Hands-on impressions / MySims Agents (Wii)

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say up front that I do not play any The Sims games, no matter the type. In fact, I tried playing the original The Sims but quit shortly after my sim would not stop crying in the corner of the bathroom because he had to go pee.  So, it was a great surprise when EA kindly flew me out to their offices in San Francisco to view several upcoming The Sims games for the Wii and DS. As to be expected, a couple of the games were full of corporate pandering to the family demographic, but MySims Agents, a family oriented mystery solving game in the vein of a point and click adventure, stuck out as a quality product. A group of us sat down in a room to watch a demonstration and get hands on with the game, but were immediately grabbed by something unexpected from the Wii – decent graphics and intriguing gameplay.

As the game started, the typical customization options were given: male or female, beginning clothing options, hair color and style, etc… As the game progressed, the options became more robust and had an effect on gameplay as some items alter the character’s various stats. Once our initial look was chosen, we found ourselves on main street, hanging out in Geno’s Pizzeria with our sidekick Buddy, who happens to be a comic book writer. Our character is an aspiring detective who, while solving mysteries for our friends and neighbors, has submitted an application to the Sims Protection Agency and is waiting to hear back from them. The agency becomes impressed with our crime solving abilities and eventually brings us on-board where we begin solving larger, more in depth mysteries.

Once we became an official agent, we moved out from the pizzeria and gained our own headquarters, complete with a Derobinator 9000 where we could change clothes at anytime, a customizable rooftop that alters stats based on our decoration choices, and a bunch of job openings in which we needed to hire sims for. The headquarters had four floors, including the basement, with three agents employed on each floor for a total of twelve sims to find and employ. These agents, with their own stats, could be sent out to solve various minor mysteries while we progressed through our main story arc. One of the really neat things about sending these sims out was the fact that they would randomly call us and ask advice during their mission, calls which we could choose to answer or ignore, and if we ignored them long enough they would just stop calling.

During our mission, we had to talk to various NPCs to discover the who, what, why, where, when, and how of the case in order to collect evidence and, eventually, accuse someone of the crime once there were three pieces of evidence against them. MySims Agents is the first MySims game in which the character can speak while you decide what to say. Once we found a clue or piece of evidence it was all logged in our casebook for future reference with other notes about the case and possible leads, some being red herrings. In addition to talking, our sim also had a set of tools that were constantly being improved upon as we progressed through the game. For example, we started out with a Sherlock Holmes style magnifying glass and eventually wound up with a CSI style footprint detector, not in one play through mind you – we had to cheat to get that one so quick.

The game is a vast improvement over the first MySims, which was being developed when Nintendo was set on naming their console the Revolution, so no one really knew what to expect from a gameplay and graphics standpoint. Now that the Wii is established and has some maturity under its belt, the developers could take the input received from the previous title and smooth things out. Most noticeably is the fact that the camera is a static fixture, only moving for scripted events because, as Rachel Bernstein, Lead Producer, said, “we always know the best place to put the camera.” In doing that, they could make the world more richer visually by hiding things they didn’t want players to see yet or make a more panoramic view.

MySims Agents is due to hit Wii and DS September 29 and is boasting 15 hours of gameplay for the main story line without messing with the side missions.

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