The Sims is a lifestyle simulator and house-building game created by developer Maxis. The Sims invites players to create their ideal home or building, populate it with human avatars, and carry out their day-to-day life. Whether you want to start a family in a mid-sized home, create a bachelor pad, or build a luxurious mansion, The Sims allows you to do so. Once you've created your home, you'll have to manage your avatars (known as Sims), ensuring they carry out the activities required. There's no clear way to “win” or complete The Sims, so it offers endless amounts of gameplay. As long as you have the imagination for it, The Sims is an enjoyable sandbox of creative tools.
The Sims series is a huge franchise in the modern day gaming industry, with countless amounts of expansion packs and sequels. This first entry in the franchise has seven different expansions, opening up the experience in some crazy ways. In its purest form, The Sims feels more like a fun set of tools more than a cohesive video game. There's no plot or progression to speak of; you'll simply build a structure and manage the Sims inside.
Creating your home is pretty simple, thanks to the intuitive building systems. You start off the game with a decent amount of currency, which you can use to purchase various building materials for your home. You can purchase an assortment of walls, stairs, doors, and much more. There is a good variety in aesthetic, with different building materials having various themes and designs. Once you've purchased your materials, you're free to assemble the house as you see fit. Walls and doors snap together easily, and altering your design is quick and easy. Once you've built your home, you'll want to purchase a slew of furniture and appliances to fill it up. You can purchase items like couches, beds, televisions, toilets, and more.
With your home completed, it's time to start managing the life of your Sims. Although Sims can perform a handful of functions on their own, it's up to you to manage their daily activities and keep their stats up. Sims have a number of meters to manage, denoting their hunger, happiness, health, and more. For example, if your Sim is hungry, you'll have to direct them to the kitchen to make some food. If they're feel depressed, maybe cheer them up by watching some television or calling a friend. There are tons of fun ways to interact with your Sims, and it's surprisingly addictive to follow their lives.
Ultimately, The Sims isn't incredibly complicated. You create a building, fill it with furniture, and experience the life of your Sim character. You can earn money by sending your Sim to work, which in turn allows you to update and expand upon your home. It's a never-ending stream of upkeep, upgrading, and maintaining. In many ways, playing The Sims is just like owning a real house; give or take a few headaches. It's a fun place to express yourself through design, experiment with your Sim, and generally have a relaxing but addictive experience. Although it's a bit basic in comparison to more recent titles, The Sims is a super fun game that embraces creativity and urges players to create their own stories.
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'Games that Changed The World’ is a multi-faceted term. There are the games that change your own world, and if you look at the A-List and our All-Time Classics, you'll find us waxing lyrical about our own favourites. Then there are the games that influenced a generation of other games, which is what many of the titles we've covered on these pages have done. Finally, there are games like The Sims that changed the nature of interactive entertainment, reshaping it and influencing how gaming is seen by the world.
The Architectural Dream
Maxis' founder Will Wright, is the father of all things Sim. And if you’re talking games that changed the world, you need look no further than his CV. Starting with SimCity in 1989, he has gone on to build a world-conquering empire of S/m-related titles. But his greatest success by far came about almost by accident. Wright has always been known as a developer with one foot in gaming and the other in the realm of academia. When he came up with the concept for SimCity he based it around his readings on urban growth, written by the American technology professor Jay Forrester.
Similarly with The Sims, Wright was influenced by the work of Christopher Alexander who wrote about the functional value of architecture. "I always wanted to do a game involving architecture," Wright explained in one interview. "The Sims has lots of design symmetry to the ideas of SimCity - you must look at traffic patterns in a house, land use and pollution." In fact, during most of its development The Sims was still very much the game about architecture that Wright envisaged. When the actual sim people were introduced they were only intended to be a feedback mechanism to show players how well they'd built the house. "Will pushed it as an architecture game and to this day The Sims really is still that architecture game,’’ claims Patrick Barrett, one of the original software engineers on The Sims. "But explaining to executives that it’s all about architecture was very difficult, so we started pushing it as a people simulator.
We put a lot of work into the people and we added a lot more objects. The executives understood the 'people game' idea a little better but they still didn’t think we could do it."
A Troubled Birth
The development of The Sims was a turbulent process, and any anti-Sims gamers out there will be banging your heads against a wall in frustration when you hear that The Sims was nearly canned on several occasions during its lengthy seven-year development, according to Tim LeTourneau, associate producer on The Sims. "Maxis, before they were purchased by EA wanted to kill The Sims. EA wanted to kill The Sims on a number of occasions and even we wondered who’s going to play this game? Who’s going to tell these little people to go to the bathroom? Even today it’s very hard to describe The Sims to someone. It’s very much a game you need to experience, because until you sit down and play with it it’s hard to see what the appeal is."
