EA’s hyper-cutesy MySims franchise continues to expand and branch out in new directions, offering a bubbly alternative to the more mature-minded life micromanagement simulation in The Sims. Recent excursions into party mini-games and racing territory have yielded mixed results, and up to this point the series seems to be at its strongest when sticking closely to the core building and socializing-focused experience found in the original. MySims Agents is the exception. It deviates pretty substantially from the gameplay of the first two titles, but that actually works in its favor.
MySims Agents has you trading in your builder’s sawhorse (or magic wand, for those who’ve played MySims Kingdoms) for a detective’s cap and magnifying glass. You start out as a budding sleuth who soon becomes drawn deeper into a wicked plot set into motion by the sinister Morcubus, who’s pining after a powerful evil crown. Attaining the rank of special agent, you’ll assemble a crack team of oddball agents, setup a secret base of operations, and dive into the investigation of increasingly elaborate cases as you seek to get to the bottom of Morcubus’ scheme. Agents is more story-driven than the previous games, and this fits perfectly with its strong adventure vibe. Having the plot front-and-center for the first time makes for a more consistent and compelling flow to the game.
As a special agent, your focus throughout the game is primarily on hunting for clues, interviewing witnesses and suspects, linking together evidence, and solving a string of cases that leads you closer to uncovering the underlying evildoings that are going down behind the scenes. Some elements from past MySims titles are still present in more subtle ways, but Agents marks a departure from the heavy building and socializing elements anyone who’s followed the series will be accustomed to. Apparently, you just don’t have time for time-intensive carpentry and extraneous chit-chat when there’s evil afoot. That’s fine, because doing detective work in the charming MySims world is a blast.
Cases start out horribly mundane, but they get wilder, sillier, and more involved as you progress. Initially, you’ll try to settle a dispute over dog ownership, hunt down a burglar, and solve other menial tasks that introduce gameplay elements and how things work. It doesn’t take too long before your good deeds and detective skills garner positive attention, and the real adventure begins once you’re hired on as a special agent. With higher status also comes better gear. You’ll have access to a high-tech magnifying glass detector to pick up invisible footprints, an F-Space Manipulator that lets you move items around in designated areas, and a Swiss army knife-like tool that can be used on mechanical parts, among other gadgets. The badge also comes with a slick headquarters and the ability to recruit and command other agents. This is where a few familiar MySims mechanics arise.
The HQ serves as the central hub and base of operations for the adventure. You can deck it out from top-to-bottom with unique decorations and special essence-imbued furniture items that influence the abilities of agents assigned to individual floors. Recruits can be grouped into units on different floors designed to complement their interests. From there, you can send them out on a ton of different dispatch missions for a chance to obtain new furniture and other decorations for your base. Any agents out on assignment will send you text message updates on how their mission is progressing while you’re out and about doing your own investigations. You’re free to spend as much time pursuing HQ improvements and side-missions as you choose to, and it is a nice way to incorporate aspects from past games into the different flow and formula found in Agents.
Working out in the field on investigations requires a lot of character interaction, exploration, and deductive reasoning. Agents also throws some mild platforming elements into the gameplay, particularly in the latter portion of the quest, and a handful of puzzle mini-games to mix things up. You’ll use the Wii Remote to tackle sliding lock puzzles, connect DNA sequences by placing colored dots in the proper configuration, fix mechanical objects by placing gears and other pieces in the right spots, and hack into computers by guiding a dot through an electronic data maze. The controls during these tasks are tight and intuitive. However, in the main adventure gameplay, the Nunchuk and Wii Remote combo has a few awkwardly mapped buttons that take some getting used to (jumping especially) and make the platforming portions tricky. The inability to manually adjust or rotate the camera can also be frustrating at times.
MySims titles are known for their lovable personality and high customizability, and Agents doesn’t skimp in either of these areas. At the start of the game you have total control over your agent’s appearance, and you’ll unlock scores of outfits, uniforms, and accessories to change in and out of throughout the game. Oddly, Dead Space fans will be excited to learn you can even obtain and wear Isaac Clarke’s mask and suit. Like many other unusual outfit combinations you can wear, it’s a bit creepy and hilarious. The other characters you interact with are extremely expressive, and jabber on in the goofy Simlish while delivering some truly funny dialogue. Elsewhere, the graphics are crisp and colorful, keeping with the style of the previous games, though there are definitely some minor visual improvements in the settings you’ll explore.
Change can be a good thing, and most of the tweaks found in MySims Agents fall under that category. Some players will undoubtedly lament the loss of expansive construction mechanics and the more elaborate character relationship building found in past games, but EA set out to switch things up with a more plot-focused game. The experiment is largely a success, and anyone with even a passing interest in the MySims franchise will find Agents’ adorable characters, funny story, and other endearing qualities outweigh any minor foibles that arise along the way. You have many hours of investigating ahead, so get to it!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.2 Graphics
Super stylish and lovable characters are matched by highly detailed cartoonish settings. 3.7 Control
Some awkward button configurations take some getting used to, but they don’t mar the fun. 4.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Simlish is adorable as ever, and the characters’ expressions and mannerisms are a huge draw. 4.0
Though very different from the past games, this adventure-heavy variation is a lot of fun.
4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.