The Sims review

Just like regular games, nearly every video game has a goal. Whether if it’s reach from point a-to-b, destroy a certain number of targets, accomplish a mission objective… whatever, it’s all in a formulaic progression where the programmers/developers made all of their player go through the game. However, simulation games were the only video game genre that defied a certain goal and just let the player have their own goals in creating a game, placing objects to wherever they want, and so much more! Geniuses like Will Wright innovated the genre with the Sim series starting with SimCity. Throughout the Sim series he made all sort of simulation games like SimTown, SimFarm, SimHealth, SimIsle, SimPark, Simgolf... you get the picture; they were all self explanatory.  It took Will Wright over a decade making all of these Sim games and then he finally came up with… well… “The Sims.” The is the very first Life simulation game where you’re able to create people and control their own lives. For the sake that it was a game where we can create whatever we want, whenever we want, it grabbed both hardcore and casual gamers appealed and as a result it still remains as THE best selling PC game of all time! Now, this is my review on one of the best selling games ever.

Gameplay

Right from the get-go, this is a life simulator that uses the point-and-click gameplay that only computers are really good at. With the power of the mouse, you’re the god of this game and it’s up to you to make whatever you have up in your mind to be created with just a click of a mouse. When you start the game, you make the decision of playing an already own household and play already created Sims (which are what these people called) with their families, property, and house already built or you can start from scratch and create your own sims.

Of course, we all want to create our own characters and in this game you can only customize their head and clothes to put on your Sim. You are able to choose male or female, child or adult, color on their skin, give them their own name, write their bio (optional) and create their own personality to differentiate each and everyone of them from being the exact same Sim. You can set how playful/serious, nice/mean, shy/outgoing, active/lazy, and neat/messing each Sim are. You can see that this game was inspired by horoscopes and they are there to create psychology in your Sims which was so innovative in which has never been done in a video game before. However if you create a child, you can’t finish completing you creation without having an adult guardian in that household. You can create more than 1 Sim together in a household; making a family. You can have a total of 8 in your family. After finishing creating your Sims, it’s now time to choose a household. Now if you’re going to put them in an already built in house, you have to make sure nobody owns it and have enough money. Remember the more objects are in that household, the more expensive it will be. And considering that you’re starting a new sims family with only 20,000 you minus well get an empty house area and built your own house.

Now you can start playing the game. The game is going on the real game time where every minute is a second and every hour is a minute. It utalizes the night-and-day timezone the game has, but instead of having to wait for 12 minutes to a different time zone, you have the power to pause, fast-forward, and double fast-forward up the time. When all of your Sims in the household falls asleep, it automatically fast forwards until something bad is going on or they wake up and go back to regular speed. This helps a lot from so many wasted hours like level grinding in an MMORPG.

Speaking of sleep, you have to provide everything that your Sims need. Needs are a core factor for making your sims to be in a good mood and obey your every command. You have to satisfy their hunger, comfort, hygiene, bladder, energy (need of sleep), fun, social, and room. The only way you can do that is if you give them such objects that offers each need, just as we do in our daily lives. You have to make their Sims, cook, take a shower, socialize with other Sims, use the toilet, stay comfortable, and keep them in a healthy and suitable environment. For hunger – it’s obvious to have a refrigerator (that always uses up your cash each time you get something from the fridge) and to make better food you need a stove, microwave, grill, and/or counter to prepare that meal. You also need a place to eat, so get them a table and seats. For comfort – everyone need to relax and they need to sit or lie down on something like sofas and chairs. Bladder – obviously you need toilets to do the job. Energy – Sims need sleep and if they don’t get any how can they operate, so get them a bed to sleep on. Hygiene – Nobody wants to smell bad so get them a bath, shower, or a swimming pool to wash away that stench. Social – nobody can live alone so they need to converse with other Sims by encountering them face to face or give them a phone call. Fun – Nobody can last boredom so give them TV, games, music, and a lot of entertainment! And finally Room – Even though you have given them all of this stuff, they need the right placed in the right room because you don’t want a toilet being place in the kitchen or the living room so it’s up to the player place them all, but also more expensive objects can make the Sims feel more comfortable and happy being in such room. But also, rooms are to be seen, so you need lighting (like lamps, windows, and other lights) to brighten the atmosphere.

