, there are some prize pads that feature some cosmetic options and blind boxes.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about the blind boxes. You can earn them while playing City Rumble or buy them for 500 coins with the in-game currency. Each box contains a car in it with different stats and boost. There are a plethora of choices featuring Common, Rare, Legendary, Secret, and Super Treasure Hunt cars. You have a ton of choices here. If you get multiples – and you will – you can sell duplicates for more coins to, in turn, buy more blind boxes or turn them into gears to spend on upgrading your vehicles. HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED has some licensed cars featuring the Batmobile, KITT, the TMNT Party Wagon, Snoopy, and more. I even unlocked the Delorean from Back to the Future!

There are some creation tools, which is always great news for a racing game. There is an option to fully customize the non-licensed cars with a variety of materials, colors, and stickers on them. I customized several cars with my kids, and we had a blast really making them. You can search other people’s creations that they have shared, so you can expect to find some really cool and unique designs as the community for HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED continues to grow.


There is also a track creator that allows you to create the custom course of your dreams. As you play City Rumble, you’ll unlock more pieces for the track creator, allowing you to expand and customize your creation even further. You can spend hours in the track creator as you fine-tune your tracks to make them feel just right.

I do want to mention that the game is gorgeous on PlayStation 5. All of the cars have the plastic or metal shine you’d expect from them, looking like their toy counterparts. The models are even more detailed when you get a chance to look at them up close! My wife spent some time by my side while I was playing since she just wanted to take it all in and marvel at my car collection. The game runs smoothly at 60 FPS, which is excellent news for a racer. As for the DualSense integration, it uses the haptics and the adaptive triggers really well, which racing games tend to do. My only complaint is the music since it feels a bit generic. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s the one weak element for this game.


HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED is a really fun racing game with a great arcade feel that has everything looking like the real Hot Wheels experience. There’s a ton of things to do, dozens of cars to unlock, and even the option to build your own experience as you create the tracks of your dreams. HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED is out on September 30 with a $49.99 price, and it’s one I recommend you check out on PlayStation 5.

This HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Milestone.

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