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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Online Simulation

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Maxis

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2003

 

 

- Sims finally can be played as Will Wright meant them to be played

- Gesture and social interactions can be hilarious

- Menus are easy to navigate

 

 

- Can be utterly laggy with either slower PC or online connection

- Almost gives too much freedom in online activities; could use some “missions” or “goals” similar to console versions of the game

- Still looks good, but visually starting to become a little dated

 

 

Review: The Sims (PS2)

Review: The Sims - Hot Date (PC)

Review: The Sims - Unleashed (PC)

 

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The Sims Online

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

One of the most eagerly anticipated PC titles of the last five years has been the online version of the all-time top-selling PC game, The Sims. The game’s offline version still continues to place on the monthly top-ten selling PC games chart three years after its initial release. The Sims has always seemed perfectly suited for life as a massively multiplayer online game, and fans of the game seemingly couldn’t wait to get their Sims online. I say, "seemingly," because although it’s overall a good online game, there’s been an inexplicable reluctance so far for the millions of Sims gamers to flock en masse to the Sims Online. That’s more than a little perplexing at this point, because while the game certainly isn’t perfect, the overall experience is good enough, especially if you have a decent PC and high-speed Internet connection, to merit buying.  

 

sims online pc review          sims online pc review

 

There’s a lot of Sims goodies for Sims fan to get excited about, even with the $9.95 monthly subscription fee. Finally, you can interact with other Sims that aren’t NPCs, but instead have real human beings controlling their interactions. This is how The Sims creator Will Wright always envisioned the game being played. It’s real easy to communicate with other Sims Online players too, which almost seems like one huge interactive chat room. Just type what you want to say and hit the enter button, and what you typed immediately pops up in a comic strip-style text balloon.

 

In The Sims Online, you won’t find the gameplay straying too far from what you’re already used to in the offline Sims. The gameplay has you living a virtual everyday Sims life of working and playing. You still must find a place to live, either by building your own house or moving in with roommates, which is a small new wrinkle in The Sims Online. You can move into a house with other Sims Online players, and this is one of the best ways to quickly improve your Sims resources and skills. Doing skill-building activities like painting for creativity points is much more productive and attained much faster when done with multiple Sims Online gamers at the same time.

 

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Another new touch is that you can build up your Simolean cash reserve by having other Sims Online players pay you for services you offer, like admission to your dance club. (And no, the world’s oldest profession isn’t one of those methods.) There’s plenty of creative ways to earn more cash. Recently introduced was a Sims Online trading feature, which allows those Sims Online gamers short of cash the ability to barter or trade objects for other objects 

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or good old Simolean cash. Also, there is a menu that keeps track of your roommates and friends, and for sending messages to friends and roommates too. The game’s menus are extremely easy to navigate, a big plus in a game that relies heavily on interaction with other gamers.

 

Graphically, the game doesn’t stray far at all from its offline roots, which is both bad and good. The Sims Online has that same visual presentation featured in the game since its inception. Three years ago, these graphics were pretty amazing in their vividness and detail. Today, while they still are good, the graphics are starting to get a little dated, especially in their lack of a true 3D quality, and doesn’t impress on the same “wow!” scale. Some new gestures with accompanying animations that can be performed are the biggest addition to the look of the game, and these gestures, like passing gas, can be downright hilarious.

 

The sounds in The Sims Online is one of the game’s biggest strengths. The undecipherable -but-somehow-understandable-of-its-meaning Simlish language remains the Sims resident’s dialect of choice and also expect to hear the great and addictive Sim tunage playing over radios and on the dance floor.

 

But there are some problems that can be encountered in The Sims Online. The most noticeable comes to light if you happen to have a slower PC and/or Internet connection. The recommended PC is a 700 MHz with 128MB of RAM and I played The Sims Online on a 667 MHz system with 256MB of RAM and even had a cable Internet connection. I ran into some major lag issues. Unless you have a Gig or higher system, plenty of RAM, and either a broadband, cable, or DSL Internet connection, The Sims Online can be extremely laggy in its gameplay.

 

There are other issues not related to your hardware that drag the game down a bit. These aren’t crippling problems to the game’s overall enjoyment (and may even be amended down the road) but they can be annoying.

 

sims online pc review          sims online pc review

 

First off, you can create three Sims characters per account, but only one Sim can be used online at a time, so you can’t build your own traditional Sims family as in the offline version. Also, maybe it’s just me, but there’s a feature that I thought could have been addressed differently in light of the content included in the home console versions of The Sims.

 

Now, allowing you to have free will to do basically anything at anytime has been a facet of The Sims gameplay since its release. But the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube versions of The Sims in its Get A Life mode and bonus games actually give you objectives to attain. Yeah, yeah, many of you will say that MMOGs need to allow you the freedom to do whatever you want and that’s one of their biggest draws for gamers. And I agree with you almost entirely. But there were times when I first started playing The Sims Online and I was aimlessly roaming the online Sims world actually wishing there were “missions” or “goals” that I needed to complete, just like the console versions. But if you become a roommate in a house, then it’s not so bad because you will have other Sims to interact with on a regular basis, deflating the need for “mission” objectives.

 

After all the hoopla The Sims Online doesn’t quite live up to its almost unattainable expectations. While there is room for improvement, the great feature about The Sims Online is the ability to update and add content at the game sign-on menu. (Maxis’ intends to add new material to The Sims Online for at least 2 or 3 years.) So the potential greatness of the game may one day be completely instead of partially realized. Definitely recommended for Sims fans, but as I said before, make sure you have the hardware and high-speed connectivity to get the most out of The Sims Online.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(April 5, 2003)

 

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