Review by RockyRan

Reviewed: 07/11/07

The true owner of the title "#1 PC game of all time"

Back in 2000, Maxis released a game about a very odd subject: Life simulation. The game concept seems quite boring in reality (seeing as anyone can land a job and talk to people in real life), but the game somehow sucks the player into a virtual wonderland that impresses the player in nearly every respect.

The concept, as already obvious, is about creating a virtual person (dubbed a "Sim") or families, placing him/her into a house that is either custom constructed from the ground up or having the family move into a pre-made house, and carry out their lives in any way the player sees fit. The sim can get a job in one of many careers, cook, clean, play the piano, paint, dance, talk with other sims, watch TV, and basically anything that the player could think of that he/she does in real life. The sheer amount of animations and interactions between the Sim and his/her environment are staggering alone, but it's the sense of control what really draws players into addiction. The player can create a Sim by assigning a "head" and "body", which translates into face/hair and body type/outfit. It seems simple, but the different combinations are nearly endless.

The customization certainly doesn't stop there. Firstly, the player can construct houses from scratch, laying down walls, painting them, and providing flooring with either tiles, hardwood floors, concrete or carpet. The player decides where doors, windows and chimneys go, and they can also select the roofing style and color. The amount of wallpaper, flooring, chimneys and roofing is huge, but that is merely half of the "house" part. There's also the "Buy Mode" which allows the player to furnish the house with nearly everything any house would have, like beds, computers, lighting, grills, stoves, sinks, dressers, mirrors, chairs, tables, end tables, telephones, stereos, and over ~350 other objects.

The amount of customization is certainly what makes The Sims such an impressive game. Back in 2000, such a high degree of malleability in any game was unprecedented, and players could literally spend hours upon hours of making sims and building houses, not to mention the actual heart of the game that is controlling the virtual people.

The Sims are a whole different story. The player is able to create either a child or adult Sim and pit them between him/her and life in their very own house. They're semi-autonomous, in that they provide most of their basic needs but have some they don't perform, such as always going to work on time or paying the bills. This provides a very impressive balance in that the player can lead their lives fully, but for convenience and also for amusement, they can act on their own.

The game, however, is not without flaws. It does not take long for the player to watch a Sim play computer, then realize the silliness of playing a computer game in which the player watches a person play a computer game. The larger scope of the problem, however, is that the open-ended gameplay quickly translates into nothing-to-do gameplay. Besides making/furnishing a house, filling the Sims' needs and watching them interact, there's not much to do in the game. The Sims themselves also have their own slew of problems, such as the clumsy way they sometimes carry out activities (they sometimes turn around 4 or 5 times before picking up a dirty dish for some reason), and they can also "forget" some of your commands. For instance, the player would command a sitting Sim to use the restroom, and as she stands up, the activity queue just simply banishes. The result is in sometimes frustrating chore of assigning tasks and actually baby the Sims so that they actually do what you tell them to.

These flaws, however, are minor at best, and they do not get in the way of making this title one of the best games ever created. Seven expansion packs were created that added a slew of objects and several gameplay elements, which make the game a huge experience with over 1000 total objects, tons of places to go to, and dozens of hours merely exploring what there is to do in the Sims, which is sort of a curse within a blessing. In order to fully experience this massive game, the player is forced to buy 7 expansion packs, although they add a ridiculous amount of things to make the game massive. The player that can track down all 7 packs (which isn't hard to do. The current state of The Sims 1 in retail stores is that it's being sold along with all 7 of its expansions) will have over 100 hours of pure addictive gameplay, while the player that manages to just get the game and 1 or 2 expansions will quickly be bored.

Because of what has been previously stated, the game can be either minuscule or massive, in which case they provide a huge difference in experiences; either a huge game or a tiny distraction. The game is currently sold to retailers as the "complete collection" edition with its seven expansions, so it is likely that newcomers to the series will drown in objects and gameplay elements that they will thoroughly enjoy. Highly recommended not just for Sim game fans, but for any player at all.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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