MySims SkyHeroes Xbox 360 Review

November 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Xbox 360, Features, Reviews

Publisher – EA – Developer – The Sims Studio – Genre –  Flight/Action – Players – 1-10 – Age Rating – 3+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3, Wii, DS

The arcade dogfight has been a staple since the beginning of gaming, from Atari’s Red Baron to the recent Snoopy game on Xbox Live Arcade. So how does this spin-off from The Sims perform?

From the main menu there are Quickplay, Story and Multiplayer options. Starting the Story mode, you get a short sequence explaining how a mysterious pilot was washed ashore near the Skyforce secret base. You control and name that pilot, creating a plane for him/her, and joining the fight against the evil Morcubus. After a tutorial explaining the controls, display and power-ups, a series of missions follow.

Nice flames, but perhaps taking a closer look is out of the question.

There are two basic types of mission, Dogfight and Race, which are echoed in the choices in the Quickplay menu. (You can also replay the Tutorial there). Dogfights either see the player trying to gain the most points (by damaging or shooting down opponents, and avoiding damage themselves) or destroy a series of objectives within a time limit. Races represent a chase or a test of your flying skill, a number of laps around a course determined by checkpoints that must be flown through.

The Story progresses as you win dogfights and races, recruiting new pilots to the Skyforce cause. Your leader often pits you in wargames against your allies, or sends you to another base to follow up intelligence or reports of a new enemy weapon. The better your performance, the more extra parts, Sims and logos you unlock. This allows you to create new planes with better abilities, add up to three different Perks (increasing the performance of your plane and its weapons) and customise them with new paintwork.

Quickplay, as stated, lets you play either a race or dogfight and adjust the parameters. The Multiplayer modes are playable either split-screen or over Xbox Live. You can join an existing game or host your own with a choice of rules. At the time of writing there were very few users online, so it was difficult to play more than a few games.

The 3D courses are pleasant enough, depicting a variety of terrain types and suiting the cute nature of the game. The onscreen display is clear, with the radar screen to guide you, your current power-up shown at the top left and your current score/position at top right. Controls are straightforward, although many may prefer to invert the Y-axis as initially up moves you up – confusing if you are used to the pilot controls of other games. Weapons and power-ups are on the triggers, boost and brake on the face buttons; using brake in conjunction with the left stick does a tighter power turn that is useful in many situations. The right stick gives some basic aerobatics manoeuvres – a 180 degree loop to turn you around, barrel rolls left and right, and an Immelman turn (which completes a 360 degree loop that can catch an opponent unawares).

It would be paradise if other Sims weren't shooting at you.

The cute characters in the cutscenes are fun to watch, accompanied by the “gibberish” as they speak. Particular favourites are the Spectre Squad (with Zombie Carl), crusty mechanic Gabby and Gal Force 4. The only downside is the repetition of the vocal samples. There is also a sense of humour in the mission names and dialogue. However, the real drawback to the game is the lack of variety. Each course is a relatively small area and there are too few of them, with the same course being re-used for races and dogfights as the story progresses. Although the objectives change, the missions soon feel cumbersome despite some clever moments (for example, taking down the Morcubus statue as it shoots giant death beams from its eyes, or the final mission with its echoes of Star Wars). Difficulty spikes will also see you repeating missions to earn a better ranking and thus better equipment, often forcing you to sit through cutscenes again. The mini-globe for selecting locations to visit works well, but for some reason it always starts on the opposite side to your home base, forcing you to move to the right location each time it appears.

In summing up, there are a few hours of fun to be had from MySims SkyHeroes. It would be easy to dismiss it as a game aimed at kids, and certainly it’ll likely feel more at home on the Wii (where the MySims series originated). There is some satisfaction in completing missions and earning the Achievements, but ultimately this style of game has been done before and been done better.