MySims Agents First Look
As a special agent MySim, we attempt to unravel the mystery behind the nefarious Morcubus.
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This has been a busy year for the MySims, with three new games across three completely different genres. MySims Agents wanders into the mystery adventure/puzzle-solving category in which you play as a special agent who's out to foil the sinister plans of the evil Morcubus, corrupt CEO of MorcuCorp. At an Electronic Arts press event held in Los Angeles, we were able to take a tour of several locations in the Wii version of the game, as well as put our puzzle-solving skills to the test. This looks to be the most in-depth MySims experience yet, considering the amount of exploration that you can do and the challenging minigames within.
The ultimate goal is to bring down Morcubus, but along the way you'll solve a variety of other cases. As these smaller mysteries are solved, you'll come across clues and possibly new leads in the Morcubus case. However, you're not the only one doing the detective work; you can dispatch agents into the field and hope that they come back successful. Your headquarters has five floors, each with its own statistics. You can modify these floors by adding more gym equipment to boost the athletic rating of the floor. Fortunately, there's a good reason behind doing all of this interior decorating. Each agent has his or her own personality, and depending on which floor you assign them to, their percentage of success will increase if their personality matches the stats of the floor. As you're off collecting clues and interrogating the locals, your agents will call in and report their progress, and they may even ask you for some advice.
As with all MySims games, you get to customize your own character so that you can perform your detective duties in a variety of costumes. We started off in a quaint little town, which acts as a hub in which you can visit all of your favorite MySims to see what they are up to. MySims Agents lets you fully explore your environment, so you can jump onto rooftops and walk across telephone wires--balancing carefully with the analog stick--to reach nearby buildings. The ability to be able to do some light platforming gives you the freedom to see so much more than you normally would from just the ground level.
You also have access to some nifty gadgets that let you scan your environment and move things around. The F space manipulator can be brought out only if there is a mana vent, which lets you move objects around in the environment. This can be used to redecorate your headquarters, but it's also used to solve environmental puzzles. For example, we wandered into a dusty old library and had to use the F space manipulator to move a few boxes around, creating a staircase for us to climb onto the top of a bookshelf.
The super detector is another handy tool that scans your environment for clues, such as footprints. As you progress through the game, you can also upgrade your gadgets so your detector can eventually detect radio waves, sounds, and even smells. If you happen to find curious animal prints, you can send the data back to the forensics lab, triggering a minigame in which you must stabilize atoms. You start off with a grid and several atoms already locked in. Each atom has a specific number of dots on it to indicate the number of atoms to which it can connect. Using the remaining atoms that you have, you must place them all on the grid that satisfies each atom's number. It's a simple concept, but it also requires some thinking--or trial and error--to get it right. The difficulty of these puzzles also increases throughout the game.
Other minigames will appear when you have to pick locks, hack computers, or fix a broken water pump. What's great about MySims Agents is that these minigames are not the button-mashing, remote-waggling type of games that you may be used to seeing on the Wii; they're individual puzzles with some very clever designs.
Using your uber-techno tool on doors, it brings you to a lock-picking game. This particular game involves finding a way to slide a key across a grid full of blocks that are in the way, like Klotski but with more limitations. The individual blocks can shift only in the direction in which the arrows are pointing, so using the limited amount of space that you have, you need to shuffle these pieces around to free a path for the key to get out. Another thought-provoking puzzle was the water pump. You've come across puzzles that involve belts and gears in the previous MySims game, but this time you have an entire screen dedicated to the puzzle and a limited amount of pipes, gears, and belts. This is where you need to use what limited engineering skills you have to connect the water pipes and get all of the gears turning.
When you're not using your brain to solve these puzzles, you're visiting exotic locations and picking up new leads and clues to jot down in your notebook. As you talk to people and find useful tidbits of information, your notebook will automatically update and give you a checklist of things to follow up on. This way, you can always keep track of what you were working on, in case you have to come back to the game days or weeks later. Your notes are separated into leads, clues, and items that you may have picked up along the way. As you gather clues, you can eventually present your evidence and solve the mystery at hand.
What's impressive about MySims Agents is that the charming and delightful formula of the previous games has been expanded. You're exploring more exciting locations this time around, such as jungle temples and spooky mansions. The areas themselves feel bigger, and you have the ability to move around town by train and even hop onto your own private jet. The characters are goofy and silly, which keeps the atmosphere of the game lighthearted and fun. Buddy is back as your sketch artist, given that he's an aspiring comic-book writer now. He'll accompany you on your missions, and while you're off gathering clues in the jungle, he's made himself at home by taking over someone's camp and starting to roast marshmallows. It's these little details that we notice because they show a lot of personality that we don't always get, or notice, from nonplayer characters in a game.
We look forward to seeing more MySims Agents as it gears up for a fall release on the Wii and Nintendo DS. The handheld version has the same idea, but the story and minigames will be different. Be sure to check back for more updates as we head into the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June.
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