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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Simulation
Min OS X: Not Supported    CPU: G3 @ 233 MHz    RAM: 64 MB    Hard Disk: 350 MB    8x CD-ROM    Graphics: 800x600 @ 16-bit

The Sims
October 2, 2000 | Michael Eilers

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During the month or so that I have been playing The Sims, I have had a number of memorable experiences, but none stuck in my head like the time my wife peered over my shoulder and watched me play for a while. After watching me (by proxy) make dinner, take out the trash, clean the bathroom and water the flowerbeds, she turned to me and said, "Are you sure this is a game? It looks like work to me."

I didn't have an immediate defense for The Sims; in fact, the secrets and joys of this title can only be unlocked after long hours of play, and aren't immediately apparent. This odd game is neither strict 'sim,' nor is it a game with set goals you can 'beat.' Such scenarios obviously bore creator Will Wright, who has yet to make a goal-oriented game. Instead, he's interested in the experience, and interested in chaos: throw a bunch of variables into a given situation and see what happens.

In the simplest explanation, the Sims is a fish tank, or an animated doll house. You can influence and even construct the environment in which your Sims will live, but you can't force them to become just like you or act like 'normal' human beings; instead they follow their own strange ways, led by personality traits and good old random chance. You can tell them what to do, but let them get too depressed or unhappy and they will refuse your orders, eventually collapsing dramatically on the ground and 'dying' like a neglected tamagochi.

The Sims' charm goes far beyond the colorful, crisp graphics and 'canned' animations of your Sim-citizens. The behavior of the Sims themselves can be remarkable and uncanny at times, resulting in unlikely scenarios and mismatched relationships you thought would never work. Add to this the ability to shape your Sims' houses from foundation to roof and you have a flexible, addictive entertainment that can't quite be called a game.

Interior Decoration 101
You can start with a pre-made family or create your own, and move into one of five lots in the neighborhood, providing you can afford the house. You have to pay cash; there are no banks in Simsville. Houses themselves come sparsely decorated, because one of the keys to having happy Sims is filling their house with the types of objects they can use and enjoy. Drawing from your stash of Simoleons (currency) left over after the house purchase, you pick from a wide selection of appliances, furniture, lights and decorative elements, as well as wallpaper and floor coverings. The truly ambitious can modify the actual house itself, adding and removing windows, doors, walls and even entire floors of the house. All of this modification is done with simple, intuitive tools and interfaces.

What makes your Sim happy depends very much on their personality traits, which are selected at their creation and are fixed for the duration of their lives. Choosing from various strengths of personality traits such as how Neat, Outgoing, Active, Playful and Nice your Sims are, as well as their astrological sign, you can shape them to be a truly unique citizen of the Sims world. These traits determine how they interact with other sims, with their environment and workplace.

The objects you buy to decorate your house must reflect the desires of your Sims in order to satisfy them. A picnic table in the middle of the living room is going to annoy a Sim with high Neatness traits, and one with low Outgoing is going to hated a house crowded with objects or people.

Generally, the more something costs, the more it will satisfy your Sims, who are capitalist consumers to the core. They like expensive baubles and lots of space, and they are willing to work for it, provided you keep things happy on the domestic front.


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