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The Sims (Windows)

Teen
ESRB Rating
Genre
Perspective
Theme
89
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Matt Neuteboom (941)
Written on  :  Feb 02, 2006
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars

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Summary

Welcome to The Sims universe. You're never going to leave.

The Good

What I am about to do here is give this game justice. I am going to give this game the respect it deserves.

What I am going to do is tell how this game single-handedly created tons of expansions, single-handedly got girls interested in gaming, and single-handedly changed the meaning of get a life. This game forces you to utilize your imagination to crate deep stories and cool-ass families. This game single-handedly changed the simulation genre forever.

For some reason I feel this game has been forgotten. It has been lost in a quagmire of expansions, until the “Sims-mania” has been lost in some pyromaniac teens mind after torching a family of eight Sims in this game. This game deserves more.

With a liter of soda by my side and a good day set off for me to come up with the right words, I will begin with the game play. On the surface it is a typical simulation. Starting out with your family you have nothing but $20,000. Gradually you get a job, go to work, build up some of your skills, and start a family. Then you start to get some expansions. Throw a few parties, make some “interesting” friends (and I literally mean “make”). Eventually you climb up the social ladder and become rich.

To one, this may seem like a boring game. But throw in some imagination and the possibilities become unlimited. To talk about this, however, is redundant as I believe Vaelor has already summoned up the games potential quite nicely.

Quote (borrowed with permission from Vaelor’s review):

Traditionally, the way the game was "meant" to be played, you create a Sim and you strive to help him/her excel in every aspect of his (I will use the male adjective from here on for convenience) life. In the beginning, your Sim is unemployed, homeless, and lonely. With $20,000 in his pocket and no possessions but the clothes on his back, it's up to you to buy him a block of land and build a house on it, get him a job and help him earn a living, find him a partner, maybe start a family. The many expansion packs released expand the scope even further - buy him a pet or three, take him on a holiday, make him a superstar!! It's your job to take this little virtual guy from zero to hero and everywhere in between.

But that's just the beginning...

So, your Sim is married with children and living in a mansion with his pockets bulging with cash, he's been to the pinnacle of every career path you've thrown at him, so now what? This is getting boring, right?

Wrong.

Use a little imagination. Switch to a blank neighborhood (with expansion packs installed, there are 8 neighborhoods to use) and play creatively. Make a little story. Write bio's for your Sims, and make them act and interact as your story befits. Is your military general Sim disgusted with those bisexual binge-drinking party animals that have moved in next door and keep him awake all night? Has your crazy old Sim slipped slowly into dementia after years of neglect and now lives in a house of filth and disarray which is avidly avoided by the neighborhood children? Is Robert, the successful college professor, having an affair with Jim's wife Candace, the famous journalist? Will Jim, the pro athlete, smash Robert's head in when he comes home early one day and finds them in bed together? Design, script, and enact your own little soap opera with your neighborhood full of unique personalities, and get ten times the gameplay out of The Sims.


I believe that Vaelor is correct in stating that if you use your imagination, anything is possible. Tons of options are available to you if you improvise and use your imagination. You know. That thing that you had before video games ruined it. Real life is boring, so mix it up a little in your own Sims game. Create your little own version of you. Then make your friends in your neighborhood. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it and take the story into your own hands. Want to create a military prison where you invite your neighbors over only to trap them in glass tanks? Go right ahead. Want to live in a purple house? Want everyone to live in a purple house. Do you like corrupt government? Or do you want to see what would happen to people if society had alternate standards? Please try it out! Not only this, but you can go into the game files and put your own mp3s in there, so your Sims can listen to your favorite songs on the radio. You are only limited by your imagination!!!

The Sims is a toy. You don’t turn on a toy and expect it to control you. You control it. Like Legos or building blocks, you come up with your own open-ended game play. When a game is your toy anything at all is completely possible. And this is what the Sims does.

But that is still not it. Create these deep delicate stories and share them on the internet. People everywhere share their stories with others over the internet to create a huge database of stories and people. Share your albums. Print out your stories and store them away until one day you will find them and (possibly) share them with children and grandchildren. Every day there are more items being released by the creators of the game. There are more fan items available for download than there are items available from expansion packs. And then you can indulge yourself in other Sims’ lives as well. I once read a great story of a lawn gnome who gets revenge on his new master after he gets drunk one night and kills his other lawn gnome friend. Tons of people love to read about your experiences in The Sims.

And then there is the added bonus of construction. You get the bonus of being able to construct your very own house like you want it. It doesn’t have to match or be themed. It’s your house; you make it the way you want to. Every house you make is different and unique to yourself. In fact, most of the time the house you make is one-of-a-kind (that is if you make it yourself) in the entire Sims universe. Even if you don’t like running someone’s life you can construct houses the way you want. Then when you are done, you can enter people into the house with different personalities to see how they react. If you make a play house, make some Sims with high ‘playful’ personalities into it and see how they react. I even remember once going to a party and a mom saying that her child played The Sims, but she played it as well because she liked interior decorating.

