MySims Agents Review: Sherlock Holmes Didn't Have To Deal With This $#@%S

Sure, England's famous fictional detective had a cocaine addiction, but Sherlock Holmes never had to put up with his cell phone going off every fifteen seconds.

The detectives in MySims Agents perhaps aren't in the same class as Holmes. For one thing, they never solve murders and don't get into martial arts smack down fights with any evil professors. Instead, the Agent you play as is asked to unravel rumors, keep track of their employees via text message and get to the bottom of an old mystery involving missing persons, evil artifacts, a yeti and a zombie.

Yeah, Sherlock had it easy.

Loved
Strong Linear Gameplay: MySims Agents shifts the series away from open-ended gameplay where you go pretty much anywhere you want and build stuff for other Sims. Instead, Agents features linear gameplay around a central story plus some side-quests to keep you busy in between story missions. This is a good change for the series because it gives the player a goal to work toward, and it gives MySims the chance to build out characters in a consistent environment. Much better than just randomly building stuff in a hodgepodge world where rocket ships and cowboys somehow exist alongside medieval stuff.

Fixed Camera: A big gripe for fans of the series is the camera. It's hard to line it up, it's finicky, it gets stuck – the usual complaints. Most of these issues are addressed in Agents with a fixed camera angle that the user can't control. It lines itself up for a good perspective when you go into build mode (which is mostly used to decorate your Agent headquarters), and pans back to show you what you need to see in order to solve mysteries or complete jumping puzzles.

Freaking Adorable: I spent almost the whole game playing in the Isaac Clarke suit from Dead Space. It was hilarious and adorable – two things Agents is good at being. From the funny dialog to the subtle background actions (like your partner randomly falling on his face), the game goes out of its way to amuse and entertain even cynical gamers who'd much rather play Mirror's Edge than watch their younger sibling and/or girlfriend play through Agents.

Not A Walk In The Part: Yes, it's a kid's game and yes it's cutesy – but it's a mistake to assume that Agents is totally easy. About half of the game involves puzzles, like jumping puzzles, maze puzzles and mini-game puzzles that occur whenever you need to pick a lock or analyze a sample. As the game progresses, the mini-game puzzles get pretty complex. It shames me to say I got stuck on one of the chemistry puzzles where you have to bond molecules together in specific patterns so that one too many of them aren't touching. But, hey, being challenged is better than being bored.

Hated
Changing Clothes: A big draw of Agents is finding or unlocking new stuff like decorations for your HQ, paint for the walls, little trophies for the trophy case, or spiffy costumes like the Isaac Clarke suit. The problem is, changing into the clothes you find is a right pain in the ass. Not only does it entail a couple of loading screens, the wardrobe system makes it hard to find just the right combo of stuff by filing different pieces of clothing in various categories. If you pick the wrong category to find the Isaac Clarke suit, you can't just back to the outfit selection menu — you get dumped out of the whole wardrobe system and have to go through the loading screens all over again 'til you find the right outfit. Trifling, sure, but still a pain.

Intrusive Wiimote Notification: I'm not sure if this is Nintendo's fault for having high standards or the developer's fault for not coming up with a better solution. Either way, when your Wiimote is running a little low on battery (say, down to the last bar), a notification pops up in Agents. The problem is it pauses gameplay with no warning. Also, it can totally mess up your jump if this happens in the middle of the jumping puzzle. Even worse, there's no way to turn off the notifications or make them less intrusive. So while you could in fact play the entire 7-8 main game with only one bar of battery like I did, you're not going to want to. Because the effing game keeps interrupting you.

Maybe A Bit Too Repetitive For Some: Most adventure games can be broken down into go-here-talk-to-this-guy-solve-puzzle-repeat patterns. I have no problem with this in Agents because it's a kid's game and kids need repetition to learn stuff (like how to solve those effin' chemistry puzzles). However, jaded gamers might get super-frustrated when they find that all the cases in the game follow the same pattern. Sometimes the writing is funnier in one case than another and the setting is always dramatically different – but that might not be enough to break up the monotony.

People have a sad habit of saying "game X is a good game… for the Wii." As if a game on the Wii can't just be good all by itself. MySims Agents fixes this problem for me, because I feel like I can say it's a good game. Period.

It could be on any other system and I would say the same thing: it's fun, appropriately long with decent controls and appealing visuals. If there's more to being a good game than that, I'd have to hire a professional detective to determine what that could possibly be. And since I don't have the money to waste, let's just say Agents is a good game. Case closed.

MySims Agents was developed by The Sims Studio and published by EA for the Wii and DS. Released on September 29 for $50 and $30 respectively. Played through the main story mode and finished about half of the dispatch missions to work toward the secret ending. Spent almost all of that time in the Isaac Clarke suit because it's awesome.

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