Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine|
When I first got the email asking me to review Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine, I was told it was a kart racing game. That peaked my interest. I love racing go-karts. Gran Turismo 5 is my favorite racing game, mostly because it has realistic kart racing. Immediately I imagined that paying a high profile driver like Jimmie Johnson to be their cover guy must mean he was going back to his roots and endorsing a great realistic kart racing game. I was looking forward to some time behind my Logitech racing wheel.
So as you can imagine, I was pretty disappointed when I picked up Anything with An Engine to find yet another arcade kart racer with stereotype characters and arcade style gameplay complete with missiles and other power-ups. There are several games on every console from iPhone to Wii to Xbox and PS3 with nearly identical features… Mario, Crash Bandicoot, Sonic, and quick promo games from Burger King, M&M’s, Dreamworks and others. Did someone actually think we needed another arcade kart racing game?
Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine starts off with the usual menu selections. There is single event, career and multiplayer mode. That pretty much tells you this should have been in the online PlayStation Store or Xbox Live Arcade, not on the store shelf with the real games. There are quite a few options for your races including 11 drivers. You can choose from a bathtub kart “Clean Freak”, shopping kart “Bargain Nana”, golf kart “Silverspoon”, lawnmower “Hazzard Hicks”, bomber kart “Megaton”, coffin kart “Kiss of Death”, lounger kart “Couch Potato”, and unlockables of construction equipment, boating junk, toilet components, and a dumpster. Each of the drivers has special missiles and mines such as Couch Potato who shoots Pepperoni Pizza and lobs old TV sets.
Modes includes normal race, time attack, survival, endurance, matador (a ‘figure 8’ type of race), and duel (sort of a demolition derby). There are 13 themed tracks to choose from including Calamity City (Hollywood with meteors), Carnival Carnage, Castle Crash, Dragon Dash, Hazard Highways, Hillbilly Hoedown, Dirt Derby, Moonshine Madness, Runway Rampage (the tarmac of the LA airport), Viking Vengeance, Putter’s Oasis (a miniature golf course), Dino Safari, and Route 66.
The career mode is a tour of the game. It starts off with a lame studio drama featuring Jimmie Johnson voiceover but instead of animated characters you see slightly animated still shots and bad voiceovers with semi-crude comments. The career mode then takes off in the usual direction of bronze, silver, and gold cup series of races with different modes and increasing difficulty. If you do well you get to race against Jimmie Johnson.
The actual racing is nothing different from other kart racing games. The only slightly different aspect is you can drive through the pits to repair your car and occasionally some gates will open for a shortcut. Both features have been seen in other kart games. The driving controls are not very responsive and the graphics often took me out of the game completely. Often the karts look like a static standalone graphic with a moving background that doesn’t interact with the kart correctly. Then there was the occasion complete lockup that required the power switch to be cycled to reset the PS3. I was drowning in disappointment.
Online multiplayer is available but again, there is nothing innovative or appealing to bring anyone back to play more. It’s just the usual rundown of race modes but with online players instead of local. Unfortunately the only other online player I could find was another media outlet reviewing this game. That doesn’t bode well for the life of this game.
I can’t imagine a boardroom filled with money guys and creative types coming to a consensus to make this game. This game isn’t creative, it’s the same game as the others with a redneck skin. Why would any financial person pay for this game to be produced? Did they think there is an untapped market of redneck Jimmie Johnson fans who has never played one of the myriad of other kart games?
Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine is the complete definition of a lackluster experience. It is basically a redneck version of Mario Kart and would have been far more interesting if it were a real kart racing sim with a track construction mode. Instead we get a cheap rip-off that will leave everyone wondering how Konami will ever recoup the money to cover the cost of licensing Jimmie Johnson. This game is destined for a quick exit from the new release shelf straight to the discount bin.