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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Sim

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Maxis

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q2 2000

 

 

- Good fun for all gamers

- Replay value is limitless

- Great graphics and animation, three resolution modes

- Open ended gameplay

- The ulitmate Skinnerís box or game of "House"Interface is easy to use

- Excellent manual

- Scrapbook feature to record key moments in the life of your Sim

 

 

- Habit forming

- Why play life when you can actually live it?

- Not really a game

 

 

Review: The Sims: Hot Date (PC)

Review: The Sims: Deluxe (PC)

Review: The Sims (Playstation 2)

Review: The Sims: Unleashed (PC)

Review: The Sims: Vacation (PC)

 

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The Sims

Score: 9.7 / 10

 

Reviewing The Sims is a tough job because itís not really a game, but for the sake of this review it will be classified as such.

The Sims is a simulation along the lines of the SimCity series, not a big surprise considering the same genius, Will Wright, created both. Itís obvious that Wright did a lot of thinking about how this game would operate.

the_sims-a1.jpg (18668 bytes)         the_sims-b1.jpg (18068 bytes)

 

To start, the player is presented with an open field surrounded by a strip of road. There are a couple of houses pre-built; ready to have a family moved in. There also the chance to go through a tutorial that does a good job of equipping players with the basic skills to play the game. Most players will probably want to start from scratch. A family must be created before play can commence. The character creation menu is easy to use and fun to experiment with. There are multiple character traits to modify including playfulness, neatness, astrological sign, etc., all of which affect how that particular Sim will interact with the world. On top of creating their psychological make-up, their appearance can also be modified, right down to their sex, skin tone, body type and age. Even short histories can be created for each character! Once your perfect family is created itís time to move them into a house.

 

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Players are given $20,000 to buy a lot on which to build a house. The building tools are easy to use and in the tradition of those found in SimCity. (The same goes for the camera control) Putting up walls, installing doors, painting walls, rolling out carpets, decorating, roughing-in plumbing fixtures, and putting a roof on has never been easier. Players can recreate their own living spaces or let their imaginations run 

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rampant. There are a wide variety of structure types to choose from. For example, there are different kinds of siding and roofing materials available. Tile or asphalt shingles? Aluminum siding? What about some Roman-type columns? Floor to ceiling windows or small portholes? What about flower beds outside? Cheap shag carpeting or expensive hardwood? What about a swimming pool? Shower or bathtub? Two floors or a one floor rancher? There are lots of choices and it may take one or two hours to create a satisfactory house. (They way the house is laid out will affect the mood of your Sim. For example, forget to put windows in and your Sim will start to feel claustrophobic.) Once the house is built itís ready to be furnished.

The range of furnishings is good. Since funds are limited, players will probably have to stick with the most basic and simple of furnishings. Countertops will probably be Formica and a radio will probably take the place of a television. Later on, as the player earns money, higher priced and better quality items can be purchased. Prices for items are fixed with no chance to visit a garage sale. Players should take into account that a Sim needs a place to sleep, relieve themselves, prepare meals and eat. (Each item in the house has different actions associated with them and can affect the mood of your Sim.)

Once the playerís Sim family is moved in the fun really starts. But wait, whatís the goal of this game? Is there a point? As far as anyone can tell, the goal is to make your Sim happy. This is accomplished by initiating friendships with people in the neighbourhood, acquiring bigger and better things, and earning more money. No spiritual enlightenment here, folks! A diamond over the head of each Sim displays their general psychological condition. The spectrum is from bright green (very happy) to a hazy red (depressed). Besides this indicator there are auditory and visual cues as to the condition of a specific Sim. Thought bubbles show in an abstract way what Sims are thinking. If they are thinking about a toilet itís a safe bet they need to go to the bathroom. If they have to go badly enough they will run to the bathroom! Or they will wet their pants. To avoid these embarrassing moments there are eight bars indicating levels of hygiene, hunger, social, energy, etc. To restore these bars to an acceptable level specific actions must be performed. If the energy bar is completely red, get your Sim to bed quickly. If players force their Sims to stay up too late they will eventually pass out and sleep wherever they drop until the bar reaches an acceptable level of green. Keeping all these bars at an acceptable level is sometimes tricky, especially if players are trying to manage more than a few Sims. But maybe you donít want to keep them happy. You can command your Sim to perform a variety of actions but they can refuse if theyíre too depressed. There are also specific skills that can be improved. Read some technical books and receive a technical skill point. Play chess and receive logic points. These skills can have ramifications on how the Sims interact with their environment and how they will advance in their careers.

 

To bring in money players must get a job. There is a good selection of career tracks to choose from. And depending on what skills your Sim works on there is the chance to be promoted and earn more money. But once the Sim leaves the house you have no control over them until they come home at the end of the day. Skip too many days of work and your Sim will be fired.

The most intriguing part of the game is making friendships. The character traits that were assigned to the Sim at the creation stage come into play. If your Sim is very outgoing it may be easier to make friends. 

Astrological signs play a part in how Sims interact with each other. The more Sims have in common with each other, the more likely that they will form lasting friendships. To get friends or acquaintances to come over, there must be a phone available to the Sim. To see how successful your attempts at friendship are there is an easily accessible menu that provides all the necessary information. (All the menus are easy to access and understand at a glance.) For the most part players can direct the conversation of the Sims, at least their side of the conversation. There are also other interactions available such as, "give back rub", "dance with", "flirt", "entertain" and "propose". Yes, propose. Once a relationship has proceeded far enough, marriage becomes an option and that person can join your Sim family. The voices of the Sims are mostly Mr. Bean-like mumblings accompanied with lots of body language and voice bubbles indicating what theyíre talking about. The combination is very effective in conveying information.

This game is incredibly deep and will play differently for every player. There is just so much to explore and interact with that explaining all of them would take up pages of text. There is always something new to do or build, with plenty of built-in surprises. (Sims can die, fires can wipe out a household, maids and gardners hired, jacuzzi parties are a possibility, babies can be born, the list goes on) There are also a couple of free downloads available at the official website (including the much maligned hamster) that allow for further customization. There is also an official add-on pack available. As good as The Sims is, there are a few things that detract from the experience. For one, controlling everything your Sim does can be tedious. They do have a certain level of self-sufficiency, meeting their basic needs but leaving them alone can lead to disaster. Example, I left my Sim alone for ten minutes while I talked on the phone. As I hung up the music suddenly changed and my Simís voice got excited. His attempt to make dinner ended in calamity. Fire was everywhere. I directed him to call the fire department then try to extinguish the blaze. He quickly found himself in a column of flames burning to death. When his wife came home from work all that was left was an urn, over which she immediately started crying.

The Sims is a game for all types of gamers. Itís a fairly simple concept but its complexity and the way it draws you in is amazing. And the replay value is through the roof! This is my favorite for Game of the Year.

- Omni

 

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