The Sims Online
8.0 / 10
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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”
all the hoopla The Sims Online doesn’t quite live up to its almost
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.
(April 5, 2003)
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