"BUANANA! TOOK! TOOK!"
Developer: Maxis Publisher: Maxis Genre: Daily Life Simulator Players: 1 ESRB: Teen Difficulty: Intermediate
Think about it: controlling someone's life. Maxis has captured all the aspects of daily life and crammed them into one CD: The Sims. The question is: why can't you manage your OWN life, instead?
Gameplay-- Like every other Sim and Tycoon game, you have to begin by building. In The Sims, you have to build a house suitable for living, and people with a balanced personality (five factors: Neat, Outgoing, Active, Playful, Nice). You have to build relationships with neighbors, keep your family of Sims happy, give them skills to improve their own lives, maintain the house, and maintain a steady income.
A Sim, who can be white, tan or black, male or female, adult or child, ugly or handsome (that doesn't matter), has eight factors determining its overall mood: Hunger, Comfort, Hygiene, Bladder, Energy, Fun, Social, and Room. You must keep these factors high by providing your Sim with the right environment, with furniture, entertainment, cleanliness, food, and friends.
All this costs money, though. You must pay for meals, furniture, services to keep up the house (e.g. maids, gardeners, repairmen), and taxes. To do this, you need to find a job by reading the newspaper (daily delivered) or searching the internet. You start with a low-paying job, and by taking your Sim to work every day with a good mood, and improving skills (e.g. Cooking, Mechanical, Charisma), you get hired, and more money and better work hours (Sims can have a better life with more time at home).
The game itself is just a view of the house in three different modes: Live mode, where you control the Sim's life in 60:1 time, Buy mode, where you buy furniture and accessories for the house, and Build mode, where you build the house's walls, gardens, wallpaper, and even a pool (Spas are in buy mode).
To not live a lonely life, you need family and friends. You can have a family starting with 1-4 people, and then build it by strengthening bonds with people from other houses. Sims talk with one another and sometimes have the same interests, which will make them like one another. Once they are better acquainted, they can compliment each other, dance with each other, cheer each other up, flirt, hug, kiss (they don't have to be opposite sexes), eventually propose (sorry, opposite sexes only), and have a baby (opposite sexes, pervert). Of course, instead of becoming friends, they can become enemies. They could accidentally insult each other, or just reject compliments and points of view.
There are also the hazards. Fires can break out if appliances malfunction (toasters are unusually flammable), people can die from low health, burglars can sneak into the house and steal furniture (this can be prevented by buying an alarm system), and if you forget to pay taxes, agencies can reposess furniture. People can die from fires if they're not hastily distinguished (I mean the fires), but sometimes it's amusing (more on that later).
Overall, the gameplay is fun and interesting, and perhaps the most addictive ever. There are some things missing, though: weather, sicknesses, pets (goldfish are in the game, but more of an object then a living thing), and most importantly, teenagers!
Graphics-- The Sims' graphics are wonderful. The house is viewed at a 45º angle, and walls are cut away when the mouse rolls over them. The lighting is accurate, and objects create shadows. Everything is anti-aliased, giving it a nice realistic effect, yet remaining iconic at the same time. Menus are stylish with easy icons and a nice blue gradient.
On a seperate note, when Sims are bathing or going to the bathroom, certain parts of the body are blurred out in a mosaic fashion (like on TV! Wow!).
Sound of Music (er, and Music)-- The sound is amusing and funny. Sims talk, grunt, yell and snore, but in a language-friendly way that I like to call SimBlabber. TV shows have funny sounds, with people screaming their heads off in a horror film, dogs singing in a commercial, or sound effects in cartoon shows. Sounds of objects are there, too-- the hum of an open refrigerator, a toilet flushing, pinball machine noises, and beds being folded.
The music is great. Sims can listen to Rock, Classical, Latin and Country on the radio, and the tunes are generic, yet catchy. Outside of Live Mode, the background music is perfectly fitting and even more catchy.
Fun Factor-- As I said, this game is so fun that it's addictive. You will enjoy building and decorating the house, and seeing your Sim prosper.
Although, at times it's frustrating when your Sim is in a bad mood, or you're afraid that you've neglected it and taken too many wrong turns in its life, but once it feels better, it's a reward.
Here's something fun to do: destroy a Sim. Give it a small, small house with no doors and watch it suffer. Even more fun: put your Sim in a house with a refrigerator and toaster, and keep preparing meals. After a while, the toaster will blow up, the Sim will be too scared to move, and it will eventually be engulfed in flames. All that will be left is a pot of ashes (really!).
Overall Satisfaction-- The Sims is a fun, unique game. I enjoy playing and experimenting with it, and since the possibilities are endless, and it's so addictive, you'll enjoy this game for a long time.