Just askin' to be pim...
When we first heard Pimp My Ride was coming to Game Revolution, we were really excited: We know a car that could use a little help on our very own block. Instead, we found this stripped-down Wii game abandoned in our mailbox. Were we Punk’d? Should we send Xzibit a letter and ask him to pimp us a better game?
Pimp My Ride is based on the MTV show - West Coast rapper Xzibit visits some pretty twenty-something, restores their junky car, and stuffs it with more presents than Santa Claus on a morphine high. Is it just me or was this always a bad idea? Isn't a car with flames, spinners, and TV screens way more likely to get jacked then a duct-taped van? Just a thought.
The game moves Xzibit’s operation from Los Angeles to fictional Pimp City, where the residents love tricked-out cars and must say “pimp” at least once in every sentence - a law that is punishable by death. Pimp. Xzibit adopts you as his apprentice and challenges you to open up a shop, despite a nameless, never-seen rival. I guess. Or whatever. Are we pimpin' yet?
Eventually, you’ll “pimp out” 15 customers and Xzibit himself (is that a good thing?), but first you need cash for all those fancy new flat screens. You can scour the streets and knock the spare change from parking meters or other cars (I guess cars have pockets now), but the real money comes from parking your ride for two identical-but-different Ghost Ridin’ the Whip dancing mini-games.
Yes, Pimp My Ride is about dancing. No, you don’t need any rhythm to play the mini-game. Zero rhythm.
The second half of Pimp My Ride is a far more entertaining blend of the TV show and Crazy Taxi. Xzibit shows up to introduce a customer, banter a little, and give you hints about which items the customer really wants. You have two minutes to find auto shops and pick a pimpin' new replacement for every piece of the car. A simple mini-game at each shop has you swing and mash on the Wii Remote to cut costs. Will the customer choose your whip over your rival’s? They will if you find enough upgrades, or if they know what’s good for 'em. Don't be messin' in my hood.
Tricking out cars and racing against the clock are the most appealing parts of Pimp My Ride. Even the script is half-decent, with a bit of unnecessary cursing that pushes the game to a Teen rating. The rest of the game, which emphasizes slow cruising and dancing, is both empty and a time-killer. The unrealized potential is distractingly apparent as you roam around the streets: How about some racing, or some “let’s go to the customer’s hangout” deliveries? Can we at least get a combo bonus for knocking two cars together? Pimp My Ride throws a few bones like collectible tokens or a hit-the-rival-car battle, but they mostly exist as short-lived, unexplained, and unrewarding intrusions.
However, even if Pimp My Ride was more of a racer, the terrible physics would make driving an ordeal. Cars stick to every wall or corner, bringing the game to a screeching halt, and the city itself is a nightmarish mess of obstacles, narrow alleys, and dead-ends to trap players.
It would also help if Pimp My Ride didn’t crash my Wii half of the times I played it. Fortunately, the auto-save feature is pretty good at preserving your progress; you usually won’t have to repeat any fundraising shenanigans.
A pimped-out whip has to look good, so it’s sad to see Pimp My Ride looking like a PS2 port. Pimp City is cast in flat, boring solid colors. Graphically, this is the least interesting video game I’ve ever looked at. Sloppy particle effects, polygon seams, and the eerily unblinking, unmoving character faces get all up in your grill all too often, like a helpful reminder to play something else.
On the bright side, a bit of graphical Fabulousness brings balance to the game’s Ghetto moments. The risky dance and TV show sequences succeed thanks to decent camerawork and motion capture. For the most part, digitized Xzibit ond fronds move naturally and with plenty of expression, and the bouncing zooms and menu images come straight out of the show.
On sound, Pimp My Ride gets a little stale, but it tries to make an effort. Each of Pimp City’s impervious civilians shouts when you nearly mow them down, and the rising applause during the dancing mini-games is a nice incentive.
Pimp My Ride packs a few good cruising tunes, featuring Xzibit and a few rappers in a dozen average-to-hot tracks. Like a busted car radio, however, there’s no way to skip from one song to the next; I was hearing my favorite tracks too little, and my least favorite too much, with no way to know what any song was called. You might also wish that the 24 dancing stages were set to more than one song. The dancing isn’t even timed to the rhythm of the music, so can’t we swap in some other tunes?
There’s some charm to the cheesy interviews and the upgrades like the fold-down barbecue grill, but Pimp My Ride is such a flimsy game - so plain, so bare. It's catchy enough to play once or twice, but it can’t hold a candle to Burnout.