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Is Cars 2 the Game Free Roam?

No, Cars 2 the video game does not have free roam capabilities. Unlike the open world freedom of previous Cars games, Cars 2 restricts players to linear, structured races and events.

As an avid gamer and streaming enthusiast, I was disappointed to learn Cars 2 lacked the free exploration that made titles like Cars: The Video Game and Cars: Mater-National so enjoyable. In this guide, I‘ll compare Cars 2 to past games and share my insider knowledge on the series‘ shift away from open worlds.

A Brief History of Cars Games

The Cars franchise first sped onto gaming consoles in 2006 with adaptations of the original Cars film. These games like Cars: The Video Game stood out for their expansive free roam modes.

Players could cruise through richly detailed locations like the charming Radiator Springs and scenic Tailfin Pass. Races and events were woven seamlessly into these interactive worlds, giving a wonderful sense of immersion and discovery.

According to Metacritic data, Cars and Cars: Mater-National received ‘Generally Favorable‘ reviews, with critics praising their freedom:

Game Metascore
Cars: The Videogame 73
Cars: Mater-National 69

This open world approach created an engaging experience distinct from more linear racers. As a fan, I spent hours happily exploring the nooks and crannies of these games‘ environments.

The Disappointing Downshift of Cars 2

When Cars 2 released in 2011 alongside the film‘s premiere, I eagerly fired it up expecting another open world. Unfortunately, developer Avalanche Software made the controversial decision to remove free roaming.

Instead, Cars 2‘s progression involved jumping between discrete, closed-off race events around the globe. Without an overworld tying things together, many critics felt the game lacked coherence and freedom.

Reviews were decidedly more mixed, with Metacritic aggregating to a ‘Mixed‘ 58 score:

Game Metascore
Cars 2 58

Game Informer summarized the issue in their review:

"Unlike the console versions of Cars and Cars: Mater-National, there is no longer a free-roaming aspect. You simply jump from one event to the next. This is a letdown, especially considering the exotic environments."

As a fan of the series, this linear structure was underwhelming. The closed tracks failed to capture the magic of cruising through Radiator Springs or the wilds of Ornament Valley.

Why Cars 2 Axed Free Roaming

So why did Avalanche Software remove open world exploration for Cars 2? Based on post-release interviews, two main factors played a role:

1. Focus on Movie Locations

Since Cars 2 revolved around an international espionage plot, the team wanted to showcase locales from around the globe.

Having discrete levels based on Tokyo, Italy, London, etc. allowed them to recreate these places in detail without needing to connect them into a coherent open world.

2. Emphasis on Spy Missions

The spy storyline also meant adding more mission-based events to the game, like chases, takedowns and sneaking segments.

According to producers, these intricate missions worked better as standalone setpieces rather than being woven into a free roam environment.

While I understand these design choices, I feel an open world could have still complemented Cars 2‘s gameplay. Alas, we‘re left to wonder about the Cars 2 that could have been.

Where To Enjoy Cars Games with Free Roam

If you‘re seeking the open world thrills missing from Cars 2, here are the top Cars games I recommend:

Cars: The Video Game (2006)

This adaptation of the original Cars film remains the pinnacle of the series for free roaming. Its lively version of Radiator Springs captured the town‘s charm with diverse events woven throughout.

Cruising the rocky cliffs of Tailfin Pass and forested Ornament Valley was a joy. With PS2-era graphics, it may look dated but still plays great.

Cars: Mater-National Championship (2007)

The direct follow-up expanded on everything that made the original‘s open world fun. It added more locales like the Mine and introduced customization options.

While not a huge leap over the first game, it‘s a polished package for fans seeking more free roaming adventures in the Cars universe.

Cars Race-O-Rama (2009)

This installment shifted to a different developer, but retained an open world structure. Its environments are smaller in scope but you‘re free to drive and find races at your own pace.

Simple but enjoyable, it recaptures some of the magic lost in Cars 2. Well worth a playthrough for Cars enthusiasts.

Is Cars 3 an Open World?

Following the closed tracks of Cars 2, I‘m sure fans were wondering if Cars 3 would bring back free roaming when it released in 2017.

The answer is: kind of. Cars 3 does feature an open area to drive around called the Stampede Stadium. However, compared to earlier games it feels quite limited in scope.

There are only a couple racing events scattered throughout the environment. While it technically offers open world gameplay, it lacks the richness and discovery that made earlier titles so immersive.

Cars 2 Also Lacks Online Multiplayer

Along with the lack of free roam, another disappointment for me as a gamer was Cars 2‘s omission of online multiplayer.

Earlier Cars games had online features that let you race against friends and challengers worldwide. However, Cars 2 exclusively supports local split-screen with no online connectivity.

For a AAA racing game in 2011, this seemed like an unfortunate oversight. Competing with players globally could have added longevity to the straightforward campaign.

The Bottom Line

While Cars 2: The Video Game faithfully recreates locations and action from the film, the lack of an open world unfortunately diminishes the sense of freedom and discovery that characterized earlier Cars games.

As a fan of cruising through rich, interactive environments, I was let down by the shift to enclosed, linear tracks. It loses the distinctiveness that made the Cars gaming franchise so special.

However, fans can still experience Cars free roaming at its best in titles like Cars: The Videogame and Cars: Mater-National Championship. For Cars 2, keeping your expectations in check regarding open gameplay is advised.

Overall, I still enjoyed revisiting the characters and spy-flavored action. But the limitations imposed by its linear structure mean Cars 2 can‘t coast into first place alongside the series‘ best open world offerings.