Be the most adorable secret agent on the block.
EA has seen a mountain of opportunities with the MySims franchise. Ever since its first release in 2007 on the Wii, the charming characters have partied hard, saved a kingdom, and participated in go-kart races in order to save a sleepy town. The lovable MySims return once more in their third spin-off game, MySims Agents, a title that is both the most original MySims adventure and the best to date.
A very important theme in the MySims games is that of helping others, and MySims Agents promptly follows suit. Players will take on the role of a neighborhood detective during the game's first missions. Once these missions are accomplished, the player will be accepted into a secret agency that is investigating the evil corporation Morcu Corp. Its leader, Morcubus, the series' main antagonist, might be working on an experiment called "The Nightmare Crown". This will force the characters to travel all over the world, view exotic locales, and meet lots of eccentric characters in a story that is intriguing while never taking itself too seriously.
The previous stories in the MySims series were always fun and charming, even if they were secondary. But in MySims Agents, the story is a key element to the enjoyment of the title, and thus has received a substantial upgrade in terms of plot while keeping the charm and wit the series is known for.
MySims Agents starts as a simple adventure title as humble as the beginnings of its lead character. When the game starts, the player is merely a neighborhood detective taking on small cases, which serve as the game's introduction to its mechanics. But once these cases are solved, you catch the attention of a secret agent, beginning a lengthy and even in-depth adventure. One of the first things you earn with your new secret agent rank is your own headquarters in the city. The headquarters will serve as the game's main hub, where the player will be debriefed on the events going on in the storyline.
When a lead on the Morcubus case is discovered, the player is sent to a scene to investigate a small piece of the plot. The first thing to do upon arrival is to talk to the people present and get their side of their story, to see if they are hiding anything that may bring new angles to the case. Once a believable story is found, it is up to the player to investigate the whole scene. Usually, an important item is missing so in order to find out where it was taken, the footsteps of the suspect can be tracked down using a magnifying glass.
There a small element of platforming in MySims Agents, especially during the later levels. Players can use a special gadget that will allow them to move objects around to create steps that will help them reach high places. The secret agent must also be wary of high places, as he or she needs to get to the other side by traveling down a small plank or branch. Jumping from building to building in order to find the odd clue is another useful skill.
During key moments, players will have to partake in various mini-games in order to get the desired clue and move the plot forward. If a door is locked, players can pick the lock by playing a sliding puzzle mini-game. If some DNA evidence is found or the agent needs to determine if the element is legit, a "connect the dots" mini-game appears as a form of analysis. In this mini-game, players have to connect the DNA dots in the right order so the evidence can be successfully analyzed. If there's a machine or object that is essential in solving a mystery, but it is damaged, a mini-game emerges where the player has to properly place the parts. Finally, it wouldn't be a secret agent game without hacking. If a video camera hides footage of the suspect, or a computer has a vital piece of data, the agent will hack it by guiding a dot of light through a maze.
In addition to the main case, there are additional side missions that can be found at HQ. Though you won't be able to participate in them, you can recruit new agents and send them to help solve these cases. During the main adventure, the agents and even the client will call the agent's cell phone and inform the progress of the case. It's a very clever way of adding interactivity to the game, even if the player doesn't get to directly participate in it.
What's important about the side missions is that success is dependent on the agents' skills, which can be modified according to how you decorate the levels of the HQ. In MySims Agents, the tradition of customizing your surroundings is present and accounted for. You can find new items, decorations, and even music that to stylize the room. These items are labeled under five different categories: paranormal, smarts, athletic, charisma, and nature. The items placed in the room will affect the agents' stats. The cases themselves will also be labeled in one of these categories. The higher the teams are in any of these stats, the better chances they have of successfully completing the case.
Successful completion of the cases (both main and secondary) can earn players new costumes and accessories to deck out their character, trophies that work as the game's achievements, and even new characters to recruit and deploy to cases.
MySims Agents surprises in its robust gameplay. A lot of thought and planning went into this new iteration of the franchise, and it shows. Levels are large, allowing the player to explore every nook and cranny. The implementation of stats for the side missions is a clever one and will have players experimenting with a layout that maximizes the agents' stats. There are also a lot of goodies to discover. It is also a moderately long title, with more than ten hours of gameplay. It is also quite balanced in terms of challenge. It is easy enough for any younger player to enjoy, but with enough challenge to keep older players interesting and even hooked. It's one of the best games to play with the family.
The look of the game is also fantastic. Even if it uses some of the same character models from previous games, it does a great job of taking the classic MySims characters and giving them a look that fits the secret agent storyline well. The worlds are also very colorful and detailed, running at a smooth frame rate. Even the music is pleasant to hear, with a soundtrack that changes in real time according to the scene or the level the characters are in at the moment. Of course, the Sims speech remains as charming as ever.
This, however, doesn't mean that the game is perfect. As wonderful as the story is, it has the tendency of dragging in places, affecting the pace of the gameplay. Some of the cut scenes are very chatty, and if the player isn't a fan of the Sims speech, it can be a potential turn-off. The game can also get redundant, thanks to a lot of backtracking and performing the same actions over and over again. Finally, the mini-games also get tedious during the later segments, especially the DNA forensics game.
Despite these flaws, EA has constructed a great game anyone from fans of the series to newcomers can enjoy. It is easily one of the most original games in the series, thanks to its globetrotting, mystery-solving theme along with gameplay that recalls classic game conventions while successfully putting a MySims theme on it. This is one mission players will not regret taking on.