It's easy to imagine the weight of working on a game that was constantly under threat from all quarters. Tim admits many of the team working on The Sims didn’t believe in it during its development. "At the point I joined, which was towards the end of the development cycle, I believed it was going to ship. Did I believe it was going to be such a success? No. No way. There was no way you could guess that it might be popular and quirky."
But Patrick, who joined the team earlier on, is more adamant about his belief in the potential of the game. "I knew it was going to be big, I kept telling them every day. It was very addictive and I hadn't felt that since SimCity 2000.1 thought that the big challenge was going to be getting people to try the game."
One of the reasons people didn’t really 'get’ The Sims, was the fact there was very little out there to compare it to. Activision’s 1985 Little Computer People for the C64 (see last month’s Retro Zone) was a possible reference point, but how many remember that technologically stunted example? Even eight years later, when Maxis first started working on The Sims, it was still a big problem, and it took a long time before technology was capable of making it believable. "What’s important about The Sims is the people, and if you couldn’t believe that they were people it wasn’t going to work," explains Patrick. "To do that we had to do something in a sprite game that hadn’t been done before. The people had to be in 3D. So we put 3D characters in a sprite world and we couldn’t use hardware acceleration for that. Even though 3D acceleration was coming out, it didn’t help us."
Little Computer People also didn’t have to worry about the pitfalls of putting social interaction into the game, which was one of the most difficult problems in The Sims. "We had lots of issues to do with the social interactions to deal with. One of the first animations was the slap and when two guys slapped each other it was quite humourous, but when a guy slapped his wife it was spouse abuse and we've had to deal with issues like this all the time. The other standout feature was the toilet. The toilet was always on the cut list and we kept fighting that one. They wanted it like The Brady Bunch where there is no toilet!"
Hot Hot Hot
It was these same social interactions and the often unpredictable nature of how they occurred in the game that made it great fun to develop, according to Tim. "In Hot Date we’d done a grovel animation, and in the game you can rotate around to look at the characters from any direction. During the animation the girl goes down on her knees in front of the guy and clasps her hands and shakes them. Except that one of the first times we saw it, we viewed it from the back of the guy and you can imagine what it looked like! We laughed so much during the development of The Sims because of goofy stuff like that."
But surprisingly, it’s this sense of unintentional humour surrounding the activities of the sim people that has gone on to prove to be one of the most enduring features of the game. "The Sims is funny, because it’s like real life and we laugh at the irony of it, muses Tim. "One of the funniest moments I’ve ever had on The Sims was with On Holiday, when a sim was walking around with a metal detector and stopped right in front of the portable toilets and started digging. We didn’t script that, it wasn't planned, it was pure irony that they did it and I laughed out loud, not because someone making the game told me to laugh, I laughed at the ridiculousness of them and their environment and the way they interacted."
Some of the funniest moments during development came from the bugs in the game, especially when the animations were being mis-registered. The most recent expansion pack Sims Unleashed, which introduced pets, brought with it some of the most unusual looking development bugs. When the pets initially went into the game they were based around the same code as the people, so inevitably they would start doing the same actions as the sims would. This meant they would float in the air chopping vegetables on the kitchen counter, put fires out chat up sim people, nde snowboards and even scrub their underarms in the hot tub.
Sims Are Go
The Sims game eventually worked through its developing hiccups and finally got its release in 2000. While the expansion packs don't generally receive big scores in the UK gaming press the original game elicited widespread praise. Mark Hill even went so far as to say: "To miss out on The Sims would be to miss out on one of the most significant steps fonward PC games have ever witnessed." Two years and four expansion packs later, it was a very different S/m-weary Mr Hill who said in his The Sims: On Holiday review: "Nothing would surprise us as the relentless money-making machine continues to paint the charts grey, with add-on after add-on."
Therein lies the paradox with The Sims franchise, namely that it seems to be vehemently hated by most hardcore gamers, and yet it has sold more units (over 17 million) than any other gaming franchise. So who’s buying them and why?
"I think it’s a wide group of people." says Tim. "There isn’t one way to play the game, there isn't one way to go, there isn’t one type of house to design. There's not one type of Sims player, there are lots, and we hope to continue to support all those people with each of the expansion packs and the growth of the franchise."