Constantly, the player has to command the Sims to do something and as time passes on each of the moods will decrease its meter and to keep them in obeying you, the player has to interact with another object and (if there isn’t anything blocking your Sims way) you click on the object, click on the action, and the Sims will directly do as you say. However the Sims can’t multitask so when you give them multiple commands, they only do them one by one. The player can also cancel a command by click on that action indicated at the top of the screen to take it away and the Sim will not do it. If you’re not giving a Sim a command, they will automatically do their own action themselves, whatever they feel like to.

But in order to provide those needs, the player needs to buy and built certain objects in creating such a lifestyle  for them. That’s why you have the “buy mode” and the “build mode.” In buy mode, it’s specifically objects buying off objects and it’s up to the player to place them where ever they want as long as it fits in that house/room and there’s no object that has already taken that spot. The player as can move object to wherever they want to place them. Some smaller objects can’t just be placed on the ground so you need surfaces like walls and tables/counter in order for that sims to keep that object like computers, microwaves, sinks, telephones and so much more! There are a lot of objects in buy mode and you can get much more of them from installing more expansion packs or downloading mods. In buy more, there are objects separated into different categories; appliances (fridge, stoves, and other kitchen stuff), comfort (chairs, sofas, and beds), decorations (paintings, plants, mirrors, ect), Electronics, Lighting (lamps, lights), and Miscellaneous (hobbies or skill building activities). There are so many variety of objects that come in different sizes and prices, but the more costly objects actually doubles the satisfactory of needs it can provide your Sims making it worth the price.

Build mode on the other hand are what makes the house a house. You can create, rotate, and place walls, staircases (to create another story house), roofs, pond, swimming pools, trees, flowers, rocks, windows, doors (only way for a sims to enter the door), fences, gates, dig holes or grow landscape, floors/rugs, and everything else that you can’t buy from buy mode. Build mode specifically creates what you want like how big or small your rooms are, how to enter a room, and so many more. You can also paint your room to actually create a different atmosphere for your Sims. You have a huge variety of wall-paint to put on your wall and it also gives your very own house (from both the inside and outside) to have it’s own identity.

You can make all of this stuff happen, however the catch is that you need enough money to make it all happen. That’s why you need to give your Sims a job (or use the cheat codes). You need a job to not only buy your stuff, but also pay bills, services, and much much more! There are careers that you can find from the newspaper (1 job offering a day) or search for one on the internet (3 job offerings a day).  You can have a career in athletics, business, criminal, entertainment, hacker, journalism, law enforcement, medicine, military, politics, and science. Once you get a job, your sims have to show up at work when the carpool arrives or face the consequences of loosing your job (if you don’t call in from being sick). You can even get even more jobs from installing more expansion packs. Now jobs will make you start from the bottom with low minimum wage, and you have to build your Sims up to giving promotions. And the only way a Sim can give a promotion is to:

  • Have a certain number of friends
  • Be in a very good moode (having all needs has to be above average)
  • Develop skills needed for this promotion
  • Occasionally a decision is popped up for you to make in your job and its a gamble to decide which works. This can get you an early promotion, demoted, loss of pay, or loss of skill

So what are these skills exactly? They are learning curves that helps your sim to have an ability such as cooking, charisma, body, creativity, logic, and cleaning. In order to develop skills is if you buy your Sims objects from the miscellaneous category. Like a bookcase that has all the knowledge your Sims can learn (like cooking, cleaning), exercise machines to improve body, painting to learn to be more creative, play chess to learn logic, and mirrors to learn charisma. Now, if you give your Sims time to develop these skills they will improve, but in reaching its maximum skill level, it will take a lot more time to actually gain more skill level so just use the fast-forward button from making it a waste of your time (or use the cheat codes).

