IGN Review of Miami Nights: Singles in the City
Our knowledge of the city of Miami, Florida was based entirely on CSI: Miami, Dexter, and that Will Smith song from the late '90s. As far as we could tell, it's full of "half dressed ladies, fully equipped" and bizarre, ludicrous murders happen almost non-stop. Now that Miami Nights: Singles in the City is out, we can add the Gameloft-developed game to our knowledge base. So, thanks to this simulation, now we know that life in Miami is a creepy, vaguely homoerotic experience where men pay you to bathe in front of them, and somehow none of it manages to be fun.
Miami Nights actually started off a cell phone game, which makes a lot of sense when you actually look at it. It's a simple life and dating sim that is clearly meant to be played in couple minute spurts. For the DS version the game got a graphical upgrade, but not much of a gameplay one.
Despite the Sims ripoff design, Singles in the City is a pretty linear game. In fact, it's so linear that there is literally someone telling you what to do the entire time. Your friendly neighbor is always ready to tell you what to do next. Whether she is stopping by your house to make sure you shower, or calling you up to remind you to French kiss that slut you met in the bar, you can always count on the neighbor to make sure you never attempt to actually play the game your own damn self.
Sure, you can go off and exercise or study at the library to build up the various skill sets in the game, but there's no reason to do it early. At some point in the game you'll be required to build that up, so doing it early simply means you don't have to do it later. You still had to do it at some point. The game constantly feels teasingly limited. For instance, nearly everyone in the city can be interacted with and relationships can be formed, but you can't do anything with it. It doesn't matter if I got everyone in the city to fall madly in love with me, because all you can do is give them a kiss and move along.
Talking to people in the first place is nonsense because the developers are either high, or just woke up from a coma and think it's 1999. While chatting up a fly chica on the beach, my conversation topics included: "Respect For Elders," "Monicagate," and "Best Leather Pants." We hear the East Coast is pretty different, but here in California if we said, "Hey, aren't old people cool? Remember Monica Lewinsky? These leather pants don't chafe at all!" we would not be invited back to her place.
The DS specific features include some touch screen minigames in the form of jobs. We started off washing dishes, and got to wait tables. It's nothing special, but at least it makes the job portion a little more interactive. Ironically, the higher better paying jobs have no touch screen games attached to them at all. So the reward for progressing through the game is for the money making to become a boring, automatic endeavor.
When the game isn't being boring it's being unreasonably creepy. Right from the start, when it let us create a character that was 12 years old and send her out into the Miami club scene, we knew there was a problem.
It's cool though, because our neighbor that runs our life set us up with three blind dates options! We got to choose from: a smoking-hot, idiot jock; a smoking-hot, foreign homeless person; or a smoking-hot, nerdy nymphomaniac.
It only took one drink before we had Hans, the sexy dumpster-teen, in our bedroom. He wanted to "get freaky" with us, but we told him no way. Actually, we tried to shove our tongue down his throat, instead of breaking up with him like our neighbor told us to, but the game made him leave anyway. See, in Miami Nights, none of these singles in the city have sex. They get drunk, grope each other and ask to come over only to get bored in the bedroom. So, in that respect it was a lot like our real life.
But seriously, it's amazing the amount of bizarre, whorish things you can do in this game and it still attempts a pseudo-chasteness. We're not saying that they should have thrown gratuitous sex into the game, but for the sake of realism we expect a game where the character can slip someone a roofie (actually has to as a plot point), get paid to bathe in front of some dude, and make out with some guy passed out on the floor of a bathroom, should at least have an option for some sort of sex euphemism.
We're not sure if the Miami portrayed in the game is entirely accurate, but the level design is pretty good. There are a lot of different areas all over the city to visit, which manages to at least keep the game somewhat interesting. However the character models are anything but diverse or good looking. Despite the game claiming to offer more than 200 ways to customize your character, the NPCs all end up looking the same. On top of that, the males all have these bizarre, androgynous bodies that just keeps the game well within the weird zone. There is often a pair of people making out in the bars and clubs we walked into, but we physically have to go up and talk to them before we can tell if the situation is hot (which it never was).
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