The Sims franchise has been a major powerhouse of sales and popularity on the PC for years, but has never really translated into success on consoles and handhelds, managing only modest sales and average reviews. As the franchise moved to the Wii in 2007 it was transformed into MySims, which removed all of the teen and adult-focused content and targeted a younger audience. The MySims franchise has been focused on the Nintendo platforms (aside from a single PC entry), and while it has been better than the dismal Nintendo DS entries, the response has still been mixed reviews and unspectacular sales. Electronic Arts hopes to change all that as they mix things up with MySims Agents for the Wii, and was kind enough to provide a copy for me to review and keep, so let’s take a look and see how they did!
MySims Agents is a single player simulation/adventure game in which players take on the role of a special agent on a mission to uncover and foil the sinister plans ofMorcubus, the corrupt CEO of MorcuCorp . Players will search for clues and solve cases across the city and far beyond as they piece together his nefarious plans. Armed with a set of increasingly sophisticated gadgets, players will track footprints, pick locks, hack into computers and do molecular forensics.
They will also jump, climb, balance and build their way to follow cases no matter where they lead, even taking a private jet to reach an ancient temple, a spooky mansion and an icy mountaintop chalet. Along the way they meet MySims they can recruit to build up their own team of agents, and unlock rare items they can use to deck out their headquarters.
For whatever reason, my first experience with The Sims was recently when I bought The Sims 3 for Mac & PC. Sure I had playedSimCity on various platforms, but that is an entirely different experience. The Sims franchise is all about, well, living life through a simulated person you create and guide through a huge and involved world. In The Sims, your character is highly customizable in visual terms as well as social and economic aspirations. In contrast,MySims has a much simpler game mechanic that involves less complex interactions, and the characters are very much like the Miis you make up for other Wii games. The result has been uninspired gameplay that has failed to attract kids or adults.
Enter MySims Agents, a game that has been released without much fanfare, and has generated low expectations because of the previous MySims games. I’m here to say that while this is not going to be labeled a ‘classic’ anytime soon, it is a solid game that greatly exceeded my expectations and offers a nice style of gameplay based around investigating crimes. As mentioned above, Morbucus is using his corporation to find a powerful artifact called the ‘nightmare crown’. Your job is to find out why. The method you employ is exploration and clue-seeking, not pixel-hunting as happens in too many standard adventure games. The result is a more engaging and action-oriented game.
In terms of graphics and controls, MySims Agents reminds me of playing LEGO Star Wars – everything is presented from a fixed camera angle as you move around in the nicely detailed 3D areas. The graphics themselves are simplistic, but effective and consistent throughout. The sounds are similarly simple – characters you see chatter away similar to folks from Animal Crossing, and the music provides a suitable background.
The major gameplay elements center around the cases you solve. Each one is self-contained and quickly wraps up nicely, and you generally need to make use of one of a few different investigation mechanics. Early on, you will get some specific clues and be guided to making the proper choices of what to do next, and eventually solve the crime. Tasks involved include following footprints, analyzing suspicious materials, hacking electronic devices, repairing machines, and moving blocks around to gain access to areas.
As things progress, you are inducted into the Sim Protection Agency and are able to gain access to the characters you meet during the course of solving missions. Each has a specific set of strengths (based on 5 criteria) that can help you out as you continue tacking cases. These recruits can be assigned to perform different tasks while you work on the main mission, and will keep in contact with as they proceed. Once they complete their task you are rewarded with in-game loot!
Some of the cases get rather involved, but there is never a sense of complexity. Your tools upgrade as you go along, which helps keep some interest in the otherwise repetitive mini-games. And while there isn’t much interaction with other MySims outside of strictly case-based stuff, there are other things like some platforming that keeps things interesting and varied. The game also does a pretty good job mixing things up as you need to work on a case, so that the backtracking seldom gets tedious.
The game is very helpful in terms of providing clues and hints about what to do next, and how you are progressing towards solving the current crime. In fact, for more experienced gamers, it is too helpful. There is never a real need to stop and think your way through a situation or puzzle, as advice is constantly available. Your case book will tell you exactly what to do next, and while you can try to ignore it, there is enough unavoidable help that you will never be stuck puzzling. And to an extent that is the point: this game isn’t for haggard veterans of the pixel-hunting wars, but for a much younger audience that has never played an adventure game.
Aside from the over-zealous hand-holding, the other thing that bothered me was the repetition. As mentioned, there are only a few core mini-games, and you’ll need to use them to solve every case. This means that you will perform what amounts to the same hacking mini-game a couple of dozen times with only minor variations.
MySims Agent is clearly aimed at a younger audience with limited adventure game experience. And for that crowd it presents enough challenge and variety to keep them engaged for several hours. For older and more experienced gamers, the simplicity, hand-holding and repetition will likely mar the experience, yet there is fun to be had for all ages. The game doesn’t take itself seriously, feeling somewhat like it is pulling from Scooby-Doo at times, and there is plenty of humor in the dialog text. The use of the WiiMote controls works very well, and there are no technical issues I noted. This is just a pure fun experience that puts a nice twist on some familiar territory and is highly recommended as a ‘family play’ game for folks with young kids looking for a cool new game.
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
Source: Publisher provided review copy which I was allowed to keep.
What I Like:
- Nice mystery game twist
- Fun mini-games to solve cases
- Nice sense of humor and fun
What Needs Improvement:
- Trivial challenge can numb the experience
- Too much repetition