But Will Wright has his own opinions about who's buying The Sims. "I think the largest impact The Sims has had on the gaming world is to bring a whole new species into gaming as potential customers, the females. The fact we can now sell games to roughly twice a many players and the fact that these new players aren't all adrenaline junkies is going to profoundly change our industry at some point."
But why do the developers think The Sims gets such a negative response from hardcore gamers? "Hardcore gamers in general don’t like anything that the greater population like," argues Tim. "They set themselves up as the niche; they’re the hardcore. The original Sims, was made for hardcore gamers. It absolutely was, there’s no question about it."
"It has a lot to do with the popularity of the game," continues Patrick. "If Microsoft wasn’t so successful people wouldn’t hate Microsoft, it’s fun hating them because they’re at the top and it's the same with The Sims. There are a lot of games out there that deserve the backlash more than The Sims."
The Sims: Expanded
And let’s look at those expansion packs for a minute. In the past two years The Sims has produced no less than five expansion packs, of varying quality and value - Livin’Large, House Party, Hot Date, On Holiday and Unleashed. A tad excessive? Perhaps. Milking the preverbial cash cow? Definitely, but then who could blame them, when presented with a guaranteed swimming pool full of money?
"I’ve got to say in general the US gaming press has been very generous with their reviews of the expansion packs," claims Tim, even though this hasn’t always been the case in the UK. "Understandably it’s something they should be incredibly critical on, but we’ve still continued to get good reviews on the expansion packs, even though there's a lot of people that would like to see us just tank." Much of the criticism that gets levelled at the expansions seems to revolve around the fact that they don’t really do anything new, it’s basically the same game with a few added extras, which, let's face it, a number of expansion packs for other games have been guilty of in the past.
"We can’t let the expansion packs make it completely new, because they tie to the original game and we can't change the way the original works," explains Tim in defence of such criticism. "It's not like mission discs for other games. It all connects back to what the original was and we don't do this lightly, we understand the importance of making every one of them something that delivers on the core premise of what The Sims was to begin with. I still believe there are a lot of hardcore gamers that buy the expansion packs, it's just not cool to say you do."
Despite the negativity from some quarters, no one sells 17 million games by accident and much of the success of the franchise can be put down to Maxis’ belief in the importance of community and online support. While the majority of the appeal might initially be playing through the official expansion packs, there’s a flourishing online community who spend their time swapping furniture and skins, or debating the merits of the latest expansion pack, which undoubtedly contributes to the longevity of the game.
Will Wright says: "I never in my wildest dreams thought The Sims would achieve the level of success it has. I attribute most of its success to the players. I think we designed a game that would normally sell a million copies. The next six million in sales I think were due to the community support for the game by players (fan sites, custom skins, stories, etc)." The Sims has not only helped redefine strategy games, but it also helped gaming become more accessible to a wider audience, which is perhaps its greatest achievement.
You've probably worked out a lot of this stuff on your own, but there are things you won't know about unless you've been playing for three solid months or happen to be one of the developers. Now, if only we could come up with a successful guide for real life...
Sticking with the characters from the tutorial (Bob and Betty) makes life much easier as their needs are muted for beginners. They won't die if you don't feed them and they won't need to sleep as long as you pump them full of espressos.
For people without any moral scruples whatsoever (ie most of you) a good way to have happy, healthy Sims who will advance in life is to keep a few slaves at home. They can do all the dirty work and it won't matter how low their mood sinks.
If you're creating a house with more than a couple of Sims, try to choose personalities that will complement each other. You need an outgoing one tor socialising, a clean one to keep the house tidy, and so on.
Are you a filthy, perverted voyeur? Do you get annoyed every time you put Sims in a bathtub expecting them to be naked and find that they're wearing a costume? Then make sure the first one to go in has an Outgoing rating of seven or higher, and they'll be more than happy to strip right down -and so will anyone else who follows.
If you have active Sims, make sure you have plenty of toys around to keep them occupied. If you sit them down to watch telly, choose the action channel. O Grumpy Sims like to watch horror movies, outgoing ones prefer a good romance, while the playful ones could watch Tom And Jerry all day long.
Just like in real life, their most basic need is food. Only once a Sim's belly is full can he or she lygiene start thinking about hygiene and love. So get a fridge and make sure they learn how to cook as soon as possible. Food processors double the hunger satisfaction, so that should be next on your list.
