Too Much Fluff, Not Enough Flight
Although the MySims franchise had a shaky start, the series seemed to have found its stride in recent years by creating MySims-friendly versions of classic game genres. From the construction-friendly MySims Kingdom to the high-speed MySims Racing, there have been plenty of examples where the series has succeeded in balancing genre conventions with a MySims twist. Unfortunately MySims SkyHeroes is a bit of a stumbling block. Though the game has plenty of kid-friendly aerial gameplay, the formula applied here feels too monotonous, and in a series that strives to make experiences fun, MySims SkyHeroes feels dreadfully dull.
The sad part is that MySims SkyHeroes doesn’t start off too terribly. Like all other MySims games, you start by creating a chubby little Sim who will be the game’s hero. The Sim creation options here are pretty standard, with the exception of a few aeronautically-themed items. After you are done creating your Sim, you also get the chance to choose the shape and color of your Sim’s new plane. However, the game wisely advises you not to take too much time worrying about the plane, as you will be able to keep several customizable planes in your inventory after only a handful of levels.
Once you are done setting up all your customization elements, you are thrust into the world of SkyHeroes. Your character takes the part of an amnesic pilot who has some serious skills, but can’t remember who they are or where they are from. The story then evolves into a clichéd good vs. evil story involving the nefarious Morcubus corporation. Although there are some cute and humorous moments, the story never really develops into anything compelling, even on the kiddie-scope. There are good guys, bad guys, and a paper-thin conflict that makes Sesame Street look complex.
Still, the MySims games have never been much for plot, so the lack of any meaningful story isn’t really all that surprising. What is very disappointing (and tanks the game overall) is the extreme repetition featured in the gameplay. The game’s missions are set up into two groups: dogfighting and racing. And while you wouldn’t expect too much variety in a flying sim game, the watered-down flying in MySims SkyHeroes gets old fast. The game takes an almost kart racing-like approach to the flying and fighting, and you’ll have to zoom around finding power-ups and using them on foes to find success. It’s a bit like Mario Kart in the air, but with a lot more monotony. Although there are some interesting level designs, none of them make the gameplay feel really interesting after an hour or two, and it’s hard not to get the feeling that you could play a majority of the game with your eyes closed after only a few levels. Even if you are thinking about purchasing this game for a younger gamer, I doubt the game’s repetitive nature would hold a child’s interest for very long, and the inconsistency of the AI might even be a turn-off for them.
There is one other problem with SkyHeroes I feel compelled to mention, but be forewarned, this criticism applies only to inexperienced/younger players. The AI is ridiculously difficult to work with in dogfighting mode. When you are participating in dogfighting matches, the game will give you AI teammates that are supposed to help you win against the level’s baddies. However, these buddies quickly become enemies themselves, as they will frequently steal kills and rack up more points than you, which makes it harder to get the points/ranking to move on to the next phase of the game. While this challenge may be welcome for seasoned gamers, I’m not sure if MySims’ targeted demographic will appreciate this added challenge.
However, there is a bright spot for MySims SkyHeroes: there are some fun multiplayer options. In keeping with the kart-racer template, MySims SkyHeroes features a fairly robust local multiplayer mode which allows you to either team up with or against friends in the game’s dogfighting and racing modes. The quickplay multiplayer modes are also completely unlocked from the beginning of the game, so you don’t have to worry about unlocking your favorite “bonus” character (both Isaac Clarke from Dead Space and Commander Shepherd have to be unlocked for use in story mode) and you can pretty much go through all of the content in the story mode without having to spend more time on any one of the game’s modes than you want to. If you want to take the action online, you’ll have fewer options, but the experience is well-transferred here as well. Though I was only able to find a single competitive dogfighting after thirty minutes of matchmaking, I’m chalking that issue up to the fact that MySims SkyHeroes is a new game and may not have a high install base right off the bat (we are talking about a game geared towards children here).
Technically, MySims SkyHeroes is proficient enough, and features the same cutesy visuals that fans of the series have come to know and love. However, the level design isn’t exactly the best, and while there is plenty of space to fly around in, the landscape isn’t exactly the most interesting. Repetitive elements and empty spaces make this game’s world feel monotonous, and it was easy to become disoriented because there aren’t that many landmarks you can use to identify different areas of each stage.
MySims SkyHeroes has an interesting premise, and I really wish it had been a little bit more realized. With so few modes, and some strange choices regarding level design and AI difficulty, MySims SkyHeroes feels mediocre at best, which is a shame considering the franchise has had some quality releases before. MySims SkyHeroes has a few memorable moments, and even though the multiplayer aspects are fun, the single player really tanks the experience, and makes this a hard title to recommend at full retail price.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.0 Graphics
Cutesy MySims visuals get the job done, but the environments lack detail. 3.8 Control
Flying controls are very simple and easy to pick up and play. 3.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is basic and inoffensive. Voiceovers are all done in Simlish and are very cute (if nonsensical.) 3.1 Play Value
Despite having some decent multiplayer options, MySims SkyHeroes has a weak single player mode, and will be frustrating to younger players. 3.3 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.