The Sims (PC) review
"I donít get it. I donít think Iíll ever get it. What the hell is so fun about watching someone else live their life? Why are we obsessed with reality shows like ďHogan Knows BestĒ, ďNick And JessicaĒ and ďThe OsbournesĒ? Have we suddenly become so desperate to leave our own lives that we will blindly follow someone elseís? I canít answer that question, I really canít. So if you sit there and ask me ďWhy is The Sims so popularĒ or ďWhy are there so many expansion packs and sequels to this gameĒ I..."
I donít get it. I donít think Iíll ever get it. What the hell is so fun about watching someone else live their life? Why are we obsessed with reality shows like ďHogan Knows BestĒ, ďNick And JessicaĒ and ďThe OsbournesĒ? Have we suddenly become so desperate to leave our own lives that we will blindly follow someone elseís? I canít answer that question, I really canít. So if you sit there and ask me ďWhy is The Sims so popularĒ or ďWhy are there so many expansion packs and sequels to this gameĒ Iím going to punch you. Hard. Because I donít know myself, but Iím really irritated at the fact that despite how boring this game may seem, Iím still glued to my monitor when I play it.
Remember the old Colecovision games? The ones that would never, ever end like Donkey Kong or Popeye. In some sick, redundant ritual you kept pushing through the same levels over and over with no goal in mind and no shining ray of hope known as ďthe endingĒ to bite at your heels. Welcome to ďThe Sims.Ē A twisted, mindless debacle that exists only to torture you by insisting you take care of mindless polygons who have very little decision making skills in their own life. A life that never has a conclusion, or an end. The premise of this game is the simplest Iíve ever seen: Live. And itís not that hard to do it. Minus the occasional burglar or haphazard fire that may occur, dying is the last thing on your list. You may never even find yourself in danger if you play your cards right. Well, any sense of real danger at least. Probably the most horrid thing that can and will happen to youóand yes, itís pretty bad from what I rememberóis wetting yourself if you donít make it to the bathroom on time.
The bladder is only one of several things you have to worry about. You have to keep a tight eye on your Sims hunger, their interaction with other Sims, their energy and comfort levels; even their hygiene is important. Day in and day out, these human qualities deteriorate and itís your job to keep them up. Clicking on the mood box near the bottom of the screen will pull up all eight statistics. As I said hunger, social, hygiene, bladder, fun, energy, comfort and their preference to the room all play a vital role to their mood. Most of themÖ well, okay all of them are simple to fix. Each ďneedĒ has a bar beneath it, as it goes down you will see one or many red arrows to the left of the bar, when it goes up green arrows appear on the opposite side. Sometimes you can take on two tasks at the same time. Like sleeping. It not only ups your energy level, but if you manage to avoid passing out on the floor your comfort level is going to move positively as well. Other times, doing one thing can lead to trouble in another. Like eating. Yes, itís going to increase your hunger meter, but itís also going to weigh on your bladder.
The mood plays an important role in your day-to-day life. If your mood is green, your Sim is more apt to doing less entertaining tasks like cleaning up, looking for work or building your stats. Stats are another important factor in this game, because they pertain to finding the right job. And thatís what real life is all about right? Find a job, pay your bills and contribute to society. Or at least thatís what Iíve heard. I havenít started yet. But the Sims will when you make them. Each stat pertains to a different field. Tone your body and youíll be more likely to find a job in the military. Build up your charisma and logic, a spot may be waiting for you in politics. Earn enough creativity and the world of music will open up to you. Granted, you donít need to fill them up to find a job, but the higher you get in one field, the more stats you are going to need.
Finding things to build them is easy; actually getting them up provides a little more difficulty. Anytime you do something that builds a certain aspect of your personalityóplaying the piano, reading about cooking or mechanics, working out or playing chessóa blue bar appears above your Sims head, when itís full you get one point towards that certain stat. The more points you have, the longer it takes that blue bar to rise. So I hope youíre not busy.
Stats will help you in the long run though. Build your body up and your energy levels will wear away much slower. Become a good chef and your Sim will cook faster and stay full longer, providing you with much needed time. Granted, all these things alone donít make the game hard itís only when they are combined. So you find yourself clicking from person to person, constantly checking on someoneís mood so no one dies of starvation or takes a nap on the carpet. It seems like there arenít enough hours in the day sometimes. So I like the single life. Itís easy, even in this game. Taking care of one person is so much easier then three. So the more people you have, the more challenge you intake.
So itís awkward at times, but not ďDevil May Cry 3Ē hard. So itís simple. Annoying and painful, but still simple. If doing the same thing on a daily basis isnít your idea of entertainment, then this game may be a lost cause for you, as there arenít many things going for it. The graphics are cheap, and in no way near the capabilities a PC has. The facial structures are horrid, I feel like I live in Uglyville over here. No matter how hard you try, or how much you work with things you canít ever seem to get any of your characters even mildly attractive. The environment is cheap and bland. The different wallpapers, flowers and paintings can sometimes attract your eyes, but it still seems two-dimensional in a 3-D world. This game lacks a lot of stellar details in terms of presentation. The sound is decrepit. Every thing about the voices reminds of a ďpeanutsĒ cartoon in hell. The voicesÖ arenít really even voices. They are short, quick mumblings that give you the idea the character is talking, but itís just irritating. The music in the background is a welcome change. Well, only if youíve spent the last year trapped in the mall listening to them play Yuko Unoís greatest hits overÖ and over.
So why is this game fun? I ask myself that very thing. I think Iím never going to play it again. But boredom leads to stupid decisions and once again I step into that fabricated reality to toy with another life instead of my own. Every time I do, I go to bed much later then I wanted because Iím sucked in. With all of itís downsides, The Sims still has an endearing although straightforward quality and structure. Granted, itís redundant, dull and downright pointless at times, there is still majesty in simplicity that Iím attracted to. Itís a much slower pace then Iím used to and a less intense experience then other games. It allows you to focusókeeping you attune to everyoneís needsówhile still making it capable to zone out and relax while youíre playing it. You arenít driving towards some epic finale; you arenít building your stats up to make a boss battle easier. You wonít even get an ending because this game is never over. You simply exist. In a dismal, choppy polygon world, you exist. And sometimes, thatís enough.
I donít pretend to know the ins and outs of all video games, and I donít claim to have played even one-third. While this game is dull, ugly and noisy itís still entertaining. True, you are never going to reach the end of ďThe SimsĒ, so itís like playing solitaire with only fifty cards, but maybe thatís not the point. Maybe this game is a digitized reflection of real life. Reminding us that good, bad and everywhere in between, lifeóas well as this gameókeeps going. Then again, it could be so simple and so easy that itís a welcome change for all the mass chaos on the shelves. I donít know. I canít answer why I like this game, but I do. I hope Iíve provided enough examples for you to determine it for yourself. Occaisonaly the simplest of things can be the most entertaining so keep an open mind. Remember that video games are sometimes like lifeósome times itís for the reward, other times itís for the hunt.
Community review by True (September 03, 2005)
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