The Sims: On Holiday
This Is really taking the piss. What next? The Sims Make Breakfast? The Sims Undergo Minor Surgery? The Sims Shit In A Bucket? Nothing would surprise us as the relentless money-making machine continues to paint the charts grey, with add-on after add-on.
The reason I enjoyed the game when I first reviewed it more than two years ago was that it gave you enough freedom to be anarchic. It was clever enough to allow you to record your very own snuff movie, complete with torture, scatology and lesbianism. But once that had been achieved, once you had stripped your sims of their last vestige of dignity, starved them to death and watched them indulge in harmless petting, you were left with a gloriously inane pastel-coloured world full of idiotic laughter, jobs and meals in a wholesome, irony-free American suburb.
Where's Frank Booth?
Having been forced to play it again and again though, I'm starting to see through the rainbow filters and the bright plasticine aesthetics of this simulated life. And there is something deeply disturbing about its ruthless cheerfulness and retarded baby-voices. The mock-'50s look has a hint of David Lynch's Blue Velvet about it (the perfect American dream simmering into a nightmare under the surface), and one can almost imagine a severed ear lying among the beetles and grass roots in one of those toneless gardens your sims so enjoy barbequing and hot-tubbing in. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but after playing through my fourth expansion pack, I feel like Alex in A Clockwork Orange, eyes taped open and undergoing some form of mindless reprogramming.
Sim Old Sim Old
First came Livin' It Up, which was nothing more than a collection of clothes, careers and furniture; then House Party, which was content to add the option "throw a party" when your sim picked up a phone. Hot Date came as a pleasant surprise because it wasn't the complete rip-off the first two expansion packs were. For one thing it added a completely new area, Downtown, where your sims could go out on dates, have dinner and shop for lingerie.
On Holiday follows the same line of thinking. Pick up the phone, call a cab and you're taken to a resort divided into several areas (with the snowy log cabins just a stone's throw away from the beach). There are loads of activities for your sims to indulge in, including beach volleyball, sandcastle building, archery, fishing and snowball fights. If that doesn't do it for you, you can always spend a night in an igloo, try to win prizes on fairground-style games, play on coin-ops or do a bit of minisnowboarding. Despite the holiday tag, though, there's no let up in the micromanagement aspects, and you still have to ensure your sims maintain their friendships and stay regular. As always, listening to the sims' infantile voices is like applying a cheese grater to your spinal cord while the music is possibly the worst ever. Fancy a half yodelling-act, half mock-Caribbean tune? Didn't think so. How about a "goo goo" rendition of Kumbaya as your sims sit around a campfire? See, I told you there was a sick and twisted undercurrent to all this niceness.
As with Hot Date before it, On Holiday lets the builders among you construct a resort, with the advantage of unlimited resources. This Lego side of The Sims is another big reason for its success, as is the fact that it is endlessly customisable. There is always a new pair of knickers to download, a new wallpaper scheme to paste on, a new dishwasher to discover. It has allowed legions of grown men and women too ashamed to play with dolls to give full vent to their regressive childish fantasies.
The creator Will Wright must be cackling insanely as he rolls in his swimming-pool filled with 100 dollar bills, and you can't really blame Maxis for squeezing its success for all its worth, even if it goes against everything modern games should be about. Yes, people play games to lead alternate lives. But they usually take the opportunity to go on a murdering rampage, save the world or cast a spell and not eat, sleep, defecate and work in an endless cycle just to earn enough to pack up the wife and kids for a weekend at Butlins.
Stay At Home
We Can Think Of Better Holidays For The Sims To Go On
Don't you find it depressing that people pay the price of a top range PC just to spend two weeks cracking their greasy skin on a beach and digging sand out of their orifices? If all you're after is slow immolation why not stay at home and hold a cigarette lighter over every inch of your body?
In fact, that's something we wouldn't mind doing to the sims, who seem to have such trite vacations. We can think of a few ways this expansion pack could have been improved. For one thing it could have done with some realistic touches: old women sunbathing their saggy breasts on the beach, holiday reps on the verge of a nervous breakdown, toes lost to frostbite. How much improved it would be if you could watch your sim run to the toilet clutching his sphincter after drinking a glassful of tap water.
And for some serious fun, what about piranhas in the lake reducing your sims to bloody bones and a nice axe-wielding chap in a hockey mask stalking them through the campsite?
Download The Sims: On Holiday
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP