The idea behind Pimp My Ride is certainly an intriguing scenario for videogames. Just imagine being able to have a racing game, car customization, and even Xzibit all in one package, and all for under fifty bucks! Fans of the show certainly know the premise, but for the less informed let me give you a quick rundown. In the show the self proclaimed “Black Bruce Willis” takes broke college kids’ pieces of junk and turns them into pimpin’ rides; all within a thirty minute time limit. When this concept was brought to the gaming realm though it seems someone forgot to bring the pimpin’ aspect along with it.
There were many avenues that the team could have gone when creating this game. It could have simply been a straight racing affair with nodes of customization thrown in for good measure. It could have been a straight up simulator in the vein of NFL Head Coach. To be honest it could have been a giant collection of mini games with Xzibit as the host and all would have been fine, but alas the developers decided to take several parts of each of these aspects and throw them into the blender for a game that fails to ever find the fun factor of any of these genres.
Here is how the game works. You begin your session by taking control of Xzibit’s ride and choose a person’s car to pimp. From the outset you are given a quick rundown of all of their interests so you can decide what to deck out the car with. Once you are set you will have a specific amount of cash to earn before you can pimp said ride. This begins the free-roam mode where the goal is to complete tasks and events to earn enough money to “Pimp Their Ride”.
Now so far the game doesn’t really seem all that bad; that is until you figure out what mundane tasks you will be participating in throughout the appropriately named “Pimp City”. The quickest way to earn dough is simply by ramming other cars at full speed. When you make contact sparkling gold coins will fly out of the trunk and magically earn you thousands of dollars to spend. I need to try that in real life and see if my insurance will dole out gold coins for rear-ending people at 100mph.
If this doesn’t work fast enough you can always ghostride the whip. Yeah I said “WTF” the first time I heard this phrase as well. Basically this consists of you getting out of your car and cranking up the stereo, all while break dancing alongside the open door in front of God and everyone. This is sort of a mini-game and I use that term lightly as all you are required to do is press A about twenty times and you win; very methodical.
If all of this isn’t enough to get your motor revving then you may want to simply participate in a cruising event. This is exactly what it sounds like and just about as much fun. You slow your car to a crawl and tap three buttons in the right order to appease the crowd. End of story. There are also hidden billboards and structures that will earn you achievements and more money; that is of course if your game doesn’t lock up in the process, which it does have a high tendency to do.
After you have earned enough money to pimp your client’s ride its time for the real fun. You will now attempt to navigate your poorly controlling car through a drab looking city trying to get from shop to shop before the timer runs out. Each shop contains items to pimp out their car such as new paint, fancy rims, and specialty items such as sewing machines and mechanical bulls, I kid you not!
Inside each shop you will participate in another mini-game that will ultimately determine your price for each item. Once again most of these are effortless bouts consisting of moving the analog stick up and down or simply pressing the corresponding buttons in the correct order.
After the time runs out, or you manage to hit every shop on the list, you will be evaluated by how much the client likes their new ride. Earn a high enough ranking and you will even earn an achievement. Then you repeat this process fifteen more times for hours of quality entertainment.
Visually the game isn’t going to win any awards, but it is far from ugly. The lighting effects add a nice layer of realism, but nasty slowdown and simplified textures really make this game feel like a quick PS2 port. The audio is the only outstanding feature as the voices are nicely done and the soundtrack is great if you love the soft sounds of Xzibit pounding in your ears.
When all is said and done Pimp My Ride feels like a budget title; a PS2 budget title at that and that is disappointing. The possibilities of a game based on this franchise are endless, it’s just a shame they were not explored better. With terrible driving controls, archaic visuals, and insultingly easy mini-games Pimp My Ride is another poor example of how licensed games really get the short end of the development stick sometimes.