I went back for a second look at MySims Agents specifically to see the spooky mansion level. It turns out there's more to that level — and the game — than meets the eye.
The mansion is set up like the board game Clue, except nobody dies. Instead, somebody breaks something and your Sim has to find out who did it by going over every inch of the mansion for clues and questioning other Sims. I know you're thinking "Whatever, standard adventure game stuff for kids." But, dear cynical gamer, there's something here aimed directly at you, not at a kid.
On the second floor of the mansion, there are some portraits you can interact with. Peer at a smaller one toward the right of the collection and who should be staring back at you but Faith from Mirror's Edge. Later, with some dedicated snooping and side mission completion, you can score an Isaac Clarke outfit from Dead Space for your secret agent Sim to wear.
Little details like this make up a lot of the MySims Agents experience. This makes sense, because the game is about becoming a star detective — and you won't get far on that path without an eye for details like strange portraits, footprints or hair salons. Throughout the game, you level up your snooping skills by upgrading gadgets and improving personal stats like charisma. You also build out your detective agency's headquarters and recruit other Sims to work for you.
That's another important detail I missed in my first look: the dispatch missions. Sure, I saw one of them and wrote about it — but I didn't grasp quite how important they were to the game as a whole. There are a total of 50 dispatch missions that you can send your recruited Sims out to solve. While a dispatch mission is in progress, your Agent Sim will receive texts on how the mission is going and sometimes a random chance card in the form of a phone call. Completing dispatch missions raises your Agent's relationship with client. Raise a relationship high enough and you can recruit that Sim to work for you (or just dance around like a moron) in your HQ. Once you finish all the dispatch missions, you'll get to see not one, but two alternate endings after finishing the main part of the game.
I've said before that I get the feeling Agents is taking the MySims series in a different direction than previous games. Before (in, say, MySims Kingdom), the series was mostly about building things and visiting familiar characters from within the series. It was isolating to the point where I was embarrassed to play MySims Racing without a child companion to use as an excuse. But now — what with Dead Space references and an actual plot — I feel like the series is moving toward a type of game that could appeal to everybody despite being designed with a younger audience in mind. Kind of like Pixar films in the Disney lineup.
MySims Agents is out September 29.