The Sims

Platforms: PCGameCubeXBoxPlaystation 2

After the unexpected interest of The Sims on the PC, EA Games is attempting to expand that success, releasing it on the PS2 and other consoles. Although over three years old now, The Sims has aged well and with the new features added, it may even entice those veteran PC players. However, at its root it's still the same and those who didn't like it the first time are going to have the same complaints.

As stated earlier, the basic structure of The Sims is unchanged from it's original iteration. However, there are a number of added features and improvements that separate it from the initial release on the PC. To start, a new feature called 'Get a Life'? has been added. This feature isn't as open ended as the other gameplay mode and works by completing goals like borrowing money from mom, and expands to more difficult goals like getting a career. In addition, as goals are completed, items are unlocked and can be purchased. There are some issues with it however, focusing mainly around the time it takes to finish tasks, such as reading a book. Often minutes will pass as your Sim is simply reading, causing the game to slow down to a crawl. It does however compliment the original game nicely as those of us who are goal-driven can enjoy the game on a different level. In addition, if you couldn't get enough of The Sims the first time around, this would be a decent reason to give it a try on the PS2.

A number of smaller improvements have also been added including more options when creating your Sim, multiplayer games like seeing who can dance or talk with the most people, and some graphical improvements. All fit seamlessly and help keep the game fresh with the multiplayer additions in particular standing out. You wouldn't think they'd be that entertaining but get two players competing and you'd be surprised how long you'll keep at it.

Even with the improvements, the game still feels three years old at times and shows this primarily through the graphics. The new features help to overcome this to some degree but the bottom line is The Sims has a unique style of gameplay that isn't for everyone. Those who like it understand the graphics aren't the focus of the game and won't mind the fact that they aren't up to par. It's apparent however that there are many that do like this style of gameplay and won't be disappointed with the PS2 port. PC users may be disappointed, however, as the core of the game is still essentially the same.

The Sims Downloads

The Sims download

One of the best-selling games of all time has finally made it home to the GameCube and I'm happy to report that it is as fun and addictive as ever. The Sims, for the Nintendo GameCube, is everything the PC version was and more. With pleasing graphics and all new modes of play, you'll find that there's a whole new meaning to the adage, "get a life."

The premise of the game is pretty-much unchanged from the hugely successful PC version. Create your very own sim critter, and guide him/her through the everyday pleasures and pitfalls of life. The console version has added a new twist, however, that'll greet you upon initial boot-up. It's called the "Get a Life" Mode. It serves as a game-play tutorial that's especially useful for newcomers. But even for experienced gamers, it provides a whole new way to play the game. The Get a Life Mode is a mission-based single-player game that requires you to complete a list of goals before you progress to the next level. Here, you'll learn the game's basic control setup to create the home of your dreams and establish sound relationships with family members and friends. The specific goals that you need to achieve are quite varied in nature and difficulty. From borrowing money from mom and fixing the TV set, to cleaning the kitchen with a broom, you'll have plenty to keep you busy. Of course, you'll have to find time to go to work, sleep, and take the obligatory bathroom break every once and a while, but hey, that's life! As you progress from each level to the next, you'll unlock hidden bonuses, such as new wallpaper and furnishings for your home. The game also includes an excellent multiplayer mode, where you and a friend can either play the game cooperatively or compete against one another to see whos the fastest at completing certain objectives. Thankfully, the GameCube controller is quite suitable for the task at hand. Navigating through menus, selecting items, and directing the camera are accomplished with little frustration.

As compared to the PC version, the graphics stand up pretty well. Of course, given the fact that we're comparing a three-year-old PC game with Nintendo's pride and joy, I'm not sure that's really saying much! Nonetheless, the little human-like creatures and their animated habitats are clean and colorful. On the whole the game contains a significantly higher level of detail when compared to its PC cousin, with one noted exception ? if you play the game on anything less than a 31 inch screen, you may find text somewhat difficult to read. For the most part, the same music and quirky sound effects from the PC version have made their way to the GameCube edition. While this is not necessarily a bad thing; an updated sound tract would have certainly been welcome.

