The Sims et al

June 25, 2009 at 10:14 pm | Posted in games, me | Leave a comment

Someone commented the other day on what a letdown Sims 3 was.  Personally, the only Sims game I would ever recommend would be The Sims 1.  And maybe the expansion packs for the first version.

Back in the good old days, my ancient (4GB hard drive, windows 98, 128 MB ram, 400 MHz celeron) computer could run the Sims 1.

My favourite activities included trying to actively trying to kill my own sims and mindlessly playing normally with no goals.  But my most favourite activity was cheating to get a large amount of money, buying a tiny plot of land and purchasing all the most expensive and stylish items.  Then I would try to fit everything in an optimal manner.  I could spend ages just rearranging everything, then start playing the sole aim of maximising my sim’s traits and abilities.

There were never really any specific goals in Sims 1.  It was just messing around without too many restrictions.  Any restrictions were placed by yourself, such as choosing to work and having to get out of the house on time for the car pool, as well as being forced to order your sim about so that their needs could be fulfilled, instead of their desires (“no dude, you wanna swim in the pool, but I know for a fact that you actually need to eat”).  Sims 1 was a real sandbox game.  Sandbox in that you were given some toys and a room, and then you would invent your own games to play.  Similar to the days when computers weren’t around yet and you had a living room/backyard with a cardboard box/ball.  You made up your own games and your own rules and had fun.

Then, Sims 2 came out.  All they ever really needed for a sequel was better graphics and more toys, relationships and emotions to mess around with.

But no.  In an effort to add perceived value to the game, Electronic Arts (also known as E.-weliketomessupyourgames-A.) thought that it would be a great idea to add goals to the sims.  I remember installing Sims 2, getting all hyped up while customising my sim’s looks, and then played 10 minutes of the actual game.  And that was about it.  Suddenly, they were deciding what I had to do.  Goals I had to achieve.  Rules I had to follow.  That was too much like real life and I quit and uninstalled.  I had enough rules to follow, enough achievements to achieve and enough people deciding my life for me to bother facing the same stuff in a game.  Moreover, I couldn’t figure out how to get a more sandbox-like game going while the “plot” was trying to force me along.

Similar developments happened to Gameboy Advance games that came out in the wake of Sims 1.  The gameboy advance Sims games weren’t really sims at all.  They were just adventure games with specific goals and a mediocre  medium-sized world to run around in with areas that only became available as the “story” progressed.  They were pretty good, but it would have been assumed that a game with the Sims name on it would be along the lines of a life simulator like the original.  In fact, the two Gameboy Advance sims games that I played were actually rather like an action role-playing game, with visual-novel tendencies.  Run around, collect stuff, talk to people, play minigames.  Oh, the minigames.  A lot of minigames.   I take back the “action roleplaying game with visual-novel tendencies”.  Gameboy Sims was an action role-playing game with visual-novel tendencies addicted on minigames (also known as arpgwvntaom).

And finally, after a torrent leak that came 3 weeks ahead of the official release date, Sims 3.  As far as the reviews went, even more rules and even more goals.  I didn’t even bother trying it out.  Six gigabytes is a big investment.  For one, that is 50% larger than my original hard disk.  I’m not saying that Sims 2 and Sims 3 are bad.  They just don’t capture the original, captivating concept of an open-ended simulation.  My first response to the way the game was played in Sims 2 was that it had turned into a soap opera where you had to click the mouse a lot to make the plot move forward.  Soap operas were never really my thing.  Maybe that’s why I don’t like these new fangled Sims games.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is this insanely detailed, free, independently produced, dungeons and dragons-eque universe simulator with a highly developed physics engine…named Dwarf Fortress.  Maybe I’ll talk about this game some other day.

Funny that.  Microsoft word 2000 dictionary does not recognise “minigames” or “gameboy” as a real word.  Oh well.  Wordcount – 787.


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