MySims Racing (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew
If you considered The Sims a successful franchise then the My Sims range has taken the concept to the next level. Originally launched to allow EA to take on a variety of genres, the series has already featured Parties and Kingdoms and, later in the year, we are to be treated to Agents. The racing genre is a popular one though and while the DS has its fair share of serious racers it also has a number of franchises which have been inserted into Kart based titles such as Cartoon Network, Cocoto, Moorhuhn and, of course, Mario. With the popularity of that final entry still very high it will be interesting to see if My Sims Racing offers anything new.
You can approach My Sims Racing in one of two ways initially: Story Mode and Single Race. We'll deal with the Story Mode here as the Single Race is simply a selection of the tracks you find elsewhere in the game. It takes you through the basic elements of the game step by step and is an ideal way to fully explore your new world. You start out at the garage where you can purchase
and later customize your car with a variety of parts and cosmetic finishes. You will, of course, have to pay for these and to do this you'll be forced to undertake a huge number of 'Crazy Taxi' type challenges where you must get the locals from one place to another and collect various items against the clock. This will reward you with a variety of credits but simply earning them isn't enough, you'll also have to uncover blueprints before building your enhancements.
These are all hidden in the various races and only won (or unlocked) should you manage to come in first. Not all tracks are open to you initially though and the various themed worlds only become available when your personal rating is high enough (it will rise as you win races). The racing itself is standard stuff and you'll be able to enter around a dozen themed tracks featuring short cuts, speed boosts and a variety of pickups. This is one of the game's highlights and the ability to place a tree in front of your opponent is great fun as is hitting them with a football when they are only moments from the finish line. The shortcuts themselves are also worth seeking out as they take you around the track on a route you would not normally see should you stick to the standard track.
Once you have completed the main game there is a Multiplayer where not only can you play friends but also take on the rest of the world thanks to the on-line play. This is what really separated the likes of Mario Kart from the rest of the pack, but here we found that sometimes it was difficult to find opponents and even when you did, they offered up little challenge probably due to their age.
Like Mario Kart, this has been kept very simple indeed with the A and B buttons controlling gas and brakes and the D-pad: direction. The only really difficult thing is mastering the 'bunny hop' to 'drift' around corners and so build up your 'boost meter'. Sadly in the whole time we played we didn't manage it, although that didn't stop us beating the game and the various on-line opponents.
Visually the game is really quite pleasing with well designed areas and a variety of fun, crisp textures on the various buildings and scenery. The draw distance is impressive too with the developers opting for a distant fog rather than a pop-up of any description generating a natural feel. The real highlight though, is when you enter any one of the themed tracks most of which take place both in and out of doors. These are particularly impressive and you may even want to drive around just to check out the finer details which make up the Sims world. You can race around a sandy coast and tear around the corridors of a cruise ship, slide around snow covered mountain tops or even race around a different planet.
If you've played any of the My Sims titles before then you probably know what to expect here. The various tracks and menus feature the same likable soundtracks. Elsewhere you'll be treated to the garbled My Sims speak as the characters attempt to communicate with one another along with a range of familiar sound effects.
Other than editing your characters appearance, and the odd option, there's nothing overwhelming really.
Given that the world already has the mighty Mario Kart, it was always going to be difficult for this game to really make a significant impact on the racing genre but it's not all bad and there are some nice touches, like the customization of characters. Unfortunately, it still doesn't really have it where it matters. The racing is certainly not as involved as you'd expect, it's a little short and the Story Mode is not that interesting. Even so this is a charming little racer, just don't expect the lengthy gameplay you'd enjoy with some similar titles.
Pro: Character Customization, Well-Designed Tracks.
Con: Story Mode Repetitive, Nothing Really New.
Final score: 7
|Developer:||EA Bright Light|