Now social takes lot more effort because every Sims your Sims meets automatically becomes an acquaintance and it’s up to you to decide if you want to make them an enemy, friend, best friend, or just remain an acquaintances by not talking to them. It does take time for your Sims to know of other Sims so just communicate, invite them to your house, give them a call, and so much more. If they continue to react positively then they’ll become your friend, but watch out, if you don’t many any contact for a while then you’ll loose friendship. There are a lot of activities that you can’t simply do with another Sims and you don’t want to hug, tickle, gossip, and so much more without building a relationship with another Sim. You can actually develop a relationship but it has to be very paced upon building a relationship. You can’t just simply kiss, dance, and “woo-hoo” in just a first meeting, you need to keep developing that relationship in order to get rewarded for that big surprise. But be careful because a Sim can only have one relationship with another Sim otherwise he/she’ll be caught by the other love affair he/she is having and it won’t look so good at all.

And you do all of this just to have a promotion, get better pay, and a successful career. And the more money you’ll make, the more opportunities you’ll have in creating your dream lifestyle right in the Sims video game.

Level Design

Right from the get go, this is game is part 2D sprites and part 3D polygons. It blends very well with the high level pixels that matches to the quality of Polygons to make it look like they’re in the same universe unlike other games that has a painting background and 3D objects like Final Fantasy VII. The Sims themselves are rendered as 3D objects, but the house, and all its objects, are pre-rendered, and displayed diametrically. The game is viewed at an isometric view point and the player can zoom in and out in three different distances and is able to rotate the camera around, but not quite like how we all do it today. The player can also move the camera left, right, up, or down by placing the mouse at the edge of the screen or use the keyboards. Since there are a lot of walls in the way, your Sims can change how we can see the walls bottom left menu bar by putting all the walls up, put the walls down when the Sims are in the room that has a wall between the player and the Sim(s), or put the walls completely down.

Depending on what vacated lot you bought, the player is stuck with the limited space and to get a bigger amount of space is if your Sims family have enough money to actually purchase that lot. Some say that you’re stuck in that lot like a “prison” because you can’t see your Sims when they work or child Sims when they go to school while the player remains waiting for their return back home. But with the power from the later expansion packs, the player can take their Sims out in other locations on vacation, on a date, studios, haunted dimension and so much more if they have a phone call for a taxi to go out to another location. Then you’re at another “prison” but with a lot more activities that weren’t available inside your house like dining in restaurants, ordering a room in a hotel, and a lot more. There’s always something happening in the Sims whether you have a stranger knocking on your door, a burglar robbing your place, a wild animal intruding, a celebrity cameo appearance, fire, a ghost coming out of the grave, infestation, and so much more, it makes the player decide to take action or let the worse come to the family home. This is all the unpredictability that continues to excites the player each time they boot up The Sims.

This game does not give a free pass to the player even though this is a game that lets the player do whatever they want. There are always consequences around the player like if your Sims starve, they can die, if they don’t take care of the baby or child the social worker takes the family member away from you, miss work your job is at risk, ghosts coming out of the grave, really bad a socializing a social bunny appears, don’t play for the bill a repo-man takes your possession… there’s just so much that does happen in The Sims that makes it so fun to play. There are a lot of NPC (non-player character) appearing on the same lot/area that you’re in and they do whatever they want unless you command your Sims to do something to them.  However, I do have to complain that sometimes things happen so much that you can’t react to it in time; especially when your Sims’ needs reduces so fast that it irritates the player from doing anything with their Sims.

Back on NPCs, there are a lot of interesting variety of Sims where there are many that are happy, snobbish, lazy, shy, outgoing, playful, and more. This is what makes it so fun to see and encounter such Sims and see what they’re like. Since this game uses psychology I can see a lot of Sims that are different just like how I see people. The Sims, in so many ways, is quite educational for including feature that no other game has offered like psychology, needs, socializing, activities, and building, this game taught me, personally so many aspect of life. In itself that is really remarkable!

Since there are so many objects provided to the player, making the Sims interact with these objects are so fun and like everything in existence, they have a purpose. Like if your in a swimming pool you can make them swim in it, if there’s a TV Sims sit down at watch it, and so many more that I’ve mentioned already. Some objects require more than one Sims for social activities like bubble blowing, volleyball, and tons more. This make coming into the Sims world so enjoyable to keep coming back.

