May 9, 2007 - Late Wednesday night from its San Francisco-based Summer Preview event, Electronic Arts pulled back the curtain on a more playable version of MySims for Wii than we've previously seen. For fans still unfamiliar with the project, think Sims, except with a cuddly new makeover complete with Mii-like character designs and environments to fit, and, of course, Wii pointer-enhanced controls. The premise is pretty straightforward, but so far so good. We've got a few more details on how everything works below.
MySims begins with at the character creation level. You're treated to a very basic 3D model and given the tools, combined wIth the power of the Wii remote, to fully customize it. It's not as detailed as we initially suspected. You won't be able to use the remote to manually draw facial features, for example. However, you can with a simple point and tap of the A button modify the looks of eyes, mouths, noses, hairstyles, skin tones, and more. And on top of that, you can tweak outfits to your liking. You don't so much pick a specific set of eyes or nose as you simply click on these facial features and tap the button, at which point the next selection appears. The mechanic, like just about every option in MySims for Wii, is designed to be immediately accessible, but it's also robust enough -- you will be able to create dramatically different Sims characters using the features at your disposal.
Once you've got your Sim, you're asked to a build a house and again, this mechanic works hand-in-hand with the precision of the Wii remote. Your taken to a 3D plain and shown a grid that represents the area where you can place your newly customized home Then, you use the Wii remote to grab building blocks -- everything from bases to windows, doorways, and rooftops -- and place them on or near each other. It's really that simple. If you don't like an Asian-influenced rooftop, just grab it and toss it aside, then click on your building blocks palette located near the bottom of the screen and try another. You can point to and click on portions of your home to cycle through different colors or, we assume, apply original textures as they become available.
One thing we noticed in our play tests with MySims Wii is that the pointer interface is responsive and smooth, not jittery. Moving through the interface and picking up objects feels very much as it does in Wii Sports -- good, in other words.
Only a couple of gameplay objectives were demonstrated, but even with only a glance at what's there we can tell that much of the experience will revolve around the collection of essence, a kind of currency that is gained as you exact influence or accomplish goals throughout the world. If you make another AI character happy, you may obtain essence that can then be be used to help create a bed, apply texture to it, and so forth. How you choose to approach the world and present your Sims, though, is up to you. If you want to be a happy-go-lucky do-gooder, you have that option. You can perform actions such as blowing bubbles to please other Sims around you. Alternatively, you can be mean. Both responses will help shape the world around you.
As we played, we eventually gained access to a crowbar, which we were able to use to break open a previously boarded-up passageway and gain access to a new sub-world off the main village. It was the forest area announced and briefly previewed by EA a couple months ago. Apparently there will be additional areas to explore off the main hub, if that's really what it can be labeled.
Control in MySims seems to be as simplified as nearly every other facet of the experience. You move your character through the world with the nunchuk's analog stick, zoom the camera in and out with D-Pad up or down on the Wii remote, and rotate the camera with D-Pad left or right. You can and must point at various objects and Sims throughout the world with the Wii remote to interact with them. And those are the basics. The world itself appears to be very interactive. You can, for instance, jump into a fountain and splash around with your character or you can alternatively place them atop a park bench, at which point they will lie down and take a nap.
As usual, we quizzed EA representatives on the possibility of both DS-to-Wii link functionality and online play, but they had no comment except to say that we might hear about online features, maybe, in the future.
MySims runs in 16:9 and 480p on Wi and moves at a steady framerate with only the occasional dip. The title employs an intentionally colorful, approachable look and style and worlds and characters are comprised of fewer polygons and less defined textures than we're seeing in most next-generation games. However, the title does not look sloppy or sub-par -- the visuals are clearly the result of an an art choice and not because of technical limitations.
We'll have much more on MySims in the near future.