Review by KingBroccoli

Reviewed: 12/27/00 | Updated: 12/27/00

The Sims: All full of simmy goodness

Thanks to the uncanny ''Sim'' series from Maxis, gamers around the world have been able to escape from their own lives and indulge in a little bit of reality gaming, it all sounds a bit pointless but for some reason it is immensely popular. Thanks to these games you've been able to create your own works of art, whether it be a multi-layered tower or a safari. It's a very large series, but one that has kept the same general premise, you have to mould the limited facilities you have as professionally as possible into a structure that is both aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. It's all very open as to the way you can go about a game, and it can hook a player for considerable amounts of time. But there has always been something that has made these games appear a little shallow, the people that are relied upon to make you money are very primitive and never appear to show any independent thoughts, they'll just wander around aimlessly doing what they're expected to do, and nothing more!

This shortcoming has been drastically fixed with the release of ''The Sims'', a game that lets you take over and have complete control of the life of any Sim you wish to create. You can now endure the ups and even the downs of everyday lives without having to suffer the heartache personally! The actions, reactions and general emotions displayed by each sim are almost breathtaking. They have basic needs just like any person you're likely to meet down the street, and if you want to have a happy and healthy sim then you're going to have to try and give them everything they yearn for. Concentrate on one area of the sims life and another part of his psychological makeup is bound to suffer, it's all about trying to fit as much variety as possible into a sims day.

Basically, to make a sim happy you need to make all of the little bars down the bottom of your screen a healthy green rather than a disturbing red. Some of the categories include things such as health, hunger, bladder, fun and social. Everything you need to make sure your sim doesn't turn out to be a delinquint or a complete nutter is usually available for a certain price, so you better start saving up those pennies as your sims never seem to be completely satisfied with what they've got.

Money just won't be left lying on your doorstep, so you're most likely going to have to turn to menial labour to rake in the dough. Your sim will always be forced to start at the bottom of the work force and you're faced with quite a struggle if you want to amount to something more. Your employers won't give promotions to any lackey that comes his way, so you're going to have to make sure your sim gets the best! A happy sim is a hard working sim, so try not to send him to work in a bad mood, you may also have to develop the skills of your sim if a promotion is what you're after. For some reason, every single sim starts out with no talents, so you're going to have to waste valuable time giving them added talents. To do this you may have to instruct them to do something as simple as reading a cookbook or they may have to spend some time with a chessboard if increased logic is what you're after.

Perhaps the most intriguing part in the life of a sim is the interaction they have with their family members and neighbours. Making and maintaining friendships can be a lengthy process but can be well worth the time. When you're first introduced to another sim there are only simple instructions such as TALK, COMPLIMENT and JOKE available to you (how the other sim responds to this depends on their personality). Of course as you get to know these sims your options will branch out depending on their relationship. A good relationship will open up options such as CHEER UP, HUG, TICKLE and if you're talking about a male/female duo then FLIRT, KISS and eventually PROPOSE will all become available. But things don't always turn out well, maybe one sim just complimented another at the wrong time or perhaps they have two contrasting personalities, but for some reason not all sims can get along! Should two sims disapprove of each other actions such as BRAG, TEASE, INSULT and SLAP should help worsen the situation. Watching relationships blossom between your creations, whether they're amicable or not is half the fun of the game.

Some people may argue that creating a family and their environments would envelope the majority of the other half of the fun in The Sims. There are some pre-made families and houses in the game which are probably a better choice for the beginning player, but soon you'll yen for your own creations and will hit the Create-A-Family button. There are a lot of faces to choose from and a reasonable amount of bodies, but there just never seems to be exactly what you're looking for. Regardless, you should be able to create an interesting household, whether your preference is a ''happening'' bachelor or a polite family with two children. While looks are always fun, the real importance lies in the creating of a personality of a sim. A certain number of personality points are given, and you have to distribute them into certain traits which include NICE, ACTIVE and OUTGOING, the way you do this will determine the behaviour of your sims.

Building a house can be a daunting task, trying not to embellish upon a budget which has to incorporate furnishings whilst making the house look good is a very difficult thing to do. It will take some practice before you're making very livable houses, but those people with less style and creativity may forever be forcing their sims to live in dull, ugly things that look like an old-fashioned toaster. Of course you could just try living in a computer built house, but that's never as fulfilling now, is it?

The Sims is a game that has so much depth, it's impossible to cover every single event that you can do in a game. There are infinite possibilities, no family will ever face the same trials and tribulations! Jobs, relationships and living conditions will always vary, and there's always the chance of a random event (for better or for worse). I suppose this is what makes the game so much fun to indulge in, it's just as chaotic and unpredictable as real life tends to be!

The design elements of each sim is very high, they've been excellently modelled and sound pretty good as well. It would have been nice to hear some english, rather than the non-sensical drivel they ramble when they talk, but the little speech bubbles that appear above their heads do the translating well enough. Despite their relatively small size on your screen the sims do have a high amount of detail, their are stories circulating of people taken to their local optometrist with eye-strain after they strained to get a glimpse of a showering sim, THAT'S how realistic they look! Their animations are also well done, should a sim be busting to go to the toilet their face will bunch up in pain and they will perform some actions that will fill you with pity for them. Some of the movements are a bit jerky, but as a whole they're very believable.

The surroundings of these sims also look very good, with the right artistic talents your imagination can be put onto the screen very accurately. Some of the houses look even nicer than those hideous boxes you see lining streets these days. The in-game objects retain the quality of the rest of the visuals, fridges look like fridges, televisions have screens with black plastic around its edges, what more do you want from them? It's a very classy visual package that you won't be ashamed to have on your monitor for long periods of time.

There are very few problems with the sound of the game, background music is sparse (not featuring at all during the main game) but when it jumps up you won't be disappointed. It sounds much like that stuff you hear on a lifestyle or home shopping show, and this type of stuff fits the game down to a proverbial T. Sound effects are fairly common and have a nice ambience about them, they're so realistic that when your baby cries you'll feel instantly annoyed and want to immediately shut it up by sticking a bottle in its mouth. There are no flaws in this area that make themselves instantly apparent, it's a very nice job indeed.

The Sims is a game with an immense amounts of redeeming features, but it isn't all flowers and honey and cookies and whipped cream and leather whips and Pamela Anderson. There are actually some downpoints in this game! It often seems like there just isn't enough time in the day, those minutes do move by at a rather steady rate, and you can find yourself with not enough time in the day to do everything you'd like, this can often lead to a player trying to develope a well-rounded family rather than an individual due to time constraints. Also, when a sim is left on its own they tend to make some rather poor decisions, it's nice they were given some free will but it would have been nicer if they had also been given a decision making pamphlet or something like that.

Those few problems do take some fun away slightly, but they certainly won't ruin the game in an overly large way! The Sims is a very playable game with a very smooth interface and a lot of depth, you'd be silly not to try this game (especially of your a Sim fan) and it'll just be bad luck if this game doesn't manage to hook you. One of the top computer games you can get at the moment, just don't let it derail YOUR life!
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GOOD POINTS
- The sims are so realistic in every little action they undertake
- So much replayability and depth to this one little game!
- Very sharp graphics

NOT SO GOOD POINTS
- The game can make you feel rushed
- It tends to be rather tough to make a perfectly happy sim
- The sims do some rather dumb things at times
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GRAPHICS - 9/10
SOUND - 8/10
GAMEPLAY - 9/10
LIFESPAN - 10/10
FUN FACTOR - 8/10
CHALLENGE - 7/10
OVERALL - 9/10

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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