Support Andy, click to buy via us...
Sims is one of the most successful video game franchises that tasks players with micro managing the life and habitat of one or more virtual doll. The My Sims range on the Wii takes this concept and tailors it for a more casual audience - which involves something of a switch from strategy to action.
Strategy games provide experiences that require quick thinking, and forward planning from the gamer. They combine the unfolding tactics of classic games like chess, with more recent board games such as Risk. Usually focusing on a theatre of war context, players enjoy the tactical overview of the battle these games provide.
Unlike other Sims games that task the player with managing the daily decisions of their on screen dependants, My Sims focuses more on making friends and building objects to solve problems. This makes the game more understandable to a novice or young audience where the simulated nuances of western life would be a mystery.
The focus on building takes the game in a strategy direction as the player must first collect, then manage their stock of different resources to be able to create the necessary blocks. This involves planting and felling trees, mining and apple picking to name a few.
With the new approach to gameplay comes a new look and feel. EA have certainly got on board with the Wii aesthetic, that is well executed here as in other related products such as Sim City: Creator Wii. The game world is easy to navigate and controls are sensibly chosen. The building stages do require some more complicated combinations of button presses and Wii-mote pointing - but introduce each element well.
This year's game, which follows up the original My Sims Wii, introduces a wider cast of protagonists, each themed by their home location - be that pirates, princesses or musicians.
Players are draw to the game for the social interaction they can have with the other characters on the various islands. They also enjoy the Lego style building aspect of the game. Watching a youngster get their head around constructing houses and bridges in the game seems to speak of a future career in architecture - much as an enjoyment of Lego seemed to signal a future in science or computing.
There is a real sense of achievement to building the objects required to progress the story. Players ability to contribute new items to the world (rather than just purchase products off the peg) add an enjoyable creative (rather than consumeristic) edge to the gameplay.
The initial tutorials take you through the basics of socialising and building and take around an hour or so. After that you can save at any point, and sessions can last as long or as short as you like.
The majority of playtime is driven by some particular task in hand - each of which need around thirty minutes to complete. This time does extend as the game progresses, but it never becomes prohibitive to save and come back later.
Although a game tailored for a younger audience, very young players will struggle with anything more than the wandering around and talking to people. The Wii-mote pointing and building logic required to construct the various artifacts will be too taxing for most under fives.
Those with a few years of school under their belt are likely to get much more out of the game. The socialising aspect becomes a real driver to build more objects and meet new people. Difficulty has been kept intentionally low to ensure these players can progress steadily.
Older or expert players may find the game a little sedate for their tastes. They are obviously better catered for by the full Sims experience. They can also find the strategy game elements more fleshed out elsewhere in games like Battalion Wars Wii.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: