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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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What about MY Needs?
At any given time your Sims have eight needs that must be satisfied: hunger, comfort, hygiene, bladder, energy, fun, social and room. If these needs aren't climbing, they are falling, which means you need to work to keep all of these in the 'green.' Often you must decide which need to feed, because often a certain activity will satisfy only one or two needs and leave the rest drooping towards zero. This is one of the more unique aspects of the game, and also one of the more annoying, especially the Bladder and Energy needs. Having to tell a Sim when to eat and sleep is bad enough, but to have to tell them when to go to the bathroom (and if they have a low Neatness score, to flush afterwards) gets really monotonous. The Sims have a limited autonomy that will allow them to satisfy their needs, but generally they only act when they hit a crisis level in a given Need. Or, they will fulfill a need in a halfway manner, having a snack when they really need a full meal to satisfy them. To keep a sim totally 'in the green' requires some fairly serious micro-management until they have developed high skill points in some areas.

The Daily Grind
Your Sims have to work to earn cash to buy cool stuff -- does that sound familiar? -- so your first order of business is to find them a job, using their newspaper or computer. Kids (who are always kids, and never become adults) go to school, no questions asked; it is a shame you can't put them to work, as they will never get a chance to use that education. In any case, once you have a job you can get busy trying to help your Sim climb the corporate ladder of one of five careers. One sure way to advance is by increasing various Skills, which can be accomplished by using objects around the house -- reading a book to learn mechanical skills, or working out on an exercise machine to increase body skills, for example.

However, boosting skills takes a lot of time, and that time could be spent doing other things such as maintaining the house and catching some Zs. You also have a complex web of social relationships to maintain at the same time. How to make time for it all?

There are no weekends in the Sims, nor holidays, nor seasons or years -- just an endless stream of sunny days. And your employers have a strange kind of amnesia. If you take a day off, they don't care, as long as you come in the next day. However, miss two days and you are fired for certain. So most successful players of the Sims end up sending their sims to work every other day, This strategy exposes one of the weaknesses of the game, namely the fact that it is purposely designed so that you can't possibly get everything done that you need to do in a single day.

Its All in Who You Know
If you let yourself get caught up in the daily grind, the game will indeed seem like work and you will quickly tire of maintaining the house and telling your Sim when to visit the bathroom. The real fun comes from interpersonal relationships, and these can be as twisted as any Jerry Springer episode you've ever seen.

It is to your benefit to populate as many houses as possible in the neighborhood right away, rather than start with a lonely bachelor and try to make his career as a sports figure flourish. When you switch to one of the five houses in the 'hood, the other four run on autopilot, and those neighbors will come calling occasionally. As in real life, having friends is a good thing; inviting them over is a great way to fulfill that Social need as well as the Fun need for your Sims. Those with similar personality profiles and astrological signs are much more likely to get along.

With a wide mix of personalities, a party can be a real soap opera, with screaming fights, dancing, tickling, tons of gab, the occasional fistfight and even some making out in the corner. Relationships are totally 'open' in the Sims; while there is some jealousy, it is only temporary, and only affects a sim who is monopolizing the time of a sim another one wants to speak to. While there is marriage (for male/female couples only) there is no real loyalty, and relationships can grow or deteriorate with sometimes alarming speed. And of course there are no gender or racial barriers of any kind in this game; anything goes, except marriage for same-sex partners. Since the only purpose of marriage is to have a child, in the Sims world, this makes sense.

Even the closest relationships require constant maintenance. If you let things get too awry, a roommate or housemate will move out. A good solid friendship or marriage will greatly improve you sims' general happiness, so it is to your benefit to get one as soon as possible.

The social dynamics of the Sims is the game's greatest strength, and where true creativity comes into play. It is also where you can be the most sadistic and twisted, if that is your thing. As a friend of mine said, "That is what I like about the Sims. It is as twisted as you want to be."


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