Hard to believe, but this game's got legs!
My Sims Racing would be better titled Lego Island Kart Racers, as it's similar to the old PC game, Lego Island, but with more kart racing. The game’s look and gameplay flow mirror that ancient Lego gaming effort. My Sims Racing consists of three tasks: running people from place to place (errands), participating in Mario Kart-like races, and finding trophies in the local skate parks. You'd think that over the course of a five or six hour game these tasks would grow old, but I was extremely surprised to find that that wasn't the case. My Sims Racing obviously targets the younger set, but I found myself enjoying every second of it.
Since it is a Sims game, you can customize your character and vehicle to your heart's content. Different hats, hairstyles, faces, skin colors, and clothing styles can be used to dress your own character, and there is a wealth of vehicle options available. While the crop of choices is initially slim, your inventory grows substantially over time.
You see, My Sims Racing rewards even the most mundane task with awesome swag. Drive a person down the block and they'll give you coins and sometimes a blueprint for some new piece of equipment. The errands are often so simple that they don't take more than a minute, so running people around is never a chore. In addition to taxing them around the area, citizens will ask you to find numerous items scattered around the roads for them. On rare occasions there is a time limit for these tasks, but you're given more than enough time.
The kart racing aspect is impressive, and resembles a simplified Mario Kart DS. The courses themselves are varied and colorful, often featuring large set pieces and plenty of shortcuts. Item boxes hold Mario Kart-like items, such as Soccer Balls (Koopa Shells), Bottle Rockets (Mushrooms), Pumpkins (Blooper), and UFOs (Bullet Bill). There are a few unique items, such as tree seeds and bubbles, and the combat portion of the karting is well-balanced and fun.
Every time you win a race, you get blueprints for better parts that increase your acceleration or give you better handling. There is a power slide mechanic that has more in common with Mario Kart Wii than Mario Kart DS, but the twisty nature of later tracks generally prohibits power sliding. That's a shame, because successful power sliding gradually increases your boost meter, and pressing X is like hitting the NOS. This boost can help you win races on the tougher courses, and it’s also fun as hell, so I wish there were more opportunities to power slide!
Winning kart circuits opens up new circuits, and there are four circuits in total, each with two or three courses each (the final circuit has just one course). I only found one course to be really challenging because of its layout, but all the other ones only required one or two tries to get the gold. More challenging courses would’ve been appreciated, but the Quick Race option (on the main menu) allows you to replay races at varying difficulty levels.
The game's final aspect is its skate parks. There are two skate parks in the game, and you must find trophies that are scattered throughout them. Half of the challenge is actually finding the trophies because of the large size of the skate parks, and the other half is figuring out how to get to them. The trophies are marked on the top screen's map, but because the skate parks have multiple levels they aren't always where you think they are. I found these skate parks to be the most tedious part of the game, because they take the longest and don't jive with the quick progression experienced in other areas. The upside is that you usually get tons of coins for completing these challenges.
As previously mentioned, you’ll finish all of the kart racing, errands, and skate park quests in about six hours, so My Sims Racing is not a long game. However, it features a ton of multiplayer options: both single and multi-card multiplayer and Nintendo WFC multiplayer that lets you play with friends or strangers. There is no battle mode so it's straight racing, which less competitive players will appreciate but other players may balk at. The CPU fills in empty spaces in the roster, and you can increase or decrease the AI difficulty. If you don't have any friends and just want to race, you can select Quick Race from the main menu and go at it with CPU opponents.
The game performs great, too. Its graphics are simple, but in a good way. It’s like driving around a LEGO car with LEGO characters through LEGO towns. The draw distance is great, and there isn’t a hint of slowdown, even when there’s a lot of action going on.
Overall, My Sims Racing is a surprisingly tight game with great production values and a lot of heart, and it can’t be recommended highly enough for the younger gamers among us. There may not be enough content to fulfill older gamers, but it’s certainly a fun multiplayer game. If Mario Kart DS isn’t your bag, you might want to try My Sims Racing.