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With 'Cars 2' game, Pixar's DNA is abundant

While many films and their related video games actually have very little in common, the game version of Pixar's latest release was developed in concert with the movie.

Pixar shared much of the design content from its forthcoming Cars 2 film with the developers at Avalanche Software who made the related video game. This is the character of Holley Shiftwell from the game. Disney/Pixar

Michael Caine would probably forgive you if you couldn't tell the difference between the video game version of his "Cars 2" character, Finn McMissile, and the sleek, sauve master spy car he plays in the forthcoming Pixar film.

On June 24, Pixar will release the sequel to its 2006 hit "Cars." This time, however, rather than following the story of a hot rod lost in a small town, the film is a James Bond-esque spy thriller complete with endless action sequences in stunning locales the world over.

But first, Avalanche Software is putting out Cars 2: The Video Game, and is hoping that those who both see the movie and play the game (available on all major gaming consoles and on the PC) will not sense any loss of story line.

Indeed, according to Jon Warner, a senior producer at Avalanche--which is part of Disney Interactive Studios, and therefore related to Pixar, which is owned by Disney--the game is a clear extension of the movie.

"We worked with Pixar to make the game an authentic addition to the film universe," Warner said. "When you come home from the theater and play the game, you'll feel like you've stepped back into that familiar world."

This is Holley Shiftwell in a publicity image from the Cars 2 Web site. Disney/Pixar

Technically, the events chronicled in the game come after those in the new Pixar movie, Warner explained. But that doesn't mean players won't get to race around in some of the highly detailed locations created by Pixar's artists. In fact, Warner said, players will get to enter the same secret-agent training school that the film's characters attended, "and go on a quest to become an international superspy."

Often when developers make a game based on a big movie, they're working for a company that's totally independent from the production company that made the film. But the Avalanche and Pixar teams were in very close contact throughout the making of the film and game, starting with Avalanche's presentation of its initial game concept, and continuing through Pixar's review of the game script, animations, and level designs.

Indeed, because of that close collaboration and because Disney has its hands in both the "Cars 2" film and the game, it was easy for Avalanche and Pixar to work together, and that helped Warner and his team ensure the aesthetics of the two projects didn't diverge too much.

"We were fortunate enough to receive all of the character models and textures from Pixar," Warner said. "We also got regular drops of concept art and finished renders so we could accurately emulate the look and feel of the movie."