|2009-10-23||Wii||Action/Adventure||E (Everyone)||The Sims Studio / EA|
MySims Agents is one of those titles that appear to be enjoyable only for a younger age bracket, and while the game will inevitably be enjoyed more by said group of youngsters, the title's strategy and humor contain enough depth as to hold the attention of older gamers.
MySims Agents follows a cartoon artist named Buddy, who has become a successful comic book designer by creating a series of comics based on his best friend, a now-famous secret agent, played by you. The game is set loosely as a "this is how it all happened" tale of events, that places you in the role of a budding detective (and eventually secret agent) of your own design, who finds him/herself in the middle of a conspiracy surrounding a "Crown of Nightmares" that has the power to dominate all, and an evil conglomerate with ties to every chapter of the story.
You begin your journey by choosing your Sim's gender and name, and then customizing its appearance with a fairly limited set of clothing, hair and accessory options. In keeping with other MySims titles, your agent here is a short, big-eyed, and big-haired caricature that looks no older than ten (think something along the lines of a chibi).
After creating your character, you are thrown into gameplay proper, which sees you solving cases of varying complexity using both the Wii Remote and the nunchuck. For the most part, the controls handle well, and allow you to navigate the landscape (which is graphically very similar to something like Animal Crossing) collecting evidence using your on-screen pointer, as well as interview suspects and witnesses, and investigate all manner of common items like trash cans, bookshelves and window curtains in search of hidden items.
The game balances the expected detective duties with additional, more creative tasks that are achieved via the use of one of three tools you have at your disposal. The Detector allows you to follow footprint trails, the Techno-Tool allows you to pick locks and dismantle mechanical items for spare parts, and the F-Space Manipulator can be used to open crates and move items around the landscape so as to form stairs to reach previously inaccessible areas.
Additionally, there are four mini-games thrown in at specific intervals throughout each case that allow for chemical analysis of unknown substances (form molecular compounds with multi-colored orbs), hacking of computers and other electronics (keep the Wii-mote pointer within a constantly moving highlighted path), the repair of mechanical items (find missing gears and wires to complete a circuit), and lock-picking (rearrange sliding pieces so as to create a straight path from the key to the lock).
These mini-games offer the greatest challenge within the title, but even then they are solved quickly once you realize that most of them are arranged in such a way as to create a sort of pattern at the end - chemical orbs will form the shape of a cross of flower, gears will be connected in the shape of a U or T and so on.
While the steps required to solve each case are fairly obvious, the game does a fine job of helping younger players by suggesting a move that might be required of them in the future. The progress of each case can be found in your notepad, which offers hints if you forget what to do next, and very common, but not-so-subtle verbal cues like "This safe is locked. I wonder if I can open it somehow" are thrown in as well.
These frequent clues are a bit annoying for those who understand the process (and are playing the game two or three steps ahead of the rate at which your character mentally pulls things together), but with the dialogue being entirely text-based (characters speak in their native Simlish, which is then translated into speech bubbles at the bottom of the screen), it's nothing that a quick press of the A button can't skip.
While some of the cases can be rather shallow, tasking you with finding missing items to create a tea party, or locating a dog's misplaced chew toy, there are multiple unlockables to be found, friends to be made, and agents to recruit back at your Secret Agent HQ.
Most of the items you find will come in the form of furniture or entertainment pieces that can be used to decorate your headquarters. After doing so, you can recruit new agents and assign them to one of four floors. Each agent has a particular skill and interest set (whether they are charismatic, environmentally driven, sports oriented, etc.), as does each item, which creates a real level of strategy is deciding which agent to place on which floor or near which items, so as to maximize their strengths.
Their strengths, then, come into play when taking on the game's many, many sidequests, which allow you to assign a team of up to three agents to secondary cases that reward you with even more items for your HQ, additional agents, and even clothing for your character.
All told, MySims Agents is definitely not lacking for content. The main storyline is quite lengthy, and is extended even further by the game's sidequests, if you choose to tackle them. The game finds a nice balance between cartoon foolishness (talking yetis and zombies, as two prime examples) and the occasional bit of sarcastic humor, with the mixture creating a surprisingly enjoyable take on the crime-solving genre that is recommendable even to an older age group, so long as they are willing to accept the game for what it is and go in with an open mind.
Special thanks to Alexis Mervin and EA for providing a copy of this title.