The AI needs to be noted here as well. Or technically, the simulation aspect needs to be noted. It is sometimes hard to notice when you are caught up and addicted, but the AI system has a nice affect upon your Sims decisions. It actually took me a few years to realize this as well. However all of the personality traits affect your Sims actions, reactions, moods, and likes and dislikes. For example, if you put low ‘playful’ stats on your Sim, he (I will be using males pronouns from now on to make it easier) will be interested in books more, and play computer games and pinball machines less. He will also dislike dancing and like to talk more. However if you put more ‘playful’ stats on your Sim, he will like video games more, and will be bored (or at least less entertained) by long conversations. This is just from one character trait. There are 5 character traits in total which take into account your Sim’s personality and likes/dislikes.

Also, each and every Sim develops likes/dislikes and develops certain instincts and associations. Using the example before, if you put high ‘playful’ stats on your Sim, he will like computers more. If he plays it more and more, he will develop and interest in it, and when left on free will, he be more likely to go play the computer and opposed to watch TV or play pinball. You will notice your Sims talk about their interests more in conversation as well. And they even have their own language, which you cannot understand but you can definitely sense their tone and mood. Your Sims will even remember whose bed is who’s in your house, and if you leave the free will option on, the Sims will only sleep in their own bed (unless you tell them otherwise). The Sims can love or hate different things in your house depending on their character traits. This is just a sample of what the game can really do.

Even the graphics of this game are a thing all their own. The isometric view complements the game well. Everyone thinks that even though it is isometric the graphics can’t be good. This is wrong. Even though 3D graphics have come out in more recent titles, the isometric view is the classical view. It adds to the Sims feel that will never leave you. I won’t say that every graphic is amazing, but every texture and object is done fairly well to make this game’s graphics seem original. And truly they are. These graphics weren’t ripped from another game, like every first person shooter tends to do these days. They are good and they add to the originality of game play.

And I suppose no review is complete with a section about music and sound effects. Well I will say one thing. The musical score is completely original, and GOD does it make this game good. It is perfect for the mood. When you’re shopping, it plays cheery shopping mall and infomercial songs that really perk you up. While building a house, the music is somber and moving, to simulate that you are changing your home and thusly changing your life, and creates a nice peaceful mood while you contemplate and work. I can guarantee you that the tunes will stay with you for years to come. Even now I feel nostalgic thinking of the shopping themes that I have always enjoyed.

The sound effects, I will say, are nothing truly out of the ordinary. Lucky for you, they aren’t too annoying (except for the sound effects of the cartoons. I hate those sound effects). The big deal here is that they are satisfactory in delivering a great game with some great music and good sound.

And last but certainly not least, the Sims is one of the funniest games to play. Watching the Sims interact with each other is extremely funny. Like if you try to kiss someone, they may lean away and slap you. Or when one of the Sims tries to clean the toilet, they say “yuck!” and how two women can get in a cat fight and one of the women moves away. Okay, maybe reading this review doesn’t make it seem funny when you see it actually happen you can’t help but smile and sometimes laugh out loud.

The Bad

There are a few things wrong with the original one which I must point out. Some of these things have been made better by expansions, others have not. First of all, this game has very little items you can choose from. I was actually surprised by how few items were actually in the original game than I remembered. Also, the same thing goes with the bodies and heads for people. I was looking for a long time trying to choose from the limited selection which one went best with what my friend looks liked. However, you are in luck. The expansion ‘The Sims: Livin’ Large’ expansion triples the amount of items, heads and bodies, and each expansion effectively adds more and more as you go on. So do not fret.

This is one thing that every person on the planet hated: you can’t go over other people’s houses. Yep, that’s right. The only house you can go to is your own. The only way to go over another person’s house is to take control of that family and invite yourself over, and even then you cannot control your character’s actions. Also, in the original Sims, the only neighborhood is your own, with nowhere else to go (meaning downtown and vacation, which come out in later expansions). These things become available in later expansions, but for now there is only your house. Also, the only Sims that will visit your house are the ones in your own neighborhood, which make it somewhat boring to not be able to see randomly created visitors. This is probably the worst fault of the game, as you house will become quite boring after playing in it for 5 straight hours.

Also, once your family is created, you can NEVER go back and change them. This is most of the time not a problem at all. However, when you want to make a story, everything must be premeditated, because you cannot go back and add a new character to the family. The only way to deal with this is to add the new character into a new family, and move them into a different house in the neighborhood. Then you must get your relationship up to 100% and ask them to move in with you, and hope that they say yes. That is the only way. I also have similar problems with pictures. You cannot change the order of pictures in your album, meaning if you want to go back and add a new frame in between two other pictures, you have to delete all the pictures after them. Luckily, you can always change the caption under the pictures, which is VERY good when you need to change your story.

