The Sims Bustin' Out

a game by Maxis

Platforms: GameCubeXBoxPlaystation 2GBA

Genre: Strategy/War

See also: The Sims Games

On paper, the Sims sounds like a ridiculous idea for a videogame. Why would anyone want to control the actions of everyday people in their mundane lives? Sometimes I have trouble managing my own life. Yet in motion, the Sims is something completely different from the dull game it sounds like on paper' in motion it works, as hundreds of thousands of people can attest. The Sims Bustin' Out is the newest addition to the franchise, and like previous incarnations, Bustin Out proves that the life lived vicariously is sometimes the life best lived.

Bustin' Out contains all the elements that has made the Sims a successful franchise ' like the open-ended gameplay, the high level of customization, the addictive house modifications' and adds several new features to keep things fresh. You still have the freedom to do, literally, whatever you want with your Sim. Want to dance the night away at the hottest club in town? Sure, you can do that. Want your Sim to just bum around the house? You can do that too. You can even coax your Sim friends into playing strip poker with you. Now that is entertainment.

Of course, most of that's all been done before ' the new Bust Out mode is the real meat and bones of the single player experience. As the name implies, Bustin' Out doesn't confine the Sims to the household domain. You create a Sim and then send him/her out into world to try his or her hand at life. That means moving out of your mom's house and getting a job in hopes of finding fame and fortune at the various locales in the game. To advance through the Bustin' Out mode, you'll need to accomplish goals by getting a job along with a few promotions, learning new skills, schmoozing with other Sims, and doing the odd task here and there. There's a lot to do and the goal-based gameplay adds a lot of structure to an otherwise open-ended game.

Bustin' Out doesn't look too different from the first title released on consoles, The Sims, but it still gets the job done. Environments are rendered well, with detailed surroundings and nice textures, but Bustin' Out suffers from slow down and some noticeable anti-aliasing problems. Character models look nice, although some deeper character customization options couldn't hurt.

In the audio department, Bustin' Out isn't too different from its previous incarnations. Music is sparse and the music that is there is still bland and forgettable. The classic gibberish language of the Sims is still there, but that's entertaining in its own way.

Although The Sims Bustin Out is a fine addition to the series, it still won't be for everyone. If you didn't see what the fuss was about with the first few Sims games, then Bustin' Out won't change your opinion much. After all, monitoring a Sim's bowel movements or arranging furniture to achieve domestic bliss just won't hit home with everyone. If you're one of the many that do get it, however, then Bustin' Out will keep you entertained for hours on end.

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Call me crazy, but I've never been a big fan of The Sims. Fortunately, most of my complaints have been answered in this latest console version. The biggest change in The Sims: Bustin' Out is that you aren't stuck in and around your home. Sure, you still can't see what your job is like, instead time flies by and your sim comes back mentally and physically depleted, but now you do have the opportunity to drive around town and check out other homes.

Bustin' Out features ten locations in which to hang out and interact. The gameplay in this latest Sims is pretty much the same, although much more complex and rewarding thanks to the multiple locations. The game still starts you out in your mom's house, but you're soon given the opportunity to move in with a friend.

Accomplishing basic goals, like making friends or getting a job, open more location for you and reward you with Simoleons. You beat the main part of the game by accomplishing these different goals. You can also play a sort of open-ended mode, which allows you to create a family, and set them on their mostly mundane ways - living, cleaning and working their digital lives under your watchful eyes.

Bustin' Out has also made some significant improvements in sound and graphics. The sims are much more customizable than in prior iterations of the game, allowing you to select from a broader range of body and face types, clothing and make-up. The sound, designed to match the hip young undertones of the game, includes a wide range of relatively pleasing music based on the rhythms of hip-hop,
rock and jazz.

The Gamecube version also allows for Game Boy Advance hook-up through the GBA version of the game. Hooking up allows you to transfer you characters back and forth between the games. Once the big sim is in the handheld world, you can play mini-games to boost skills and money.

The game does have some minor issues. You'll still see a few jagged edges seeping through the otherwise pleasing graphics and the load times between homes and saves can be a little trying at times. Overall, though, Bustin' Out is a vast improvement to an aging franchise, breathing a little more life into a concept that's days may be numbered.

reggie posted a review

Ever since The Sims made their first appearance on the PC, people can't seem to get enough. Although not everybody enjoys the babysitting aspects of having to tell your sim to eat, sleep, socialize, or whatever, there are many that do as watching their sim react to environments and situations will keep fans going for hours. Those gameplay elements are once again represented in The Sims Bustin' Out but unfortunately few new gameplay elements have been added over the previous release.

The Sims Bustin' Out basically enhances the gameplay from the original without offering anything substantially different. For instance, there are new characters, 12 different careers to choose from, new items to unlock, and more options to customize your sim but little has been included to change the way the game is played. These types of enhancements may be enough for die hard fans of The Sims but others may find it difficult to appreciate.

In addition, the same two gameplay options are included in The Sims Bustin' Out. The goal based Bustin' Out mode functions similar to the Get a Life mode in the previous version but is more refined. The object is to move out of your mom's home, get a career, and become a millionaire. Basically if you enjoyed the Get a Life mode from The Sims, you'll enjoy the Bustin' Out mode as its more of the same with minor tweaks and increased challenge. The free play mode where you can create numerous sims and let them interact with their surroundings is also included and functions similar to what's found in The Sims.

Although graphically improved, The Sims Bustin' Out still isn't a visually stunning. Realistically however, this type of genre doesn't require high levels of graphical detail and would add little to the success or failure of the game. The Xbox version does offer 720p option for those with HDTVs.

Even though it feels more like an expansion pack than a new game, the improvements that were made are probably adequate for fans. If you became tired of the last release or haven't played The Sims before, The Sims Bustin' Out is definitely a candidate to rent before purchasing.

reggie posted a review

The Sims: Bustin Out is a fair reproduction of the Sims experience, but it's definitely not the real thing. In the big version of the Sims games, you control a little automaton deciding how they look, dress and act. You can place them on a sort of autopilot and watch them live out their digital lives or take God-like control of them dictating their every move ' but either way it's really sort of an open-ended cyber dollhouse of sorts, which is why the game is so immensely popular.

Bustin' Out is the first GBA port of the Sim phenomenon and while it attempts to recreate the experience, the GBA just doesn't have the horsepower to do it. Instead what you get is a sort of shallow simulation of the full-blown Sims. Sure you can customize your characters looks, but really that just means choosing between a handful of options. You also get to fine-tune the personality, but since there is no autopilot in this version, it doesn't seem to really affect anything. Instead what you get is control of a little Sim plunked down in the middle of rural SimValley.

Bustin? Out really couldn't support a fully open ended game, so you'll find yourself shuttling your Sim back and forth across town accomplishing tasks, taking care of the daily drudgery of life and earning cold, hard Simoleons. The game manages to stay interesting with eight jobs that are actually mini-games, more than a dozen other Sims to befriend, pick-on and talk up and a fairly sizeable city to explore.

But the game just isn't The Sims. You can't just do whatever you want and the mission driven game is just a little too simplistic to be overly fun. While it is kind of neat having a sort of mega Digipet in your pocket, Bustin' Out really doesn't live up to The Sims name.

reggie posted a review
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