Games based on television shows are normally a recipe for disaster, titles like Family Guy and The Simpsons: Hit and Run have utilised their respective licenses but haven't really provided an enjoyable gameplay experience. So when Desperate Housewives was announced it's fair to say we were a little skeptical. Surprisingly though Desperate Housewives is a thoroughly enjoyable game that not only utilises the Desperate Housewives license to full effect, but is actually a great game that you'll want to keep playing, not because it features the women of Wisteria Lane, but because the game is a lot of fun.
The game begins by designing yourself, your husband and your son. You can customise quite a few options on yourself such as hair colour and wardrobe. You can't actually customise your husband or your son, which feels a bit like life really. The story is standard fare and about what you would expect from a Desperate Housewives game. You're the newest housewife on Wisteria Lane, your character is an amnesiac who lost her memory twenty years ago. Your husband told you things about your previous life and your character just accepted what she was told, but now it's time she found out about what really happened. Housewives joining you in the game include Susan Mayer, Bree Van de Kamp, Lynette Scavo, Gabrielle Solises, and Edie Britt.
The game is divided up into episodes. The episodes have basic different goals, but actually tie in well with the storyline later on. Like with The Sims there are certain needs to be addressed which include social needs, composure, happiness and appearance needs. The needs are relatively easy to keep up, so you're able to go about completing the goals without worrying too much about fulfilling your needs. You'll also need to socialise with the neighbours and build up a friendship with the neighbours, in doing so you'll reveal all of the dirty laundry that the neighbours have previously kept hidden.
If you're familiar with The Sims you'll have no hassles adjusting to Desperate Housewives. There are only a few locales you can visit, so most of the action takes place in Wisteria Lane; just like in the television show. Executing commands is as simple as just hovering your mouse over an object. So whilst the game isn't quite as complex as The Sims it's a lot easier for the casual gamer to pick up and play. Desperate Housewives actually features clear objectives, so you're also never left wondering what you should be doing next, if you prefer to just walk around then you can, but there aren't as many modifications to be made to your house as in The Sims.
The game includes a few mini-games which suit the title well. You can choose to gamble and play Texas Hold 'Em or you can tend to the cooking for your husband and son. Alternatively, if you've got a bit of a green thumb then you can aim to have the best looking garden around. If you're a little lazier then you can actually hire somebody to do the cooking and the gardening for you. The mini games will sometimes actually tie in with the sub plots in the game too, so they don't feel tacked on at all.
Visually the game looks very impressive, all of the characters look surprisingly similar to their real life counterparts and the environments are pretty impressive. Desperate Housewives definitely isn't the most beautiful game on the market at the moment, but it still looks good. The sound is surprisngly brilliant, Brenda Strong reprises her role as the narrator, Mary Alice Young and the narration makes the game feel like an authentic Desperate Housewives title, rather than an imitation. The rest of the cast from the show didn't provide their voice for the game but the voice actors have done a pretty impressive job in sounding like characters from the show. The soundtrack is basic, but isn't annoying and compliments the game well.
The lifespan of the game is pretty impressive and it will take about eight to ten hours to complete the story mode in it's entirety. However, completing the story mode really is only the tip of the iceberg, because there are sub plots and the mini games to come back to. Just like with any Sims-esque title you can just spend your time wandering around, shopping or gossiping if you'd prefer as well. There really is a surprising level of depth in the game.
Desperate Housewives is without a doubt one of the most surprising games of the year. If you're a fan of the show or the Desperate Housewives television show then the game comes highly recommended. There aren't as many customisation options as in The Sims but the story mode is really well scoped out. We were expecting a quick cash in and were thankfully very wrong. A game that is well worth trying out. If you're looking for a present for your sister or mother then you can take ressurance in the fact you're buying them a decent present.
If you'd like to download a demo of Desperate Housewives then look here.