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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Simulation

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Maxis

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

February 2007

 

 

- You can still play the typical open-ended Sims gameplay, but finally there is a full-fledged scripted story mode with goals to attain

- Don’t need the original The Sims 2 to play this laptop-friendly game

 

 

- Much more restrictive Four Corners town setting, leaving little exploration opportunity

- Don’t expect as much material packed in (to clothe your Sims and build and decorate their domicile) as The Sims 2 and all its expansion packs

 

 

Review: The Sims 2: University (PC)

Review: The Sims 2 (PC)

Review: Nintendogs (DS)

 

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Sims Life Stories

Score: 8.5 / 10

 

Here’s the story of two Sims: Riley, who’s returned to her hometown for a new lease on life — and maybe to rekindle a new flame. Then there’s Vince, the unlucky in love techie looking for a girl who’s more interested in what’s in his heart than what’s in his wallet. This is their story, told through The Sims Life Stories, a new line of Sims games from Electronic Arts. You could call this game the life of Riley (and Vincent), or more aptly “Days of Our Sims Lives” because it plays out just like your typical afternoon soap opera: romantically comic love triangles, paramour rivalries, heartbreak and finally true love found.

 

sims life stories          sims life stories

Any Sims 2 player will instantly be familiar with The Sims Life Stories because, well, it’s practically the same as the core Sims 2 gameplay, with a slight twist. Taking its queue from the Sims console titles appearing on the Xbox, PS2 and GameCube, The Sims Life Stories relies more on a storyline than open-ended playtime to entertain Sims gamers. Instead of simply playing puppetmaster to your Sims in the standard Freeform mode (which, by the way, is still available for those who really enjoy the normal its-all-up-to-you Sims gameplay), there’s an actual story to follow, guiding your actions while controlling first Riley and then Vincent.

 

Instead of having to manipulate multiple Sims in a household, you’re only concerned with the love-stricken pair and following their story to the soapy ending. You are in charge of Riley and Vincent meeting story-specific goals such 

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as asking out a date to a romantic hotspot (along with the typical Sims needs such as hygiene, eating and sleeping) required to advance into the next stage of their Sims lives, including some minor decorative improvements.

 

While the plot-driven gameplay really isn’t too much removed from the standard Sims 2, there are a few combined mechanisms borrowed

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from previous Sims 2 expansions, including the romantic matchmaker element and the Influence meter from the Nightlife and University expansions, respectively, that control your actions and make sure you stay on the path that the Riley-and-Vincent tales intends you to travel.

 

There’s the slots-style goals “machine” that rolls and spins each time you meet a story-driven requirement that decides what your goals are, such as mundane tasks like eating a grilled cheese sandwich to buying expensive artwork to adorn your Sims abode.

 

You’ll also need to develop a relationship of the romantic kind for Riley to turn the page, so to speak, to the next chapter of her dreamy saga. And to grow that relationship from its tiny seeds of friendship, you’ll need to become influential and amorously interesting amongst a group of Sims to complete Riley’s and Vince’s chronicles. These goals are much quicker to accomplish, because of the fast-paced nature of The Sims Life Stories gameplay sessions (meant for short bursts of laptop gaming).

 

That may be perfectly fine with most that decide to play The Sims Life Stories, but some Sims gamers that are completely into the whole write-your-own-story gameplay that is found in The Sims 2 (normally sans any kind of story to delve into) may not find it as appealing.

 

sims life stories          sims life stories

 

Visually and audibly, The Sims Life Stories has exactly the same presence of The Sims 2 series. There’s a less expansive landscape than The Sims 2, with the only neighborhood you can travel throughout is the somewhat constrictive Four Corners , with its smaller lots and accompanying homes. But that’s done purposely, because The Sims Life Stories is meant to be handled by the less-gaming-centric laptop that typically needs less taxing graphical requirements than a desktop PC.

 

However, the graphics are still just as good as The Sims 2 and all its expansion packs. As one might expect, the Simlish dialect is the predominant language of love in The Sims Life Stories. You’ll also hear the usual excellent music that melodically plays throughout your Sims lifestyle adventures.

 

Controlling the Sims this time around is much different than in previous Sims forays. Again, because The Sims Life Stories was developed with the laptop-toting gamer in mind, the usual mouse control is ditched for keyboard-directed movement. For those that are veteran Sims gamers, the new keyboard-centered controls will take some acclimation.

And staying with the laptop functionality, The Sims Life Stories allows for easy flipping from the desktop to the game, so you can keep instant messaging dialogue and e-mail access continuing while playing The Sims Life Stories (that’s apparently a big plus for laptop owners, or at least EA seems to think so).

 

Theses are the days of your Sims’ lives (or at least your Sims named Riley and Vincent). It is totally up to you how quickly their fates intertwine at the conclusion of The Sims Life Stories. Does either find the true love they seek? It’s their tale to tell, and you’re the narrator. And it doesn’t end here. There’s already a whole line of Stories titles planned, from The Sims Pet Stories to The Sims Castaway Stories. So the stories of the Sims are not going to end anytime soon, and it’s off to a good first chapter with The Sims Life Stories.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(March 19, 2007)

 

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