|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Redwood Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: October 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
July 17, 2008 - Last year's MySims was a very cute, although quite generic title. It basically took the established Sims formula, made it a little cuter, and then added a construction element. The gameplay gave players a lot of freedom but was sadly lacking in substance and had a few technical issues. But overall, it was an above average title and had a lot of potential as the basis for a new Sims spin-off series. This fall, the first follow-up to MySims has been scheduled for release: MySims Kingdom. The good news is that it looks like the developers are really listening to the criticisms of the first game and trying to make MySims Kingdom for the Wii and DS a more focused and fleshed out experience.
At its heart, the original MySims could best be characterized as having a sandbox-style of gameplay. There were few story elements that drove progression, and the game's advancement really relied on the user. While this type of gameplay can work in some instances, in MySims it made the gameplay feel almost hollow. There was no real direction or drive to keep players deeply immersed, and this was one of the key things that the development team wanted to change for MySims Kingdom.
This time around, there will be a very strong narrative element that will help drive progress in the game. Of course, the free-roaming style of the game won't be compromised, but the story elements will definitely help connect you to the world of MySims Kingdom and encourage you to play with more defined goals in mind.
The story in MySims is fairly simple. Your self-created character will be entered in a contest and discover that they have excellent building skills. They will then be put into the service of King Roland, as a wandolier who travels the kingdom using his/her building ability. But, you'll have to do some travelling, as your unique building talents utilize elementals that you find in the natural world. These elementals are the raw materials for you to rebuild your town and have different properties depending on where you obtain them.
Construction will be your main focus in this title, just as it was in the original. However, the construction aspect of the gameplay will be executed in a whole new way. Instead of entering a "construction" mode and building things yourself without character interaction, you will be able to walk up to a construction space, hit a button, and build with your character. This really develops the immersion level, and actually seeing your character build your creations feels a lot more natural than building something by yourself with no character involvement whatsoever.
There will also be several challenges this time around aimed at your construction abilities. You will have to build certain structures according to available materials and construction rules in order to progress in the game. The addition of these puzzle-like elements really adds a platform feel to MySims and gives it an almost platform style gameplay.
Because MySims Kingdom is coming to both the Wii and DS this fall, there will probably be quite a few differences between the two versions. One big difference between the two seems to be that while the console version focuses heavily on construction, the DS version seems to have a lot more in terms of mini-game-style play. It also has a completely different storyline, which involves an evil plot to destroy the kingdom.
On a technical level, MySims Kingdom looks to address several of the complaints that were made about the original. First and foremost, MySims Kingdom has gotten rid of all loading screens, which were a little too prevalent in the original. MySims Kingdom will also have a faster and smoother framerate than its predecessor. Graphics still maintain the vibrant MySims signature look, and I don't think anyone is going to be disappointed with that.
One thing about MySims Kingdom that has not changed at all since the first iteration is the game's rich customization options. From creating patterns to designing templates, MySims makes it very easy to design your perfect world. So, if you're ready to tap into your inner architect and get creative, MySims Kingdom looks like it could be just the title to scratch your creative itch! Just remember, no white t-shirts after Labor Day!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer