MySims Racing Hands-On

We pimp our ride and hit the racetrack in Electronic Arts' upcoming arcade racer.

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MySims takes a break from furniture construction and wandolier action to hit the racetracks in MySims Racing. The bright and cheery crew gets behind the wheel in this arcade racer in which you can customize your character as well as your very own car. At first glance, this is going to seem like a Mario Kart clone, but MySims Racing does have its own unique features that set it apart from the other racers, such as customization. Like in the adventure games that came before it, you start off creating your own MySim, choosing your own hair style, eye color, voice, and now an entire wardrobe of racing gear.

Customize your vehicle so that you'll stand out against the crowd.
Customize your vehicle so that you'll stand out against the crowd.

Most of the gameplay does involve racing, but there's a story mode to keep that MySims feel. Once you've created a character, story mode introduces you to the characters in the MySims universe. Your goal, like always, is to be happy and helpful, but you're also honing your racing abilities to complete challenges set by your in-game friends, which will unlock new parts and other surprises.

A map of the city is available for you to check out, but you're limited to exploring one specific area at a time. Once you've helped the citizens in a certain area, you can then branch out and move on to the next. The MySims you meet will offer anywhere from two to four challenges on the track. For example, Chef Gino may want some help collecting pizzas, so you'll hit the racetrack trying to nab as many delicious pies as possible. Your relationship with the locals will determine what kind of special parts you can get, which are then used to beef up your vehicle.

Depending on your driving style, you have the option of choosing a small, medium, or large car. The size will affect how it handles and how much of a beating it can take from your opponents. You can stylize your ride by changing the paint, slapping on a stick, or even replacing the hood ornament. The important part is under the hood, where you can upgrade your car's top speed and acceleration by upgrading your engine. You'll need to collect essences (the in-game currency) along the track before you can add to your car. Changing the frame will alter the weight of your car and how it handles, so it really depends on what feels more natural to you when you're racing. Part of the fun is customizing your car so that it runs exactly the way you want it to.

We played using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, but you can play with a wheel, the classic controller, or the GameCube controller. Our setup was easy to handle; you use the analog stick to steer and the A button to accelerate. The B button was used to brake and drift around tight corners. By drifting, you build up an "F" energy meter on the side, which in turn will give you the ability to boost. Collecting essences on the track will also contribute to the gauge. Holding Z uses your F energy, and if you fill up your meter entirely you get a superboost, which will ensure that you leave the competition behind. You have to watch your meter, though, because if it starts to overflow, whoever is hovering behind you will benefit by collecting free energy. If you prefer racing in a larger car, the benefits include stealing energy from others by running hard into them. There are already quite a few hazards to look out for on the track, but you can always add to the chaos.

Share the high-speed fun with up to three friends.
Share the high-speed fun with up to three friends.

Picking up gifts on the track will give you items to shoot or use against your opponent. For example, the F energy tornado will flip the track upside down temporarily, and bunny love will cover your screen with bunnies that you need to shake off with the Wii Remote. There are soccer balls and watermelons with a homing device that add to the mayhem. It's fast-paced and it's fun, but there's definitely the element of randomness.

There are more than 12 courses that are available in multiplayer right off the bat, so you don't have to go through the hassle of unlocking tracks to play. Up to four players can race locally, with two computer-controlled racers to give you some competition. As you go through the story mode, you will unlock parts and unveil secret parts of the track that can change the experience. Shortcuts are located throughout the individually themed tracks, but they aren't always obvious or available. Quick Race mode also gives you the option to race in a tournament against the computer, beat the clock, or do a single race.

MySims Racing retains the look and feel of the previous games with its colorful environments and cutesy atmosphere. The tracks themselves all have their own theme, and there is quite a bit going on in the background if you're paying enough attention. We zipped through a ski hill as well as a music-themed track, which were full of obstacles, shortcuts, and plenty of essences to collect. We had a chance to see only a few tracks, but there seems to be quite a bit of variety and things to do, especially if you're helping the townsfolk with their problems. You don't have to complete all of the challenges, but we were told that there are at least 10 hours of gameplay if you head straight to the finish line. Otherwise, you can easily spend more than 20 hours collecting parts and beating all of the challenges.

The release date is coming up fast, so be on the lookout for MySims Racing when it is released on June 16.

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