reviews\ Dec 27, 2006 at 7:00 pm

Pimp My Ride - PS2 - Review

Driving games are a blast. Pimp My Ride is an awesome show. Both combine cool cars, rap music, and MTV-generation videography for a new level of interactive (games) and viewing (Pimp My Ride) entertainment.

When it came time for the two to finally cross paths, there was no question as to whether or not the Pimp My Ride video game would be set in the driving genre. Racing is too specific. It relies on pre-determined paths – high-speed courses where getting the gold cup is all that matters. Pimp My Ride needed the depth and flexibility that driving games have to offer. It needed to let us roam as freely as we wanted. It needed an engine that would enable players to seek out and acquire just the right parts for their vehicles in a cool and pimped-out way.

Xzibit kicks things off with an intro not unlike those seen in the TV series. California might be the birthplace of the game’s location, but you're not in LA – you're in Pimp City, a fictitious land where young men and women drive old clunkers that are in need of some serious pimping.

But before you can get to any of that, the doors need to be replaced. The tires are bald – trash 'em or donate 'em to the Hair Club For Men, it doesn't matter. Just remove them at once. The engine might also need to be scrapped. Man, would you look at that dash? It's horrible! The trunk won't close. The back seat has lost most of its cushion. Now springs poke through, leaving your friends with an unparalleled appreciation for Tux.

This is just dreadful. And guess what? You don't have to deal with any of it. The garbage they kill time with on the show has been scrapped and replaced with ... well, it isn't garbage, but you might end up calling it filler.

Hard Drivin'

Everyone loves to cruise. Developers have been enveloped in this idea since the first 3D racer was introduced (Virtua Racing, Ridge Racer, Daytona USA – take your pick). The Driver, Crazy Taxi, and Grand Theft Auto series brought a new era of driving, not racing, games that have served as the building blocks for many of the titles released today.

Pimp My Ride is another such game. You have a fair amount of control over your vehicle, and can drive around the city almost as much as you please. There isn't much to do – only a handful of locations are available to visit. Each one triggers a mini-game that'll help you get to the next mission. Missions involve more mini-games. Complete them and you'll get to repeat the process all over again (and several more times until the end is reached).

While cruising, you're bound to accidentally slam into another vehicle. Don't feel bad - it happens to the best of us. I tell you, if I had a ticket for every time I went through a red light ... in Crazy Taxi. (Of course I was referring to a video game!)

After a crash, don't make like a Hollywood celebrity and flee the scene. Stop the car and see what happened. Wow, look at that – the car you crashed into just released a bunch of coins! They're drawn to your vehicle, like spirits are drawn to Dante in Devil May Cry. Interesting. Take a glance at your crash (I mean cash) earnings and you'll see that they have increased. This is bound to make every gamer wonder: if you crash into a zillion cars, could it multiply your dollars by, oh I don't know – a zillion?

The answer is a resounding yes – it can multiply your dollars by a zillion! (Figuratively speaking.) But there's no need to earn that much cash. You only need $5,000 to get started, and not much more for the few cars after that. The listed dollar amount is the minimum you'll need to get started. It's assumed that, with five grand, you'll be able to get your car a decent paint job, new parts, and at least a couple of cool and pimped-out items. (Flat screens all the way!)

Mini-games include the obvious and the more obvious. Those who can't get enough of Mario Party might be intrigued: press the A button as the A button icon scrolls across the screen. Though I’m sure you’re tempted, there's no need to say the obvious – several dozen games include this function every single year. I don't know why it hasn't been banished from our industry, but I guess the assumption is that someone is going to enjoy it.

Second mini-game: tap one or more of the four face buttons as they appear on screen in the sequence indicated. Do it before they disappear or you'll lose. Yes, very obvious.

Third mini-game: turn the left analog stick as quickly as possible. There's no strategy or anything clever involved. Just turn it until the game says you're done.

The list goes on from there. You'll cruise, crash into vehicles, perform these mini-games, and keep your fingers crossed as the guy or gal in question makes a selection. You'll hope they pick your car over the rival garage's vehicle, and if they do, it's onto the next. The mini-games are repeated, and so is everything else.

Review Scoring Details for Pimp My Ride

Gameplay: 3.9
Button-tapping mini-games have never been much fun, especially in games that don’t offer an alternative. The sluggish controls and less-than-perfect frame rate severely damage the driving experience.

Graphics: 3.0
Grainy, washed out, and downright ugly. These are some of the worst visuals I’ve seen all year.

Sound: 4.0
I love the show, but not for Xzibit’s jokes or rap music. If you feel the same, you won’t be enthused by Pimp My Ride’s soundtrack. However, the voice-overs do match the quality of the show. That isn’t saying much, but at least they didn’t lose any quality there.

Difficulty: Easy
Tap the correct buttons as they appear on screen. What could be easier?

Concept: 5.0
Outside of rival garages, Pimp My Ride doesn’t offer anything new. The PS2 version’s lackluster execution brings it down a few notches.

Overall: 3.8
Not worth your time. Driving games can be fun – and that’s the sad and unfortunate truth. That they can be. Nowhere is it stated that they will be fun. There is no guarantee. If you must play Pimp My Ride, try the 360 version. Play this version and you’ll put yourself through a lot of unnecessary frustration.


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