Presentation

Since this is a game that has that isometric view point and 2D objects matching very closely to the 3D polygons, this really takes me back to old classic PC games that didn’t need full 3D graphics to be good like Bulder’s Gate, Diablo II, and the rest. Everything has a friendly interface when playing and has that artsy-feel when witnessing its atmosphere (which I’ll get to later). I really like that unrealistic approach to the game where you’ll see characters acting so goofy that in itself becomes very amusing to watch. Since it’s really hard to actually put voice acting in the game considering that there are lot of topics that no ordinary Sim would keep saying again and again, I do accept the “Simish” language. Since they do repeat the same line at each reaction you can see word balloons above their heads and see a symbol to understand what are they talking about. I remember laughing at so many parts of this game that its worth coming back to again and again.

I really love the fact that there are a lot of items, objects, and decorations that belong in a certain theme like 1950’s diner, jazz clubs, rave club, art houses, medieval times, magic, country, and many more that actually does create its own atmosphere in the game. This is one of the reasons why there’s a “stuff” expansion packs in today Sims game that adds more variety to the game and people keep buying them for specific creations.

One of the most unique aspect that the Sims has that no other game has is the music. The soundtrack in this game is varied (with so many genres to go with it) and creates that artsy feeling that I described early. When you click on buy or build mode you can see a sudden different tone to the game. Buy mode’s tracks is all very classical music that actually does get the player to be more creative, while Build mode (oddly enough) has a really deep and emotional piano solo. I admit that it seems out of place for a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but I felt quite emotional when listening to the magic piano song composed by Jerry Martin. It almost fits perfectly in a death sequence in a movie, but when listening to the artistry of The Sims, I start to wonder how precious life is when realizing what I was doing in this life simulator. I remember at a very young age I cried listening to the deep songwriting of Build Mode’s tracks that gets all of us choked-up when we listen to it.

Conclusion

There’s something about playing original The Sims that no other game has; the magical soundtrack, the wonderful point-and-click interface, the fulfilling artsy atmosphere. I admit that there were a lot of things that were heavily improved on the sequels, but The Sims does get better when you install more expansion packs to your computer. I’ll make a list of the best expansion packs for the Sims 1, but here are my overall thoughts. It’s very satisfying to keep playing and interacting with nearly everything you see in the Sims, but there were a couple of drawbacks that kept it from being the best. For instance, I really dislike the needs meter for your Sims runs out very fast and it’s even worse when you have a total of 8 Sims in your family that becomes a headache to fix their problems. Nevertheless, outside of the Sims series, there is no other game like original Sims. I still do find nearly everything about this game so appealing and there are so many aspects that the sequels didn’t do well in comparison to the first. There is now a Sims Complete Collection that includes all the expansion pack which is more recommendable, but if you were there when the original Sims was still in the market, it was always worth while waiting for another expansion pack to be released, we then buy it & install it to our computers, and spend so many hours playing the expanded game, just made it such a glorious accomplishment. Who knew that putting so many every day aspects in our lives could work so well into a video game? Will Wright was that man that knew it all! I understand that some may not enjoy the Sims like I do, but it has been some of my favorite memories of playing video games on my computer…

Things I love

  • Point-and-click gameplay has never made the player feel so powerful & fun!
  • The insane amount of objects to create and interact with
  • The feature of psychology, building, and lifestyles made itself educational to players
  • There’s something always happening in the game
  • The Sims expressions are so amusing
  • The music is absolutely magical
  • The game get SO much better each time you install a new expansion pack

Things I hate

  • The Sims “needs meter” shrinks so damn fast that keeps the player from doing that many thing with their Sims
  • When Sims are in a bad mood they take too long to restore that into a good mood
  • Children can’t grow up into Adults
  • There’s not enough space in cheaper lots and bigger lots are too expensive
  • Can’t control pets/animals in The Sims

The Top Lister’s video game rating… 5 out of 5

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