If Animal Crossing, Star Fox, and Top Gun had a baby, it would be this game.
EA's MySims franchise may not have gotten the popularity Nintendo's Animal Crossing series has enjoyed in the last few years, but that hasn't stopped the company for releasing games based on the characters and their universe. The sixth game in the series takes the blocky characters to the sky in an event can be best described as an adorable homage to the movie Top Gun, and its just as fun as the rest of the games in the franchise.
The story has series baddie Morcubus trying to make the lives of the characters miserable. This time, though, he is trying to take control of the skies by forcing rules and regulations on pilots in a plot ripped out of a TaleSpin episode. This is where you come in. Playing as a character who has lost his/her memory during an air crash, you join an elite group of pilots who are out to end Morcubus's reign of terror. You will take on various missions, including infiltrating enemy bases and convincing other pilots to join your cause. It is simple and at times very cheesy, but the story does add a lot of personality to what is essentially an arcade flight game.
A staple of the MySims franchise, Sky Heroes lets you customize many aspects of your experience, most notably the playable character and your aircraft. When you first load the game, you are given the task of creating your character. While you can create a character close to your liking, I find it disappointing that the options are still somewhat limited. Then you get to create your plane. This is important as every change you make to the plane will affect its stats, a vital component in the title's gameplay. As you complete missions, you earn new parts that you can use to either create new planes or update the ones you already have. This is a fun and addicting component that inspired me to keep playing MySims Sky Heroes beyond the main story.
Gameplay is divided into two modes: dogfights and races. Dogfights play and control similarly to the all-range mode in Star Fox 64. You fly around the stage defeating other characters or destroying key targets, such as shield generators that are scattered throughout key locations. My problem with this mode lies in how the missions are structured. In Story Mode, you must complete the missions with a rank of gold, silver, or bronze. Depending on what you achieve, you unlock new features and parts. The problem is that you must complete these missions in any of these rankings, otherwise the mission will be incomplete, even if you do manage to achieve the task. This makes completing the game very annoying, especially in the harder levels where the enemies are hard to target and you don't have the right equipment to tackle it.
Luckily, the gameplay is very polished outside of the story mode. The plane controls are smooth and very responsive. You will learn how to control your aircraft in no time. You can take these new skills and participate in the game's multiplayer component. There are dogfights and races for both local multiplayer and six-player online multiplayer. While writing this review, matches were very few and far between, but the ones that I did find ran smoothly and were entertaining.
The presentation in the MySims series has never been technologically impressive, but they manage to bring a smile to many a player thanks to the use of color, clever stage design, and likable characters. Much like its bretheren the Sims series, the MySims characters talk in a fictional Sim-like speech that can get repetitive, but a wide range of character is expressed, such as anger, happiness, and even dark emotions. The stages are beautiful, featuring many great designs, such as tentacles that pop out of the sea, giant enemy bases, and lush tropical islands. Unfortunately, the game tends to slow down during some of the busier battle scenes, but it isn't that distracting in the enjoyment of the title.
To sum it all up, MySims Sky Heroes proudly mantains the franchise's tradition of easy-to-learn, fun gameplay that takes place in a world brimming with personality. It's too bad that the mission structure in the story mode is annoying, but the rest of the modes make up for its faults. If you love the MySims series, then you shouldn't pass up on this solid title.