Sometimes the Sims can get a little dull if you continually play the same pattern over and over again. Also, sometimes when you don’t take into consideration their moves, they seem more like robots than people. The more you play the more may feel that this game is becoming a huge repetition of the same day. This, however, can be remedied by mixing it up a little and using your imagination. Like I said, this games potential lies in what can be achieved when you use your imagination. If you don’t do this, it can lead you to think that the game lacks any real potential or any content.

Also, I can safely say that the Sims isn’t the most realistic game out there. Even though it’s supposed to be a simulator, it doesn’t mimic ALL aspects of real life. The time goes a lot faster, so doing one task like getting up to grab a plate then sit down again can take a half an hour in the game (30 seconds in real life). And you also get paid everyday, there are no seasons, you never wash your clothes, you never go outside of your neighborhood, and days seem to have no meaning as every day is the same. But Hell, who says that needs to happen. The Sims is meant for extravagant living, so who cares about those things! Still though, some people will find some problems with these things.

Also, despite the fact that you can put them on free will mode, the Sims you have cannot survive on their own. The only thing they tend to do is eat, which is especially frustrating because it ruins the idea of a simulator. Technically, it still is a simulator, but you have to do a lot of babysitting to make sure they don’t die (they seriously can die). This really makes it annoying. The Sims are just not self-sufficient at all.

This leads me to my next subject. Sometimes the Sims are just idiots. Even though the simulation aspect is built in very nicely, Sims can be very dumb. I find that in large families with one bathroom, the doorway gets clogged. Both Sims will not move to let the other through, and as a result the Sims may stand there for hours waiting for the other to move. Even under your watchful eye, the Sims just do some stupid things that make you wonder what the IQ of your Sims even are. It also makes you wonder if the game has more to offer, which it does, however you may feel otherwise after watching some stupid moves on account of the Sims.

If you haven’t noticed before, in order to get this game’s full potential, you need to have a lot of the expansions. I have said a few times in this review “this is added in later expansions”. This is true. Most of the problems that come with this game are usually corrected in the expansions. But as said by Vaelor, “Is your Sims life more important than your own?” How many expansions are you really going to buy? The original game is amazing, but it pales in comparison in how much you can do with all of the expansions. Sure, there is still A LOT to do, however you are missing out of a lot of different things that the expansions offer. You barely have 1/10 of the total items you can get (1/1000 if you include the fan created items and people). You can’t throw parties, you can’t go on dates or go downtown and open your own shop, you can’t go on vacation, and you can’t get any pets either (save for fish). This is really a shame to have to get the expansions just to get the games full potential. I really need to tell you that the original Sims does not offer enough to satisfy your urge. With some expansions, you will love it. But this is not to say that The Sims is not worth it, but getting the expansions will enhance the experience greatly.

But don’t get depressed yet. You are saved. Recently, the entire collection, including the original and all of the 6 or 7 expansion, came out on a collaboration disk. Even better, they come in original graphics and form. Nothing has been altered at all. The minimum system requirements are 800 MHz (.80 GHz!!!) and only 3 gigs of hard drive space, which is amazing for 7 games in one. Lucky for you!!!

And lastly, this game is ADDICTING. I do not know if that is a good or bad thing to you at all. However, sometimes it can be bad. Otherwise productive hours can be spent on this game. I have sometimes spent entire days living out the life of one of my Sims, only to have five hours pass and to ripped away from my beloved game. To add on to that, there are some days where you literally waste an entire day. Most of the time, I can get plenty done in the time frame of five hours, but sometimes all I end up doing is getting some paychecks and nothing else. But even so, there must be something to be said about addicting games. You may be able to know when to quit, but do your children know? Does you husband or wife know when its time to quit? If you plan on buying this game for a relative or friend, take into account these things. People have been reported to lose sleep, works, and schoolwork to get time to play these games. WARNING: If you or some you know has an addictive personality or usually have less than an hour of free time a day, then stay away.

The Bottom Line

This game is one of the most amazing games to have ever come out. It changed the industry in ways never imagined before. Never had a game created such a cult phenomenon that has lasted to this day. Even today it ranks in game magazines’ and websites’ Top 100 Games of All Time lists and it is usually under #30.

This game literally becomes your second life. After years and years of playing this game you will create memories for years to come. One day you will see this game and say “Wow, I remember this one time I created this family and….” Even five years after its release I still find it horribly addicting. Its combination of open-ended game play, subtle Easter eggs they hide into the game (who could forget Shiny Things Inc and their president Malcolm Landgraab), its laugh out loud moments, and he ever-lovable Sims themselves.

I cannot stress enough that it is never too late to join The Sims universe. The Sims universe is always welcoming new members that we can share experiences with. With the new collaboration that came out with ever expansion on it, there is no better time to join the Sims then now! Don’t pass up the chance to play The Sims. If you have never done so then you need to feel what millions of others around the globe have felt from this game. Don’t pass it up. The Sims is a game no gamer should ever miss. Ever.

Special Thanks to Vaelor for permission to use his quote. You are kind and generous for allowing me to use it. This review would not be complete without it. For those reading this review please take time to read his full review here. Both he and I would appreciate it. Thanks.