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Software Review:    The Sims

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Often folks turn to computer games for some much-needed escapism from real world concerns. With The Sims, players immerse themselves in a simulation that is not hugely unlike...the real world! The key here, though, is that players take on the role of director as they play a part in the orchestration of the lives of miniature people-like Sims. This program is a most innovative simulation game based on a rather, well, commonplace concept. 

Players begin by creating families of "Sims", build their homes, then play a part in the direction (or misdirection) of their lives. Players must define each gibberish-spouting Sim’s personality by carefully weighting the given personality traits (including such things as), choose their "skins", and then proceed to build a home for their new family with a basic start-up pool of funds. Making more money is crucial for survival, naturally, and though players won’t ever get to peek into the workplace of their employed Sim, they’ll take care of those who stay at home during their working Sim’s absence. All of the mundane tasks of everyday living must be dealt with – guiding Sims to bathe, go potty, prepare food, establish friendships, watch TV, take out the garbage, go to bed, and the like. Sounds too close to reality to be entertainment? Guess again. This simulation is oddly compelling and quite engrossing. Watching what players choose to do with their Sims is a psychologist's field day – players can assume their role of director taking on a relatively passive role, or actively work to pave the way for their Sims to thrive...or self-destruct. Those players with a tendency to philosophize might enjoy analyzing the parallels between human lives and those of The Sims -- whether or not it was intended as a "sim"plistic and satirical snapshot of our own lives -- reduced to a few simple formulas -- it can be fun to compare and contrast.

One particularly humanitarian kid tester never once felt the need to experiment with his newfound power by exploiting his Sims or havoc-wreaking. However, we can expect that most will want to do at least a little damage. In the long run, though, the greatest challenge lies in managing and maintaining success in the lives of their virtual pets.

Controversial issues that earn this title a teen rating by the ESRB include the potential for Sims to die (and come back as ghosts), and to engage in same-sex relationships. Another issue is the materialistic theme of the game, as there is no doubt that the more things Sims have, the happier they are – Spartan living simply won’t do in the world of the Sims. You won't find a Sim living on bread and water without watching him/her fall into depression. Sims' happiness is very dependent upon the amount of "things" they’ve accumulated.

Pros:
  • surprisingly engrossing
  • some strategy required
  • endless possibilities and combinations
Cons:
  • some parents will find themes questionable

 

UPDATE 2003: This original Sims title is now available in a super-value pack, The Sims: Double Deluxe, which includes the original The Sims game, The Sims Livin' Large expansion pack, and The Sims House Party expansion pack.

 

For Win/Mac By: Maxis       Ages 4-7 Published: 2000
 

 

Our Rating:

A

To Buy this CD-ROM:

Buy The Sims at Amazon.com

Best Buy: The Sims: Double Deluxe , which includes The Sims, The Sims Livin Large, and The Sims House Party

 Reviewed February 2001/Updated October 2003                                                                                             Comments? Email us.
 

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