Someone once said that 90 percent of life is maintenance and nowhere is that more true than in the new Xbox title, The Sims. For anyone who has been living in a cave for the last two and a half years, The Sims is a game that allows you to create a character and then oversee every aspect of their life–from shopping to sleep–and has been a smash hit on the PC, garnering awards and spawning add-on expansions packs galore.
People are so taken with the ability to create either little demons or an…els, that Electronic Arts has released a new title this past month called The Sims for the Xbox that follows the exact same concept that its PC brethren pioneered. Players start out by choosing a basic model and with the help of several editing tools, can create the “Sim” of their dreams.
Once the Sim is ready to go, the game drops them into a house and “life” begins. Now it is up to you to make sure your Sim doesn’t die from starvation or fire. You now have to nurture them into upstanding citizens or total malcontents–the choice is yours.
One of the hurdles for making a port of The Sims over to the Xbox was what to do about the ability to scroll around the screen. On the PC version, the mouse was perfect for zooming and spinning around the house and areas the Sims would be interacting in. Here on the Xbox, the task is handled adequately, albeit a little clunky, using the S-Controller. Using the Left Analog stick enables the cursor to pan and zoom around your little house and Sims.
Since real life type activities are being done onscreen such as cooking, watching tv, and using the shower, there is no need for the Xbox to really push some serious framerates per second. Most of the action onscreen is taking place at a leisurely pace, so there is no slowdown or lag present.
Remarkably, the graphics presented here are almost identical to those seen on the PC–bright colors, smooth textures, and no clipping are all calling cards of a tight visual package. Thankfully, The Sims has them all. In addition, Xbox owners can enjoy this version of The Sims in 480p if they have a High Definition set.
Music and environmental sounds and speech are quite unique to the Sims world–people don’t really have a discernable conversations with one other, its more like muttering.
Music is of the standard, elevator music inspired type. It’s not really catchy and really just serves to fill in some background noise. The bottom line is that whether you are using a standard tv or Home Theater system, it really doesn’t make a difference–either way would sound fine since Dolby Digital is not used in this Xbox title.
Imagine a game about your life–getting out of bed, having breakfast, using the bathroom, and then going to work and there is the basic gameplay mechanics to The Sims. Of course, when you first start out your new Sim, he or she will basically be a clean slate to begin life with. They will have very low funds, skills, possessions, and friends. Here is where you come in and raise your Sim to adulthood, or at least, something closely resembling that.
The major difference between the PC version of The Sims and this Xbox offering is that the PC version was much more open ended when it came to handling your Sim. In the Xbox version, players must reach goals set by the game in order to progress. If your Sim runs out of money, the game is over. If your Sim starves to death, the game is over. If your Sim burns to death, the game is over and so on and so forth.
However, once the Get a Life play feature has been beaten, players can choose the more traditional Play the Sims mode of play which is closely related to the PC version–and even invite over one other friend for a little multiplayer Sim action.
The learning curve is a little steep at first, considering that the Sim cannot cook or fix things right off the bat, so some time must be invested in getting your Sim educated and following a groove. There is a separate menu screen accessible by the controller that shows you the readout of all your Sim’s bio functions such as Bladder, Hunger, Rest, Comfort, and Social needs. You must endeavor to keep all the bio readout bars in the green and keep your Sim adjusted–or not.
The Sims does not really strike one as a game to be replayed, but rather continued from its inception. Much like the title Animal Crossing on the GameCube, once someone has set up house with a character, life is carried on everyday until the title is dropped or the unfortunate happens to your little Sim.
You can, of course, create several different characters and have them all living parallel lives to one another. Maybe they will even cross paths one day.