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The Sims

The Sims

I played The Sims when it first game out on the computer, simply because of my utter and blind devotion to Maxis. Thinking everything that they touched turned to gold, I snatched it up quickly. Yeah, it was okay, but not the gold that I expected. I’m still utterly devoted to Maxis though, and wasn’t at all hesitant in picking up The Sims for the Xbox. I didn’t expect it to be perfect; I didn’t really expect much of it at all actually. And even those expectations were shot.

The big addition to The Sims over its PC cousin is the inclusion of the “Get a Life” mode. This mode provides an actual point to the game, something missing from the PC version and ultimately proving to be it’s proverbial Achilles Heal. The “Get a Life” mode proved more annoying than fun however. The first few tasks have you reading a book to gain skills so that you can fix your mothers TV so that she can sit on her ass and watch it while you do all the work. So, you just sit there and watch you Sim, reading his book, until finally he’s ready to fix the TV. And then your mother tells you to make her dinner. Nag nag nag.

The neat thing is though, if you can’t do well in this mode, then you can’t play the game anymore. You see, you have to beat the first bit of the Get a Life mode to get any farther in the game. I’m not well-organized and can barely feed and clothe myself let alone some artificial being in my Xbox, so this mode proved frustrating since that’s basically all it took to beat it. Finally, with all my effort and patience, I was able to get out of my mothers house without resorting to some sort of Psycho type of behaviors. Then, I was on my own; free to make my own decisions. I was now a man.

You can continue on with the Get a Life mode, but I didn’t really care for it. One of the big problems is my natural anti-social behaviors combined with a game that’s heavily reliant upon social behaviors. The other big problem is that controlling more than one person is a big pain in the ass. The controls were streamlined for the Xbox controller, but the game is designed for a mouse and a keyboard. Linking together tasks for Sims in the PC version was painless, requiring little more than the click of three buttons or so. Using the controller for this is just a annoying, and though it seems relatively simple, it really isn’t, and there’s no real reason why it shouldn’t be. It just doesn’t feel right. I also had one hell of a time trying to do intricate wall positioning.

The sandbox mode included with the game is supposed to increase the longevity of the title. However, I grew tired of it very quickly. You see, you create your Sim, and you try to lead them through life, getting them a husband or wife, having kids, and continuing on in existence. One thing that bothers me is that no one grows old in The Sims, either that or I didn’t play it enough. Looking at screenshots, I see that there are no old people, so therefore, I rest my case.

The Sims tries to be the pinnacle of all non-linear games, but again it falls on its face. To excel, you can go through a variety of different jobs, but basically when it all comes together in the end, you have to go through the same methods to get to the final level of the job. You’ve got to be clean, alert, and well-fed. That’s about all that’s required, and you’ll work up the company ladder. If this is true to real life, than how come I make just over minimum wage at a video game store as a part time clerk?

The second or third biggest issue (I’ve lost count) with the game is the limit on the amount of stuff you can have in your house, and the lack of all the expansion packs included in one package. The lack of the amount of stuff stems from the fact that you can only build one-story houses, which isn’t cool at all. There’s no reason at all as to why there aren’t upper floors, there just aren’t included. Also, only 2 of the 5 expansion packs were included with the game, meaning that you’re missing out on a bunch of stuff that PC gamers have had for over a year. And with no inclusion of the Xbox Live Downloadable Content feature, that means no upgrades once you’ve gotten it all. The lifespan depends entirely on if you like the game though. If you are a fan of The Sims then you’ll be playing it for ages. In this case it is worthy of a 7. For those of us who cant stand the sight of it, award a 3. Obviously, the fairest way to score The Sims is a 5, depending on where you stand.

The graphics are the only point in which the game has gotten any better, probably because console gamers don’t buy crappy looking games. The character models have gone 3D and have better animations, and the houses all look much brighter. The camera is just ultimately more of a nuisance than a helper though. It never seemed to be zoomed in to where I wanted it to be, and it never seemed angled to where I wanted it to be angled. The rather limited options on the PC version were chopped and full rotation is now available, but it just doesn’t work right. The audio is disgusting. The lack of any good music is further hampered by the lack of any Custom Soundtrack support, and The Sims gibberish-speak gets old very quickly.

In the end, EA did a lazy assed job porting this from the PS2. With no real upgrades at all, it just goes to show that Microsoft is willing to bend their “rules” of ports just for big consoles (developers are supposed to include some sort of original content exclusively for the Xbox version if they port it). The game could have, should have, and would have been good if they had just cared more, but since they didn’t, they can bite me. Thanks EA for wasting my time yet again, and furthering my disappointment in one of my favorite game developers. I appreciate that.

6 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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