My initial impression was that The Sims is a "fans only" type game that action gamers or sports gamers will probably want to steer clear of. But upon further inspection (and after nearly four days of nonstop play), I've changed my mind - this game rocks! The reason is quite simple. There is something inherently fascinating about controlling someone else's life (Heck, I can't even control my own life!). I hereby recommend this game to anyone who values having fun. This reviewer says, "You haven't lived until you've lived 'The Sims!'"

reggie posted a review

Overview

Managing a household can be a very challenging thing. From keeping up the yard to keeping the children fed to paying the bills and holding down a job, the little details that we all deal with on a daily basis can be quite overwhelming. In The Sims, Maxis has recreated daily life in a computer game.

As the player, you control the goings on of one or more homes within a suburb just outside SimCity. From the young bachelor who exclusively eats pizza and never cleans up after himself to a large family living in a mansion, you have complete control over the design and destinies of your Sims (simulated people).

While the game deserves a great deal of credit for originality and incredible attention to detail, it is definitely not for everyone. Those who have enjoyed other Sim-style games will enjoy The Sims, but for others, the game may not differ enough from real life to seem interesting.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

The interface for the game is similar to other _Sim--style games such as SimCity 3000. The view presented to the user is an overhead three-quarter perspective view of a neighborhood and the houses contained within. Standard zooming, rotation, and navigational controls are available, enabling you to see your Sims from many different perspectives.

The Sims themselves have quite a few differing parameters which make them extremely unique within the game. There are a number of face and body skins to distinguish them physically, as well as five personality traits such as Neat, Outgoing, and Nice which help determine how Sims interact with each other and whether Sims like or dislike one another.

When starting the game, you may choose from a small list of pre-generated households or you can create your own. The possibilities are quite extensive and you may add a combination of women, men, and children to the mix. You may also distribute personality points among the five traits for each of your Sims. It is important to choose wisely here in order to ensure that your Sims get along with each other, especially in the case of husband and wife. There’s nothing more annoying than the couple of the house disliking each other enough to cause them to refuse to share the same bed.

After you have created your Sims, one of the first things to do is find a job for at least one. Finding a job requires checking the paper, which arrives every day in front of the house. There are a number of career tracks from which to choose, but only one is available each day, so a few job switches may be required before the career of choice pops up. Career tracks include, among others: medicine, business, sports and crime.

A career must be started at the lowest level and the way to advance through the ranks is to improve certain job-related skills that each Sim has, such as Cooking, Mechanical, and Logic. Improving these skills proves to be an essential aspect of the game if you want your Sims to increase their wealth and happiness. Of course, the more demanding a job becomes, the more difficult it is to maintain a close relationship with the other members of the family, so a careful balance is required at all times.

In addition to these skills, each Sim has eight mood indicators for such things as Comfort, Bladder, Hunger, and Social. Each of these must be maintained in order to ensure contentment in the Sim. If one or more of these drops too low, the Sim may become depressed or angry. If they are not happy, job performance may suffer and they are less likely to clean up after themselves (which means you have to tell them to clean, which gets pretty old after a while). If one of these reaches zero, a few amusing things can happen. For example, if the Energy bar reaches zero, the Sim will fall on the floor and immediately begin sleeping. If the Bladder bar reaches zero, the Sim will have a little accident.

When playing, there are three main modes to the game: Live Mode, Buy Mode, and Build Mode.

Live Mode is the mode where most of your time is spent. It is in this mode that the simulation is running and your Sims can be given commands and observed moving about in their lives.

In Buy Mode, you may purchase a number of different items for the household. These items range from furniture to appliances to decor, and all items can affect your Sims in interesting ways. For example, to keep their Comfort level up, you need to buy chairs and sofas. The more expensive sofas can increase your Sims’ comfort at a more rapid rate. Televisions and radios can increase your Sims’ Fun level, while a chess set can improve their Logic skill. Obviously, the more money the household earns, the more interesting types of items you can buy for them and the easier it is to keep them happy and improve their skills.

