|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: The Sims Studio||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 29, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
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.