MySims PC DVD
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
MySims on both the Wii and DS proved to be a successful offshoot of The Sims series and both versions felt at home on their respective systems. It's a little odd then that a game that was purposely created for a home console and a handheld system has now found its way to the PC. It could be argued that the game has more in common with Nintendo's Animal Crossing than the PC versions of The Sims. There's certainly none of the micromanagement here that you'll find in either The Sims or The Sims 2 and in some respects it's less of a chore to play.
Your first task will be to create your character and choose a name for your town. When you're done the game will then show your character arriving in their new town. Essentially the task before you is to restore the town to its former glory. The town is initially in a rundown state. Previously there had been a special resident who had the power to use Essences to build virtually anything. When this special resident left however, the town began to slowly fall apart. As luck would have it, you also have the same special ability and it's up to you to use Essences to restore the town and build everything its inhabitants’ desire.
You'll begin by building your home and workshop before going on to do a few jobs for Mayor Rosalyn and then moving on to do jobs for the town's other few inhabitants. Jobs in MySims invariably involve you building what the citizens want and covering them in the required Essences. The more you please the inhabitants, the more new citizens will arrive to stay. New guests arrive at the town's hotel and it's up to you to create a suitable house for them and when they are settled in you'll have to build things for them. The town starts off small but as you progress in the game your star level will increase and you'll gain access to the tools that essentially unlock additional areas. These additional areas contain new Essences and can be developed to allow your town to expand and take in more citizens.
Essences come in many varieties but what is important is how they add certain qualities to objects. Your town's inhabitants have different Interests. These Interests are Cute, Fun, Tasty, Geeky, Studious and Spooky. Each Essence adds one of these Interest qualities to an object. For example, if you're making a table for a Sim who has a Spooky Interest then you'll want to add Essences that give the table a Spooky quality and therefore you'll actually be making the table more appealing for them. You'll obtain essences in all kinds of ways. Some grow on trees, some have to be dug up, some can be fished for and some have to be extracted from the Sims themselves by either being nice or nasty to them. Collecting Essences is a major component of the game and it's something you'll be doing a lot.
Another thing you'll be doing a lot in MySims is building. You'll get to build new homes for all kinds of people and you'll also get to build furniture and all kinds of objects that the citizens may require. Building objects is actually a pretty straightforward process. You simply pick up the required blocks and place them in the same position as the translucent blocks on the object's blueprint. Once you've placed all of the required blocks, you can add additional shaped blocks to give the object a unique look. For most objects in the game you'll also have to apply specific Essences to the blocks that make up the objects. For each Essence there are a handful of patterns to choose from. Of course you don't have to apply an Essence to every block that makes up an object and you can simply choose to paint the others. Whilst you can build houses in any style you desire (or remodel existing houses), it's a shame that the interiors always stay the same, regardless of the external appearances so if you have slanted external walls, on the inside they will appear perfectly normal.
Whilst the PC uses a keyboard and mouse control scheme, it doesn't feel that different from the Wii version (which is a testament to how good the Wii controls are). Where the game does differ is providing support for online play. The online aspect of the game is rather limited however. You can only interact, by playing games constructing buildings etc., with other players in a shared garden and not in each others' town. You'll need to have your town at star level 2 before you can play online and you can only play with those who are on your friends list. To a certain extent this is understandable because the game is primarily aimed at young children and it would be foolish to allow all and sundry to jump into games with children.
Aside from the game looking sharper than the Wii version, because it's running at a higher screen resolution, the PC version looks practically identical to the Wii version. The game has that almost cartoonish, cutesy look to it that will no doubt appeal to younger children. The Wii version suffered from some technical issues such as a frame rate that was inclined to stutter and dip significantly at times and the load times were numerous and rather long. The PC version certainly doesn't have any frame rate issues. The game isn't that demanding graphically speaking and you can configure the graphical quality and alter the screen resolution to suit your PC hardware. The numerous load times are still present, disappointingly, but virtually all of them only last a couple of seconds at the most which is a big improvement on the Wii version.
MySims is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. The Sims speak their usual brand of gibberish and all of the dialogue is shown in text. Any requests you are given are shown in text and any important conversations, such as when you meet Mayor Rosalyn at the start of the game, are shown in text. All important information and tutorial information is shown in text. When you're using the metal detector to try and find Essences small sound arcs will highlight when you are approaching the location of something that can be dug up. There are no captions for various sounds in the game such as when the Sims laugh or when Essences are extracted from their various sources but this poses no problems for deaf gamers.
With the exception of the ability to play online, this is the same version of MySims that appeared on the Wii last year. This certainly isn't a complaint however, especially as there isn't a game quite like it on the PC. The addition of online play is welcome but it doesn't add a lot to the experience and it is rather limited. Still you'll primarily be purchasing the game for the single-player content and it's every bit as enjoyable as it was on the Wii last year. Younger children in particular will enjoy what the game has to offer.