Review by casualgamer01

"This game is what you make of it"

MySims is the marmite of video gaming. You either love it or you hate it. It is undeniably a unique product that is more like a sandbox building simulator than a game. It has a unique graphical 'kiddie' charm and by God is this game kiddie. From the upbeat music to the childish happiness and glee the characters exhibit, this is not a game you're going to be showing your mates, or even admitting to your mates that you own. I usually don't mind kiddie games, in fact I usually go for the more 'kiddie' like games as they often have the sort of simplistic, fun gameplay I enjoy rather than the perceived older mainstream which generally involves shooting anything that moves and killing them in the most violent way possible. This game takes the biscuit though; I was almost embarrassed to be playing this game even on my own.

Story - 1/10

Simply put, there is no story to this game. The town you are placed in was once a thriving and happy community but has since become a desolate and almost deserted shell of its former self. Now you must rebuild the town to its former glory. That is the story in its entirety. Your 'success' is measured by a star rating system; the higher your star rating the better your town is, the more areas you have access to and the more Sims you have access to.

Gameplay - 4/10

The core of this game is its build mode. You move Sims in, build houses and then are tasked with building objects to furnish their houses. You can build pretty much whatever you want with a large amount of blocks with more to be unlocked and the ability to gather essences to decorate. These 'essences' are objects you find around town by fishing, prospecting and harvesting. Sims come in two flavours: townie and business owner. These are divided further into 6 personality types, although they serve no real purpose outside of gift giving because for a game touting to be part of the Sims franchise there is surprisingly little interaction or personality to the Sims. There are 4 persistent interaction options - Talk, Be Nice, Be Mean and Give present. Unlike the other Sims games, talking is both pointless and shallow. Sims will say one phrase to you and repeat it over and over on a consistent basis until perhaps you unlock a new area or such, which results in a new single phrase for them to repeat over and over. Be nice and be mean are used simply to make a Sim like or dislike you - no conflicting personalities here, it's simple as. Give present gives the Sim a created object, which will be covered later on.

Townies are simply Sims that will go about their daily lives and serve no real purpose other than to make up the numbers. Business owners are the ones that will be handing you tasks. These tasks are at the core all the same; build an object using a set amount of specific essences. To add some sense of progression to the game the developers have, to their credit, included some sort of rudimentary 'difficulty' curve to these tasks which, while the reasons behind adding it are understandable, ultimately stifle some of the creativity of the task. The further you get into the game, the more essences are required of each task. However when this game rests on the concept that you are creating everything the way you want, this can get annoying. Many times I have created an object and thought 'this is perfect' - however I haven't completed the task because I haven't used enough of a required essence. This has resulted in me adding many extra bits and pieces I didn't want just to make up the numbers.

Outside of tasks you can build whatever you wish using blueprints, blocks and essences you can gather throughout the game and that is all, I really mean outside of build mode there is precious little else to do. If you are a creative person you can easily spend hours upon hours building the perfect houses for your Sims and furnishing them with the objects you have built for them. There is a huge amount of objects to choose from to build and many, many essences to decorate with. The potential here for a creative person is staggering.

The problem with this game is that it is ultimately pointless - you can build what you want and befriend who you want but there's no reason to. There are many objects to build, from fridges to baths to ice cream bars but unlike the other Sims games, with no 'needs' they serve no purpose bar one or two exceptions. All the majority of the objects do is provide you with one or two animations to watch.

Graphics - 5/10

There is no doubt this game has a very unique style to it and I applaud it for that, in fact it was partly the game's graphical style that made me buy the game. The problem is, they do nothing to even remotely push the system. There is nothing here that could not have been accomplished last gen. This would be forgivable since this game is not shooting for realistic if this were not combined with the fact that despite the graphical simplicity of this game, there is horrendous lag. As if there were not frequent enough loading times, this game will lag at almost any given time for perhaps half a second to a couple or more. Sometimes when you are going to do something like break some rocks the sound and animation for the task do not even match up. Many times I've let the game sit for a second or two to catch up but then I realise: I am playing an offline, single player video game! This is disgraceful considering how little there is on screen at once and how simple everything looks. It really does detract from the experience.

The animation (or lack thereof) is also pretty pathetic. There are plenty enough of the (useless) animations when interacting with the objects you've built and other Sims but things like sitting on a chair or sleeping on a bed result in your Sim 'jumping' onto and off the object, very lazily skipping any sort of animation. This might have been forgivable since you are creating your own objects so there are things game cannot account for but when there are required blocks, such as a seat for a chair, and a large area on each blueprint marked red where you can't place anything due to the way the Sims use it, there's no reason why the animations for every object could not have been more fluent. There isn't even an animation for opening a door and you will see many fellow Sims often just vanish in front you you as they warp from place to place.

Lifespan - ?/10

This game really is what you make of it. If you are a creative person you could spend hours upon hours in build mode creating your perfect town, customising everything for you and your town members from their houses to their furnishing to their clothes. However if you are not a creative person then you will soon become bored once you realise there's nothing to do outside of build mode.

Summary

As mentioned earlier this is not a game, it is a sandbox building simulator - build mode will make or break the game for you. Don't be fooled by the Sims moniker, this game could be its own franchise and nobody would notice the difference. It is difficult not to see this game as a shot at trying to replicate the success of Nintendo's Animal Crossing franchise, but it falls far short of its goals. In Animal Crossing you can set your own goals that are completely independent from one another, from collect every fish to become rich to creating the perfect town and more. You can set your own goals in MySims too, from becoming best friends with everyone in town to having a 5 star town to creating your ideal house, but everything revolves around the build mode. There are no online options either, so you and you alone must be content with what you've created. This severely limits the already wafer thin gameplay. One for the creative people among us only.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 10/17/07

Game Release: MySims (EU, 09/21/07)


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