Based on Pixar's computer animated film, Cars 2: The Video Game follows the exploits of car characters Lightning McQueen and Mater as they train in a secret facility known as CHROME, short for Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage. They are joined by Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell as they attempt to become the car-equivalent of spies.
Up to 4 players can race in the game, which players can choose from more than 20 different characters and train to become world class spies. As part of their international training, players can participate in simulated hazardous missions using high-tech gadgets to evade and slow down adversaries.
Cars 2 also features connectivity with the World of Cars Online – a free-to-play browser-based, virtual world based on the hit Pixar animated Cars universe. Players are able to discover a new world beyond Radiator Springs with Mater, Fillmore, Sarge, and others as they gain rewards in the video game and then use them to unlock new items in the World of Cars Online. It was suitable for children with ages from 9-17. It doesn't work now, because the World of Cars Online closed.
On the Nintendo DS, the game had a different gameplay. First, the player starts racing as Lightning McQueen in the Piston Cup. If the player wins and gets a Piston Cup, they move to the next event.
- Mater: Larry the Cable Guy
- Lightning McQueen: Keith Ferguson
- Finn McMissile: Michael Caine
- Holley Shiftwell: Emily Mortimer
- Miles Axlerod: Eddie Izzard
- Professor Z: Thomas Kretschmann
- Grem: Joe Mantegna
- Acer: Peter Jacobson
- Guido: Guido Quaroni
- Luigi: Tony Shalhoub
- Sarge: Paul Dooley
- Fillmore: Lloyd Sherr
- Carla Veloso: Jossara Jinaro
- Raoul ÇaRoule: Unknown
- Shu Todoroki: Erik Passoja
- Nigel Gearsley: Greg Ellis
- Francesco Bernoulli: John Turturro
- Jeff Gorvette: Jeff Gordon
- Miguel Camino: Unknown
- Max Schnell: Unknown
- Tomber: Michel Michelis
- Victor Hugo: Stanley Townsend
- Vladimir Trunkov: Stanley Townsend
- Chuki: Sonoko Konishi
- Sushi Chef: Daisuke "Dice" Tsutsumi
- The Queen: Vanessa Redgrave
- Rod "Torque" Redline: Bruce Campbell
- Uncle Topolino: Franco Nero
- Ramone: Cheech Marin
- Flo: Jenifer Lewis
- Sheriff: Michael Wallis
- Chick Hicks: Michael Keaton
- Boost: Jonas Rivera
- DJ: E.J. Holowicki
- Wingo: Adrian Ochoa
- Snot Rod: Lou Romano
- Tokyo cars: Hira Ambrosino
Avalanche Software was working in close collaboration with Pixar artists to bring the humor and personality of the feature film to life. "Cars is one of Pixar's most successful and treasured franchises, so we are thrilled to be working with Avalanche Software again to extend our creative vision of the Cars 2 universe into the interactive medium," said Jay Ward, Cars franchise guardian at Pixar Animation Studios. "Avalanche Software has the technology, experience, and history in working with us to create the best-looking Cars video game to date. The team at Avalanche Software is working on exciting ways to combine the power of the franchise with new storylines and characters in Cars 2: The Video Game to create something unlike any other racing game," said John Blackburn, vice president and general manager of Avalanche Software. "The combination of racing, international locations and spy themes, and the beloved Cars characters makes Cars 2: The Video Game a truly unique game for players of all ages and skill levels to enjoy."
The title has received positive reviews, with a score of 76 on Metacritic for the Xbox 360 version. IGN gave the title a 8 out of 10 rating. Stating that "Cars 2 is a great multiplayer game that rivals Mario Kart. Playing alone isn’t quite as fun, but it’s still a solid solo experience. The fact that there’s little story doesn’t really matter because you won’t miss it, and don’t let the license scare you off. Under all the Pixar beauty is an extremely fun game." The Official Xbox Magazine gave it a 7.5 out of 10 rating. Praising fun and polished racing but criticizing the fact that online play was missing from the title. GameInformer gave the title a 7.75 out of 10 rating, calling it a satisfying racing experience.
Christopher Healy on Common Sense Media awarded the game 5 stars, and called it "Great combat racing, but loads of gunfire and explosions.", stating "The mix of spy-gadget combat and fast-paced racing action in Cars 2: The Video Game is a really cool way to translate the secret agent theme of the Cars 2 film into video game form. While the fighting aspect feels a bit intense for young kids, it's presented in a way that is easy to pick up and incredibly fun and exciting for players who are old enough to handle it.
The game looks and plays great. There are loads of ways to earn nitro boosts during a race -- jumps, stunts, backward driving, taking out opponents, etc. -- and using those boosts for last-minute surges to the finish line can be wildly suspenseful. There's a nice big selection of cars from the get-go, and by the end, you'll have a staggering amount of characters to choose from. Multiplayer is a blast, too (even if, perhaps, a bit too literally)."
- In the developer diaries, a few of the "cameras" were labeled "Camera A113."
- A plug-n-play version of the game by Jakks Pacific was also released.
- Some cars reuse their recording in Cars: Fast as Lightning.