Pizzas are a quick and easy solution to hunger, but if you've built up a top chef Sim and splashed out on all the equipment you won't be getting as much out of your crust as you would from a homemade meal. However, it is a good idea to order a couple of boxes if you have a lot of hungry visitors.
Have you ever really thought about how much of your life you actually spend sleeping? This is a precious and finite existence, and we spend more than a third of it unconscious (or at least half of it, if you regularly drink German wheat beer). To avoid this happening to your Sims, get the most expensive bed you can afford straight away and they'll be able to stay awake a lot longer.
Starving your Sim may provide plenty of sadistic satisfaction, but the quickest, most effective way to get rid of one is to take away the ladder from a small swimming pool when they're inside. Glug, glug, glug, gluggghhhhhhhhh...
You may be a loner who spends every waking hour in front of your PC, but there is no reason for your Sim to be one. The social level is a lot higher if you have at least two people living in the house, that way you don't have to rely on neighbours tor a quick social fix.
Remember, it you want to progress up the career ladder you have to collect friends. A neighbourhood with only two houses doesn't provide much of a social circle, so start off a few more families, even if you don't intend to play them. However, you must make sure that you place a phone in each of their houses, otherwise you won't be able to ring up and invite them over, considerably limiting your choices.
When you're talking to other Sims your social score may be on the way up, but you may find that your hunger or fun level is low. To compensate, involve your Sims in activities that don't exclude talking: watching TV, eating at the same table, playing chess or pool, etc...
The actions that provoke jealousy are kissing, flirting, giving a back rub and hugging. So, unless you like to play with emotional fire, avoid doing any of them in front of someone in love with your Sim.
Relationships drop by two points a day unless you keep up contact, so you need to keep an eye on the relationship score. This is very important in friendships, since having 'X' amount of friends is a pre-requisite for advanced jobs, and your boss won't be impressed if he finds out nobody likes you anymore.
Marrying into money can be an excellent solution to your cash-flow problems. If one of your neighbours is a fat and ugly woman who also happens to be exceedingly rich, close your eyes and keep hitting the kiss and back rub button until she says yes. And remember that Sims aren't picky about the sex of their dearest ones, so if it happens to be a fat bald bloke, show no scruples. As soon as they move in they'll bring their money with them. Then you could kill them off and do it all over again...
When a baby arrives in the house, you need one of the parents to stay by its side all day, leaving you in great danger of losing your job. Since you're allowed to take as many days off as you like, as long as they aren't consecutive, get the parents to take turns staying at home.
Neighbours pop around quite regularly, but you could also watch out for the random strollers that the game schedules to appear at to, 2,4 and 8.
When you decide to kill off one of your Sims (or you've simply not taken proper care of them), you'll find they'll come back to haunt you. An um that you keep in the house and a tombstone in the garden are constant reminders to the surviving Sims of how cruel you can be. Not only does this get them down, they'll also get woken up by the wailing of the ghost. Getting rid of them couldn't be easier - just sell the tombstone and um. Although why anybody would want a used um is anybody's guess.
Think hard before going into a career that requires high body skills (see box out). Lifting weights may get you a strong Sim, but it will also be a very tired one, leaving little time to do anything else but rest. On the other hand, a military career has the advantage of not requiring any friends to climb up the ranks until level 6.
The car pool arrives to pick your working Sims up at 8am, but they won't miss it as long as they get in before 9am. Use this time to satisfy all their pressing needs, it's much better than sending them off to work starving, smelly and bursting for the toilet. That's a sure path to demotion.
Kids don't have the leeway adults do in taking odd days off. All Sim children start with a school grade of B, and for every day they miss their grade will drop by one. When it drops to F, they get sent to military school, which will cost you 1,000 smackers.
We all hate bills, we all hate taxes, but if you don't pay them before the tenth day after you've received the dreaded envelope the Repo man will come and take away your most valued possessions. Yes, even that widescreen telly you saved up for. Similarly, if you don't have enough funds to pay any of the regular services (like cleaning and gardening), the unpaid staff will get something of equal value from your house. The cheek of it.
Cleaning up after yourself is an absolute bore, so it's more than worth splashing out on a maid. In fact, when you're creating a new Sim family, you could leave out neatness altogether and spend the points on other personality traits, as long as you get that cleaner in every day.
Put a smoke alarm over your stove, that way you don't need to waste time calling the fire brigade when a fire breaks out due to low cooking skills. This is especially important at the start of the game, when you've yet to build the skill up and still need to cook.
