Review by Anthropofobe

Reviewed: 04/13/03 | Updated: 04/13/03

Addictive at first, but then the tedium kicks in

Introduction
The Sims is a simulation game different than most others; it puts you in control of a family. You get to control a family’s social life, basic human needs, and, of course, what they do with their paycheck. It’s highly addictive game-at first.

Gameplay(6/10)
In the original Sims, you have one neighborhood. Each neighborhood houses eight individual families. After you create a family, you can pick a lot for them to reside in. Now, you get to build a house, buy furniture, then begin the ‘Live’ mode. To make any money, obviously your Sim needs to be employed. There’s a variety of career paths to choose from, from Scientist, to Mail Clerk, to Pickpocket. As you go through the game, you can move up on the job ladder, each successive job paying better and better. However, you can’t just worry about money and your job the whole time. You have to succumb to the Sim’s needs.

Like a regular human being, Sims get tired, hungry, bored, and strive for a social life. So naturally you need to order them to cook dinner, watch TV, go to bed, and make them hygienically acceptable. Especially at the bottom of the job ladder, it’s hard to meet all these needs to keep your Sims happy; unhappy Sims don’t get promoted, not getting promoted means less money in the pocket, which clearly precludes getting that expensive flat-screen TV.

I will admit though, the game gets tedious easily; doing the same routine day after day after day won’t keep you on the edge of your seat. Maxis did throw in a few things to add some variety, such as thieves, having your Sims accidentally set the stove aflame, phone calls from random people telling you that the wallet you turned in to the police hasn’t been claimed, so you earn $500, but that doesn’t taking away the dullness of the constant repetition.

Another part I am yet to touch upon is the Social Interaction. Sims can become friends, become enemies, and fall in love with each other (with a bit of help from you, of course). However, it isn’t particularly difficult to cause two Sims to become enamored of one another, and this doesn’t provide much of a challenge. Despite the simplicity of marrying two Sims, some of the careers that require a Sim to be on the social side (such as Mayor of the business career which requires no less than eighteen friends) does put up a somewhat challenge.

One last thing that can be good (or bad) is the initial addictiveness. When I first got my hands onto this simulation, I was glued to it for a week and a half or so, turning it into a near-obsession of getting my Sim to reach the Mad Scientist level of the science career choice. As time wore on, however, I spent less and less time playing, giving more and more time toward other activities until finally not touching the game for weeks at a time. I lost the driving force of my addiction after thinking about what I should do next with my Sims, because the game doesn’t really have a point. Without an incentive to play, the game became incredibly dull. Once you get a good job, possibly marry your Sim, have the best of everything in electronics and furniture, well, quite frankly, there’s nothing else to do. While you can start another family, the tedium is drawn into the game early on, and with each successive family, it gets boring faster and faster.

Graphics (7/10)
The visual aspect of the game is somewhat limited. The objects have the shapes, outlines, and colors to make them look like the real thing, but they lack detail. Like many other simulation games, you have four views (each obviously from a different angle) and three zooms. Even though you can get the four angles, the placement of furniture, trees, and other objects hinders your ability to see everything; by putting a hedge in a certain spot because you have hedges around the perimeter of the house to keep your Sim’s Room rating up (if they’ve got cheap items everywhere, their mood is brought down) may result in your inability to see certain objects-from ANY view.

Your Sims also show no facial nor emotional expressions whatsoever; they don’t walk slower when tired, aren’t walking with a bounce in their step after getting a promotion. Although this seems somewhat trivial, I do wish Maxis put more time into the realistic aspect of the individual characters.

Audio (8/10)
The background music isn’t a terrible burden on the ears; it’s a somewhat slow set of tunes. When the Sims talk, whether it’s on the phone, to a friend, whatever, they talk in what is to our ears gibberish, so you can’t get a direct interpretation of what they’re saying, but with the actions that come before and after, you can get a general idea. I’m not complaining about the choice to do it this way, on the contrary, I’m glad Maxis did the vocal aspects in this manner. Hearing ‘Hi, how are you’ would get noticeably more annoying faster as opposed to ‘Que keen zan chak ally an freekely botch’. The sounds that go with certain actions are pretty realistic too, whether it’s the flushing of a toilet or the ring of the phone.

Conclusion
Overall, The Sims isn’t a bad game. The gameplay, although ultimately monotonous, is not the work of the devil, but it could be improved. The graphics, while not awe-inspiring, work well enough for the game’s purpose. And lastly, the Audio perspective is decent, earning the Sims a 7.

Rent or Buy? Every so often, I do return to this game, playing constantly for a couple days, then taking long breaks. This decision boils down to how much you enjoy simulations: if you seriously like simulations, buying might not be a bad idea, but I don’t think this game is worth the $50 price tag.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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