Reviewed: October 19, 2010
Released: September 29, 2010
The sixth iteration in Electronic Arts’ MySims series – something of a spin-off from the uber popular Sims series, only with a cutesy, super-deformed art style probably geared more toward a young audience – MySims SkyHeroes features aerial races, speed challenges, and dogfights, all featuring a customizable pilot character and multiple aircraft in the trademark MySims style.|
SkyHeroes is simple and perhaps not particularly inventive, but it’s certainly enjoyable. The Story Mode is, as you might have guessed, the meat of the game, encompassing 42 different missions. Once again, returning MySims villain Morcubus is a thorn in your side, and your custom Sim—an amnesiac crash victim and pilot rescued by the rebels—is leading the resistance against his plot to monopolize the skyways. You’ll be traveling to a number of cheerily designed locales to train, reconnoiter, foil the enemy, and recruit more rebel fighters.
Each location has a number of missions, each a race, dogfight, or some type of combination skill challenge. Managing to meet the criteria for first, second, or third place will unlock upgrades and collectible goodies, such as aircraft parts, logos, MySim characters, and gameplay perks for your customizing pleasure. The challenges can be a lot of fun, though they do begin to feel similar after a while. I especially enjoyed the more cinematic unique missions, such as the timed challenge for destroying the enemy’s orbital satellite system. In fact, I wouldn’t have minded if almost every mission had been unique instead of the more common races and dogfights.
There are, of course, a couple other standard game modes: Quick Play and Multiplayer. Quick Play, as you might guess, is the typical free play mode that allows you to choose from a variety of game types, MySims, and maps. Multiplayer theoretically allows up to 10 players to play together online at once, but it might not be particularly easy to find other gamers playing SkyHeroes online.
For people who prefer playing with others in their own living rooms, up to two local players can play competitively or cooperatively in a split-screen mode. The matches are customizable, allowing you to set the victory conditions, damage, power-ups, and other features, and can be pretty fun. The second player can’t customize their own MySim, unfortunately, but they can choose from the many characters you can unlock in Story Mode.
No matter which mode you choose, however, the mechanics are basically the same. The game plays like an aerial version of Mario Kart, and you can invert the controls for more intuitive flight, if you like. You fly your Sim around one of several maps, each with a unique layout, hazards, and distribution of power-ups. These temporary power-ups include tornadoes, speed boosts, giant lasers, orbital strikes, shotguns, and various other flashy effects that may hinder your enemies or give you a helpful boost.
Barring those, you always have a regular gun (which you can use to shoot down the competition, even in races) and a couple homing missiles (available in dogfights only). The intuitive controls and interface are just complicated enough to cover all the basics—such as navigation, various weapon types, and evasive flying—while remaining simple enough for the average gamer to pick up quickly.
It doesn’t hurt, either, that the 12 maps are each distinctly designed, diversely themed, and brightly rendered. Ranging from a fiery, East Asia-inspired palace to a futuristic city to a lushly overgrown island temple, there’s a stage to suit most tastes, and each map has its own secret areas to discover. The blocky MySims characters are also as adorably individualized and animated as ever. The simple shapes of SkyHeroes’ graphics and clear interface text and objects, while nothing spectacularly fancy, display crisply and clearly on the 360 and look attractive for what they are.
The music and sound are on par with previous MySims games, with familiar Simlish dialogue and a soundtrack that evokes the flight genre. They aren’t particularly remarkable, but they do the job just fine.
At the suggested price of $49.95, MySims SkyHeroes is priced like the standard game, but it’s probably a bit more lightweight than titles I’d typically purchase for that price. For a young gamer or someone buying this title for family-friendly aerial combat, though, it’s not a bad choice. The numerous customization parts and maybe 35 unlockable NPC’s (including guest appearances by other EA characters, such as Morrigan from Dragon Age and Shepard from Mass Effect) might keep collection-oriented gamers happy for some time.
MySims SkyHeroes is a fun enough dog fighting and racing game that does what it sets out to do and manages to get by with simple graphics by sticking to a clean and cute look. Maybe it doesn’t introduce any new features to the genre that I could identify, but it’s enjoyable and suitable for family entertainment, especially if you enjoy the cartoon art style and don’t mind a bit of good-natured goofiness in your game dialogue.