Build Mode allows you to add extensions onto the house. You can add gardens, more rooms, and even a swimming pool. It is important to grow the house so as to fit more items and give the Sims their own space. When there are four Sims living in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house, things can get very cramped.

One of the most impressive aspects of the game is its expandability. Maxis has designed it in such a way so as to make available new skins and furniture types on the web to always add new facets to the game. For those who like the game, the replayability should continue for quite a while.

Graphics

The graphics of the game are very reminiscent of SimCity 3000 and consist of a hybrid of 2D and 3D. The furniture and other stationary items are high-resolution sprites that layer on top of each other. The Sims themselves are 3D and move around the 2D environment quite seamlessly. Throughout the game, bright, vibrant colors are used and the overall feel is a bit cartoonish.

The graphic performance of the game is somewhat disappointing, however, when moving the camera to different parts of the house. I have been playing it on a PII 450 with 128 MB of RAM and the choppiness of camera movement seems quite unacceptable.

Audio

The music of the game is upbeat and jazzy like other Sim-style games and does not stand out as exceptional, but the sounds made by the Sims are utterly charming. When they speak to each other, all you hear is unintelligible gibberish, but the emotions that the Sims are feeling are completely conveyed. Getting the Sims to interact in a believable way seems to have been one of the most challenging aspects in writing this game, and Maxis has done an excellent job.

System Requirements

Win95 or Win98, 233MHz or faster Intel Pentium processor, 32 MB RAM, 300 MB plus hard drive space, High Color 800x600 capable 2 MB graphics card with DirectDraw capable driver, 4X CD-ROM drive, DirectX 7 Compatible sound card, a keyboard, and a mouse.

Bottom Line

The goal of a great game should be to transport the player into another world. Truly great games make you forget where you are and what you should be doing and they immerse you in their imaginary world.

What makes The Sims so intriguing is that it immerses you in an imaginary world that is almost exactly like the real one. All the common tasks that we encounter every day are encompassed within the game. Cooking, cleaning, relaxing in front of the television, throwing parties, socializing with your neighbors, managing career and home life, even flushing the toilet, are all tasks in which you must guide your Sims. And although these seem trivial in reality, it becomes a fun challenge to maintain the happiness of your Sims by making them perform these various tasks.

Fans of Sim-style games may come to love The Sims as it really is another game in the evolution of the genre. Others, however, will find it somewhat monotonous and too similar to everyday life. That being said, no one can deny that this is one of the most original and interesting games to hit the shelves in many moons.

reggie posted a review

After a rather stunning success on the PC, it's a natural conclusion that EA was going to bring The Sims to a console system. Similar to SimCity, SimEarth, and even SimAnt, in this title (for the uninitiated), you'll gain control over a fairly massive amount of metaphysical real estate. In this case, it's the life of your Sim, an artificial person just trying to keep down a job and remain happy in this turbulent world.

First and foremost, the graphics in The Sims were better than I'd originally guessed. Compared to the original release of The Sims for the PC, the graphics here are fairly refined, and seem to be much more authentically 3D than a simple isometric view. With a great deal of material to work with, it's seems that this Xbox version includes some of the new items and features from The Sims expansions that have already been released on the PC.

To wit, the graphics are pretty good, although the audio leaves a bit to be desired, without much aural content. The Xbox allows for split screen play, which allows for another human being, the ultimate in entertainment accessories for those times when the game is getting a little boring. On the negative side, I'm not sure this game is appropriate for a console environment. It takes a while to get used to the controls, and this doesn't play at anywhere near what I'd call a decent speed.

The Sims is an entertaining title that focuses heavily on the gameplay elements that make it a good, solid title. Although it doesn't try to provide something it isn't (e.g. a heavily storied game for a console title, when in fact, it probably wouldn't support such a thing), it does suffer from what I'd consider major control and tweaking issues, enough so to ruin a great deal of my experience. Ultimately, I'd say be wary, especially if you've already got a PC and could get that version of this game.

reggie posted a review
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