GC: Hands on with MySims DS
Because real life just isn't cute enough
The Leipzig Games Convention is held in Germany. The clue is in the title: Leipzig's in Germany, you see. And that, perhaps, was why German was the default language in the demo of EA's reinvention of its Sims series for the Nintendo platforms.
Still, the Sims speak their own language, so playing the game 'auf Deutsch' wasn't actually that troublesome.
The demo began with character creation. Offering a simple Mii-like menu for choosing hair, eye types and face shapes, we opted to give our character a fringe-tastic emo-do, with some dark clothes to match.
With our surly (but cute) character ready to go, it was on with the game. As soon as the level loaded, we were struck by its similarity to Animal Crossing: Wild World, something EA seems to be making a habit of for its DS titles, in light of EA Playground's similar look.
We were soon prompted by one cute Sim to visit another cute Sim, who then in turn suggested we visit another cute Sim. Okay, we got the message (and the icon on the mini-map also helped).
We worked out where to go, and once there we went through the sort of paper-scissors-stone relationship interaction that's typical of The Sims 2 games, whereby you have the choice of various emotes such as talk, laugh or hug, as prompted by the behaviour of the other character. Get enough of the sequence right and you become friends. Get it wrong, and they storm off in a huff.
Actually, at this early stage of the game it seemed impossible not to make friends with the likeable Sim, although we did notice we had only racked up level 1 on a relationship bar that looked like it went up to six or seven.
Anyhow, we didn't have time for such scrutinising as we were prompted to wander off in search of another cute Sim to try and make friends withï¿½
Now, it might sound a little harsh to reduce the sum total of gameplay to this level, but equally, we can't escape the fact this is how the start of the game played out.
Of course, this isn't to say that this sort of paint-by-numbers title won't be a hoot to play when you get further into the flow. Indeed, the gentle pace of moving between locations and interacting with various idiosyncratic characters should make for a tranquil and relaxing gaming experience. There is also a good chance that had we had the benefit of dialogue we could understand, we would have been further engrossed by the whole thing.
And there are the customisation and mini-game aspects to consider, too. The scope present in being able to model many aspects of the game ï¿½ from buildings to furniture ï¿½ should add serious depth and longevity to the proceedings.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to play with the creation tool responsible for this aspect of the game. If it is as easy to use as the character creation tool (we should point out the controls are almost entirely stylus-based, making everything pretty intuitive to get to grips with), MySims could easily attract a small crowd of obsessives.
We did at least get play a mini-game. Simple but fun, it involved taking pictures (still using the stylus). Presumably other mini-games will offer more challenge, but then again, it is really the ability to customise your own town that should serve as the fundamental appeal of the MySims experience.
The game is due for release on September 21st but we should have a more in-depth look at the game for you before then.