Review by Pilgrim Shadow
Not Quite The Sims, But a Lot of Fun
MySims could best be described as a cute diversion from the Sims line (or, more cynically, a cheap attempt by EA to cash in on name recognition of a best-selling game series). It has very few of the elements found in other Sims games, and if you're looking for a genuine Sims experience, you can stop right there. However, if you're willing to accept the game on its own merits, it has a lot to offer.
MySims places you in charge of building a city from the ground up - and no, it isn't like Sim City at all. You have control over how every building in town is constructed, how it is decorated, who moves in and who is forced to leave. Your task is to keep your citizens happy so that the town will gain a better rating and attract more people. You do this mainly by building furniture and imbuing it with "essences" found throughout the town. Different citizens ask for different essence. Early in the game, your tasks will be simple, but as your city grows, you'll be faced with more difficult challenges. You'll also be encouraged - and eventually forced - to build outside the furniture blueprints you're provided. You are never bound by the prefab designs, being required only to fill in certain key points to make an object useable.
The building is really the core of the game in MySims. You are given very few restrictions and are more or less free to explore your creativity. Creating an item costs you nothing, so when you're not tasked with making specific items, you can make gifts or fill your home with fantastic contraptions. It's a lot like playing in a living, breathing Lego city.
For all its great features, however, MySims has a few nagging problems. The foremost of these is lag. As your town becomes larger, you'll notice your framerate taking noticeable hits, often stuttering or even freezing entirely in brief but all-too-common spurts. While this doesn't make the game unplayable, it is frustrating. There are also considerable load times for almost every action, such as entering a home, moving furniture, or entering your workshop. The building itself can be grossly inexact at times, leading to pieces refusing to go where you want them or sliding over and under all the wrong places. This is mostly only an issue when deviating from a blueprint, but it can happen even when following the game's premade plans, despite the addition of a "snap-to" feature that removes much of the guesswork. The challenge of the game is also minimal, since it's possible to slap together truly abysmal furniture if you choose to and still earn praise from your town's virtual inhabitants just for including the few elements they requested.
Replay value for this game is mixed. While you could play it a dozen times and never get the same game twice, the core elements never really change and never feel fresh. In many ways its more of a sandbox than a real game, so your mileage will vary.
All in all, MySims is a fun and interesting game with truly engaging gameplay. It's non-violent, highly interactive, and encourages creativity, so it's perfect for all ages. However, the lack of any real difficulty, coupled with the inexcusable lag, make this a mixed bag. If designing your own furniture appeals to you, give it a shot. If not, you might want to let this one pass.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: MySims (US, 09/18/07)
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