I Have the Need. The Need for Sim.
It seems with any successful casual game that there's a bundle of yearly sequels that later come out. With Rayman Raving Rabbids, we've just seen the fourth installment of the mini-game franchise with TV Party. An extreme example is Guitar Hero which has Aerosmith, Metallica, Van Halen, Smash Hits, Donnie and Marie Osmond, KC and the Sunshine Band, The Beats, and many more within a year's time (perhaps I'm off on some of those). Now after the impressive and surprisingly good yearly titles of MySims and MySims Kingdom, EA has decided to create some spin-offs for the family-friendly franchise. The first was the critically-panned MySims Party. The second has the MySims crew taking it to the tracks to burn rubber in MySims Racing. Does this spin-off speed past the competition, or does it need a permanent pit stop?
MySims Racing features a story mode which most single-player racers will spend the most of their time in. The story goes something like this. Your town's racing hero has mysteriously disappeared, and if that wasn't bad enough, the dastardly Morcubus is attempting to take the town deed for himself, effectively kicking your neighbors to the curve. The horror! The horror! But Ol' Gabby has an idea. Perhaps you can stop Morcubus' evil plans by outracing his goons, helping your fellow townspeople, and taking big baddy Morcubus on wheel-to-wheel in the Ultimate Cup. As with the past games, the writing is top-notch and very humorous. One of my favorite gags is a girl who tries to pretend she's not a robot. "HELLO, FELLOW HUMAN! WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO TO THE GARAGE? Y/N/Maybe?" It's humor that's for everyone no matter if they're a young kid, a seasoned gamer, or whoever. I can definitely dig that.
The MySims franchise is known for accessible customization-- creating your Sim's appearance and building various doodads. MySims Racing is no different. No, you can't build your own tracks or anything (see: ModNation Racers), but you do start off by building your own MySims racer. You can perform a real-time sex change making your male sim and female in the blink of an eye, change their hairstyle, skin color, eyes, voice, and clothing. After working on your looks, you can start fine-tuning your own vehicle. In your garage your character can hold three different cars of varying weights-- light, medium, and heavy. You can tinker everything from the body, front and back bumpers, horn sound, sideview mirrors, and even pimp your ride with rockin' new rims.
Of course, style isn't heavily favored over substance when it comes to designing a car to hit the pavement. The inside of the car matters, too, and here you can change your engine and other vehicle parts to enhance your top speed, weight, handling, and more. At the beginning of the game, you start with a modest amount of vehicle parts, but by completing story mode missions you unlock blueprints to build new parts. You build new parts using the colorful essences strewn about the game's fifteen tracks.
The tracks in MySims Racing are honestly well-designed. They're not to the caliber of Mario Kart Wii, but then again neither is the item imbalance which isn't a problem in MySims Racing. There are no game-breaking items to be found though a lot of imitators of Mario Kart Wii's arsenal such as screen-obstructing items, homing items, and green shell-like dangers in the form of soccer balls. Regardless, the fifteen tracks span across snowy slopes with ski lifts to avoid, wild west-like canyons full of perilous turns, a race down a speedy stream in a dark forest, and racing inside a pinball-inspired labyrinth. Some of the shortcuts are really well-hidden, and speaking of which, each track has a secret blueprint hidden on it usually after a clever shortcut.
There's a pretty good variety of challenges asked of you to accomplish. These range from Outrun-like checkpoint challenges, one lap time trials, one-on-one racing, obstacle courses, collection sprees, and a three lap race against five other opponents. Each challenge has three medal requirements. Gold being the hardest to achieve such as beating an opponent by ten seconds or passing through all the gates before time runs out. While beating the game may take just five hours, getting all golds (100% completion) is another story altogether.
That notwithstanding, while the single-player is much longer than Mario Kart Wii-- and the constant comparisons are because the games are similar, and MKWii is the top dog on any current-gen console at the moment-- MySims Racing's multi-player mode is local only. There is no online functionality which is a huge oversight considering how cool it would be to take your created character and vehicle online for the world to see. It's just a missed opportunity. Nonetheless, there is split screen play through various cups and tracks. It just won't last very long if you don't have friends nearby.
While MySims Racing does share some common design ideas from Mario Kart Wii, it never feels like a complete rip-off. There's enough original things here to make the game worth a look. It may not have online play, but it's also ten dollars less than full retail. If you've got friends or want an enjoyable single-player experience, MySims Racing is definitely a game you should race on over to pick up sometime soon.
[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]