Review by GavLuvsGA

Reviewed: 06/20/05

A game that you won't want to stop playing

Introduction

I was intrigued for some time about this game, and eventually decided to give it a try with a blind buy in one of my local department stores. After actually managing to set it up, I was able to start playing, and quickly got hooked.

Gameplay - 7/10

I'm sure I don't need to tell anyone what happens, but I'll do it anyway. You are given a street full of houses; just one in this case, though further expansion packs allow for a number of different residential streets. In each house, you get to control the various destinies of the residents. There are a number of pre-built houses, including some that cannot be inhabited until you accumulate the right amount of money. You get money by getting your Sims jobs and promotions, in order to buy improvements and keep your Sims happy.

There isn't really a lot your Sims can do in this version alone, but there are a bunch of expansion packs that can improve gameplay a lot. The game has also spawned other versions on next generation consoles, which are interesting for comparison.

In relation to other versions of the Sims, the game often feels a little slower. The Sims' movements often seem a little jerky, and appear to be made up of a number of different movements (sometimes, they will make a big task out of a simple command such as getting out of a chair or walking over to another Sim), but in many ways, the normal gameplay is better, since there is no limit to the number of items you're allowed to have (unlike the Gamecube versions I own, where you are suddenly prevented from adding further items when your house gets "full"). You can also add second storeys to your Sims' houses. Be warned, though, because sometimes this game can become slow and occasionally choppy, usually depending on your computer's memory, and I've had a few experiences of the game actually crashing without warning, so it's best to use a computer with a large amount of hard drive space to avoid disappointment and frustration.

Compared to the next-gen versions, there seems to be a great deal more "random", weird stuff to look out for. From time to time, a bear will suddenly show up for no reason other than to root around your trash. Social interactions can be very detailed, with you able to choose from various greetings, kisses and even conversation topics for your Sims.

Like in all versions, sometimes the game can be a bit aggravating. Sims will follow each other into the bathroom and refuse to leave when asked to; Sims will bump into each other in doorways and stand there staring at each other, and often they will find themselves unable to pass through gaps that look reasonably big enough for a normal person.

As well as the job promotions, you have to increase your Sims' skills and make friends in order to get the promotions you need. As you progress, this will usually help to make life easier (make everyone good at cooking, and you will reduce the risk of them setting fire to the place when they cook dinner).

Overall, the gameplay is very enjoyable. It lacks the "Story Mode" that was available in the next-gen versions, but it's no big deal. Often you'll be getting angry at yourself when you find that there just aren't enough hours in the day to play this all you want - usually when you get carried away and discover that you are missing your favourite TV show.

Graphics - 7/10

The graphics look generally very realistic, including the facial features and details included in the characters. The Sims are animated generally very well, and there seem to be very few faults.

My first complaint is that you don't get a lot of choice about character design. You get a range of clothing styles and a range of heads, but sometimes you may be looking through the choices and deciding you don't like the look of any of them (this is vastly improved in the console versions where you get to choose hairstyle and face styles separately from one another).

Sound - 8/10

The sound is generally good. My version has a tendency for the sounds to occasionally sound a little shaky, but I think that's probably a problem with my computer.

The Sims always speak in unintelligible gibberish, but it's strangely compelling to listen to them, even though hearing them screaming at you because one of their needs isn't being addressed can get very wearing. You get cool sound effects off the radio and TV, though I swear I've heard a few cuss words coming out of the TV programmes. Maybe it's just my hearing.

Play Time - 10/10

With this game, the fun can never stop if you don't want it to. You can keep adding to your houses and watching your Sims relationships, and they won't even age. To add to the fun, you can get a number of expansion packs, including Hot Date (take your Sims to a new "downtown" lot, which allows them to go our for meals and buy clothes), "On Holiday" (which allows you to go on holiday with your Sims), and I have recently added the expansion packs "Superstar" and "Makin' Magic" (the former gives your Sims a chance to become famous, and the latter draws inspiration from the Harry Potter novels by including magic powers and spells).

Final Verdict

Overall, The Sims is a very enjoyable game. On the PC, it lacks a few of the things I later found myself enjoying on my Gamecube, but it has more benefits such as - as I mentioned before - the ability to increase the size of your property considerably.

I would strongly recommend that you buy this game, and gradually get as many expansion packs as you can.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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