Burglar alarms are more important later in the game, when you've got enough valuable stuff worth stealing. The best way to catch the thieves in time (or at least get the cops to do it) is by placing the alarms outside. You could build a single panel of wall in the garden just to attach an alarm to it and so catch the thief before he's even set foot in the house.
Try to keep noisy objects such as TVs, radios and computers out of the bedroom. That way your Sims won't get ratty having to turn them off when they've slid into the silky sheets of dreamland. Let's face it, remembering to turn everything off after you've used it is a right royal pain in the arse.
We don't know much about art, but we know what we like, and we like making money. Paintings work differently in that you don't sell them at a cut-price. In fact, pictures go up in value and you could make a mint by buying and selling them at the right times.
If you're getting pissed off at the way Sims seem to take the long way around the house when they're outside, build them a pathway.
Life in the suburbs of SimCity
Life is indeed cruel. Bom into an uncaring world, you grow up with dreams of success and end up subsisting on a diet of bad TV and low wages. Ah, but it's not all bad - with The Sims, you're virtually born again.
Starting off life as a young bachelor - or bachelorette - your aim in The Sims is simply to live. Not to survive, as is the case in reality, but to live life to the full. But to do this you need to find accommodation, meet the neighbours, get a job, find the love of your life - and even go to the toilet.
Billed as a 'tactical domestic simulator', The Sims will imitate every aspect of daily life, and as was the case with the SimCity games, life - far from being mundane - can throw up all manner of problems... That girl you fancy might just kick you where it hurts if you rub her up the wrong way; then there's also a chance that your boss could invite himself round for dinner - scuppering your plans to make a move on the girl next door, but furthering your chances of promotion. We're told that should you fancy starting fights and such like, you'll be able to play as a bad citizen, although whether you'll be able to get involved in full-on criminal activities remains to be seen. As the game is based in a US-style city, no doubt you'll have to contend with trash, sidewalks and drinking lite beer, rather than rubbish, paths and Boddingtons. Still, beats emigrating.
Seven years ago, Maxis founder Will Wright was toying with a rudimentary architectural program that would let people create their own virtual dream homes. Having neglected it in favour of a host of other sim games, it has now mutated into The Sims and is shaping up to be a high concept marriage of SimCity and Tamagotchi.
As the overseer of a neighbourhood of Sims, their lives are effectively in your hands and the idea is to help them find happiness, or alternately plunge them into a moribund existence of bitterness and despair. Homes for your Sims can either be bought or designed yourself, and then equipped with furniture, electronics, plumbing, lighting and other accessories necessary to keep your Sims happy. Once housed, they can interact with neighbours, form relationships, get married and pursue careers in fields such as business, entertainment, the military and politics. Just make sure they steer clear of journalism.
They say its not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game, and The Sims really proves that point. In either the level-based Get a Life mode or the open-ended Play the Sims mode, you quickly learn that the meat of the game maintaining your Sims motives (Hunger, Fun, Energy, etc.) can range from a hugely satisfying exercise in micromanagement to a twisted and perverse experiment in various forms of digital cruelty.
The Play the Sims mode is great for control freaks or budding sadists. You build a house and create a family to your liking, then direct them as you see fit, whether thats keeping them healthy and happy or making them beg for mercy (and they will beg). If that seems overwhelming, then the new console-exclusive Get a Life mode is for you. With specific goals in each level that grow progressively more difficult (and more interesting), Get a Lifes excellent learning curve offers tons of satisfying moments. Unlockabte two-player competitions round out the great variety in this brilliant and quirky game.
Finally, the title that set the PC-gaming world on fire is making its way to the PlayStation 2. And what's more, it's making the leap with a couple new features not found in the other version. Things like exclusive furniture, a more detailed Create-a-Sim mode and a free-roaming camera are just a few.
And even though you won't be able to play online, The Sims PS2 will come complete with a multiplayer mode. That's right--as if you didn't get enough of your deadbeat roommates in real life, now you can cohabitate with them in a virtual world as well. Or grab your wife, girlfriend, life-partner, whatever, and see if you can salvage your failed relationship on screen. And if that doesn't work, just take that memory card to someone else's PS2 and see if your Sims are compatible.
Sure, you've built the roads and buildings in Sim City--but do you really know who lives there? You'll get to meet the residents up close and personal in The Sims, wherein you control the lives of an actual suburban family and help them get ahead in life. You'll design their house, help them throw parties, see them shoot pool, watch them fall in love, even deal with everyday crises. It sounds a little strange, but so did Sim City when that came out, and this personalized soap opera could prove just as intriguing.
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.
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!'"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.