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Q4 2003



- Console-style Bustin’ Out mode gives players goals to achieve
- Two-player gameplay option
- Easy-to-navigate controls



- Why let Sims get in the driver’s seat of vehicles without allowing the player the ability to actually drive those vehicles wherever they want?
- “Sim” time moves a bit too frantic compared to “real” time needed to do everyday Sim activities



Review: The Sims (XB)

Review: The Sims Makin' Magic (PC)

Review: Wreckless - The Yakuza Missions (XB)

Review: The Sims (GC)



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The Sims Bustin' Out

Score: 8.4 / 10


sims bustin out          sims bustin out


The Sims, the best selling PC game ever, successfully made the sometimes-difficult jump from the PC to the console spectrum last year in the multiplatform The Sims. Even though the game remained true to its PC roots of an everyday living simulation with a twist, it converted well to the console market due to clever conversion of the keyboard & mouse controls to the decidedly different console controllers and adapting a more console-oriented 3-D visual presentation.

The second Sims title for the console market, The Sims Bustin’ Out, discussed here in its Xbox incarnation, traces the endearing path of the first console version and achieves an even greater amount of console-style flavor with the Bustin’ Out mode that gives console players the goal-oriented story mode they’re more accustomed




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to while still nodding toward fans of the freestyle openness of the PC game that may even convert the most hardened Sims naysayer.

What Bustin’ Out does extremely well is take the winning PC Sims formula, add a dash of what the development team learned from the first console title, and blend in enough new features and the usual Teen-rated sexually-


charged naughtiness to create another Will Wright recipe for tasty gaming goodness. You can still play the old fashioned Sims way of Free Play where you choose what to do in your Sims existence and when. Hardcore Sims fanatics will enjoy the collection of items to build your Sims domicile, outfit them in the latest Sims fashions, go to bizarrely interesting jobs, and interact with plenty of Sims neighbors. And for most Sims fans, this is the style of game that will have them playing for hours.

But for the console gamer, the appeal of a goal-oriented game is what will draw them to Bustin’ Out. There is even the return of two-player gameplay for the most competitive of Sims players. After using the Create-a-Sim mode to customize your Sim, it all begins in mom’s house, where after completing some of the required goals (clean up house, learn new skill points) you’re now able to move out into the Sims world on your very own. There’s greed afoot, however, as your recently-divorced mom’s ex-husband, Malcolm Landgrabb, a rich S.O.B. that is “reacquiring” all the items he gave to your mom and his two kids, Mimi and the king of Sim slackers, Dudley. It’s your goal to thwart Malcolm’s plans and eventually take over Malcolm’s empire and his mansion.

Playing the Bustin’ Out mode requires meeting specific goals to advance. And with the game paced by “Sim” time instead of “real” time, it can become a frantically paced adventure that takes some of the fun out of the game. You become so obsessed with doing certain Sim functions within the quickly-moving time of a Sims day to unlock hidden items and move closer to the mansion’s doorstep, you’ll miss out on the slower-paced easygoing nature of the Free Play mode that allows you to play at your own leisurely rate. Still, once you adjust to the speedy timeframe required to meet your goals sufficiently, gamers will be able to thoroughly appreciate Bustin’ Out’s gameplay.


sims bustin out        sims bustin out

The Sims world of Bustin’ Out doesn’t have the total number of goodies and new environments that are available through the many, many expansion packs for the PC Sims. But Maxis has done a respectable job making sure the console Sims fans haven’t been shortchanged. There are 16 locations that your Sims can explore and work in including a nudist colony, mad scientist lab, a military base, night club, and movie studio, each with their own distinctly Sims humor-filled touches. Getting from location to location gives the Sims their first chance to “drive” the roads connecting the Sims universe. But unfortunately it’s not as interactive as it should be because by “drive” I mean sitting in a vehicle (such as a motor scooter or dune buggy) and sit back for two minutes until you arrive at your selected destination. At no time will you actually have any control over the vehicle, so it’s puzzling why they even included it in the game.

Controlling all the Sims proceedings is set up really nicely as it was in the first console Sims title. Whether it’s zooming in for a closer look, adding new décor to your house, or checking out your Sims essential statistics (like hunger, friendship, and happiness) on-the-fly, it’s an easy task with your Xbox controller. Along with the solid control setup is a sensually colorful and well-rendered graphical presentation (which seems to be closer in clarity and detail to the upcoming Sims 2 PC game than the original Sims franchise) in tandem with the wonderful music and patented Simlish language interaction between Sims that creates a great overall gaming package.

While Bustin’ Out won’t give Maxis and Will Wright the same vice-grip on the console marketplace as it does on the PC, the game does add another successful chapter in the franchise’s history, especially with the game’s story mode. Bustin’ Out adds nothing but positive reinforcement to the Sims legacy.

- Lee Cieniawa

(February 1, 2004)


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