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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Sim

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Maxis

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2002

 

 

- Follows the fun Hot Date expansion's out-of-the-house gaming experience
- Despite being two years old, graphics still hold up nicely
- Increased social interactions adds more spice to Sims' relationships

 

 

- Sims' children misbehavior can deflate fun-factor somewhat
- Gameplay needs to take next step forward
- Please, no more expansions; When's Sims 2 and Sims Online coming out?

 

 

Review: The Sims (PC)

Review: The Sims: Deluxe (PC)

Review: The Sims (Playstation 2)

Review: The Sims: Unleashed (PC)

Review: The Sims: Hot Date (PC)

 

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The Sims: Vacation

Score: 8.7 / 10

 

While checking out the latest NPD TechWorld best-selling PC games list, one thing stands out clear: The Sims (and its four expansion packs) is by far the most popular-selling gaming fix out there today. The original game and three of its expansions are ranked in the current top-ten most sold PC titles. In fact, the Sims recently passed Myst as the all-time top-selling PC game ever. It should be no shock, then that the newest expansion to the Sims world, Sims: Vacation (SV) has achieved the top spot on the sales charts. But is it actually good enough to warrant its lofty sales numbers, or is it simply a case of Sims addicts blindly purchasing anything related to their favorite game?

 

sims-vacation-1.jpg (22767 bytes)          sims-vacation-2.jpg (27137 bytes)

 

It's probably a little bit of both. SV is a worthwhile addition to the Sims cosmos and is a good PC game in its own right, but the Sims series is becoming a little repetitive in its gameplay choices that without the rabid devotion of Sims fans, wouldn't sell nearly as many copies as it insanely has so far. SV follows down the same path that Hot Date had traveled by providing some out-of-the-Sims-house gaming options. Working every day and shuffling the kids off to school gets you and your Sims a little hungry for some time away from the daily home life. So now you can pack up the family and bolt out of your Sims' residence and head on out to Vacation Island, the only place for your Sims to go to catch a well-deserved break and soak up some rest and relaxation. 


There are three choices you can make as to what type of vacation your Sims can take. Either head to the sunny beach resort, get back to nature in the forest camping grounds, or head to the wintry wonderland of the snow-filled mountains. With these three different choices comes entirely new activities for your Sims such as volleyball, snowboarding, fishing and a recreation especially important to SV success, treasure-hunting. A key way to provide more money to pay for your vacation time is by discovering randomly placed valuable items that can be sold for money which you can use to extend time on vacation or could be brought back home as souvenirs (which also come in the shape of carnival prizes won or archeological items found like old arrowheads) and used at home to impress other Sims which can gain relationship and friendship points for your own Sims.

 

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One of the goals and challenges of SV is having more direct involvement with your Sim children, if you happen to have any. The game gives your Sims family a chance to spend some good old-fashioned quality time together. But make sure the kids are behaving themselves, because mischievous children can cause you to collect fines from the Vacation Island staff, hurting your rating points and also prematurely ending your vacation without the big payoff of a special souvenir that 

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can come along with having well-behaved Sims kids. If you are a single Sim, you can bring dates on vacation for a romantic getaway. But the main reach of SV seems to be to the child-raising Sims families. A nice little inclusion that provides SV's help and hint functionality is Vacation Director Kana. If you have any questions about anything related to your time spent on vacation, Kana could give you the answers you need or give up some important gameplay clues. She also keeps score of your vacation points, so keep those kids under control.

As long as the money flows from your Sims pockets, they can stay on vacation at their favorite destination. Similar to Hot Date, it won't hurt your work or relationship status back at home. In fact, a protracted vacation may help improve it. The game keeps those aspects of your life in a type of time-stop mode until you return from that R & R and resume your everyday Sims existence. But that's the trick: having enough cash in the coffers to sustain a long and extended vacation stay that will pay off with big rewards in the shape of souvenirs and increased friendship and relationship points.

In the Sims game, having access to more brand-new building and decorating items and materials is important when it comes to creating the perfect Sim household for everyday Sim-living. There are 125 new objects included with SV as well as some new social interactions to make things more interesting. The look of the game holds true to how it has appeared since it first hit the scene two years ago. And that's a good thing. It's rare that a game that's currently over two years old can still compete visually with much of what is out there in today's PC market. The sounds and music of the previous Sims games stays at the same good quality level also. And yes, that includes the sounds of the Simlish language that still permeate the game.

 

One facet worth mentioning is that although I was using the same exact machine as I had for the previous Sims games, I actually had a crisper performance on my system compared to when Hot Date had last been played. The frame-rate executed at a seemingly better efficiency as I didn't have as much of a problem navigating the neighborhood and Vacation Island as had previously sometimes been problematic when it came to performance and frame-rate issues.

After all is examined in SV, it's clear that for all the goodness wrapped in another part of the Sims package, it may be time to move on from issuing expansion discs and providing something new to Sims fans. Sims 2 is still apparently currently in the development loop, and there are some new features being promised that should get Sims players excited. Instead of being left to your own devices as how your Sims go about their everyday lives, Sims 2 will be more goal oriented. For instance, instead of deciding when you may want to go out on a sizzling date versus remodeling your Sims dwelling for the umpteenth time, you may be given a task such as throw a party and get the digits of three new hotties. You'll be given less autonomy in gameplay, and that promising gameplay element should give more Sims gamers less reason to experience those patches of boredom that can sometimes hit. And of course Sims Online could be a whole gaming revolution in itself. Not only will you be able to interact in a real-time frame with others by "talking" (typing) what you want to "say", Sims Online players will be able to convey emotions through their Sims. If another Sims Online player "tells" a joke, you can have your Sim actually appear to laugh. You will have control over what physical/emotional animation your Sim will communicate.

But that's the future of the Sims. SV is its present incarnation. So while it's true that The Sims: Vacation fails to bring any new or revolutionary gameplay elements (not already introduced in Hot Date) to the gameplay of the Sims, SV still provides more fun to the serious Sim-er's gaming universe. I guess Maxis is going by the old adage "if it ain't broke, why fix it?" until they are ready to spring either Sims 2 or Sims Online onto the gaming public. Anyone desiring what is being promised in Sims 2 or Sims Online may be a little disappointed with SV. But those who treasured what they received out of the Hot Date expansion will totally enjoy SV. Like the Go-Go's, a little vacation may be all your Sims ever wanted, but let's hope that Maxis development team isn't out of the office until they give us one of the two highly-anticipated Sims titles.

-Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

 

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