Miami Nights lets you create an avatar to cruise the sights, make friends, throw parties and eventually make it into the limelight of stardom as a celebrity. At first glance, Miami Nights looks inspired by The Sims. You have to craft your character with certain attributes and parts of the game touches upon the ‘life simulation' aspects of The Sims. You'll have to keep your character fed. They'll have to work to get money to buy things. They have to sleep and wash themselves periodically. And all the while, there is a ticking clock simulating day and night and a bunch of non playable characters that populate this virtual Miami.
Miami Nights, however, takes this concept a few steps further by crafting in a storyline where you have to aim for diva status. Indeed, the game starts off with a dream of you in a hot tub living it up and then comes crashing down to reality when your landlord yells at you for rent and you have to schmooze with a restaurant manager for a job as a dishwasher.
Making money lets you buy things to adorn your apartment and give gifts to court favor from the various residents in Miami. You can also rely on your natural charm to do the same thing. Each character has a disposition to certain topics so as long as you make the right conversations (jokes, movies, politics, etc.) you'll be able to get into their good graces. Once someone is inclined to be your friend, you can add them to your cell phone contact list (a very clever idea). Friends will also unlock different wardrobes you can change into so making friends brings definite benefits. Once you've built an entourage, you can call them over for a party or you can focus on one friend and begin a more intimate relationship with them (same sex relationships are possible too!).
Miami Nights features 40 locations filled with everything like beaches, gyms, bars and shopping areas. Nearly all the places are filled with characters you can converse with. I found the conversations to be a neat feature. It's more in depth than The Sims because it lets you choose the topic and have more control on how you flirt and joke. If you're not touching a nerve with someone, they will say “I don't care.” But I found a lot of characters were recycling too many lines.
Another thing I found difficult to grasp is the lack of an automatic save function. When you're done playing, you have to go to the menu and press save before exiting. I had the game lock up on me once so I found the lack of any save disconcerting to say the least especially since I just finished spending the whole playing session charming a hottie.
In spite of these shortcomings, this series is probably one of the most innovative original properties Gameloft has made. Whenever I go to a show and talk about wireless games with PR reps, many of them will mention Gameloft's New York Nights. Miami Nights takes all the features that made that game great and expands upon it. If you're a social butterfly who loves to be at the center of things, you'll find this game to be second nature to you and a blast to play as you wine and dine your way to the top.