by EA Games
This game needs no introduction at all. The Sims and it's expansion disks have sold well in excess of 30 million units and is undoubtedly the best selling game ever. This is a staggering achievement when you consider until recently it has only been available on the PC. Of course with such a selling phenomenon on their hands it was inevitable that EA was going to eventually bring the game to the home consoles. The version we'll look at for this review is the PlayStation 2 version but the soon to be released GameCube and Xbox versions are identical.
The Sims is a simple game in many respects. You create a character and develop their skills in aspects such as logic, mechanical skill, body skill, etc. You get a job for your character and climb the promotional ladder. You'll need to socialise in order to make friends, find love and possibly marry and have children. In fact the PC version already contained enough to simply warrant a straight port to the PlayStation 2. However the developers have included something extra, a mode called Get A Life, that sees your character develop from a slouch living with their mother to a member of the social elite. The Get A Life mode rather cleverly incorporates tutorial messages and helps you become accustomed to the game. Even if you've played the PC game since it came out all those years ago, it is advisable to play the Get A Life mode as completion of the goals enables you to unlock characters and items that can be used in the Play The Sims mode. It also unlocks the bonus mode that enable you to play The Sims in a 2 player challenge mode.
Before I had the chance to play this version of The Sims I was curious as to how well it would transfer from PC to console. The PC game relies on the mouse to control everything which helps keep things simple. The PC version also runs at the 800x600 resolution so the game had to have a drastic change of interface to compensate for the smaller TV resolution. Remarkably though the developers have done a grand job and the interface and control scheme have been excellently modified to suit the PlayStation.
The L2 & R2 buttons switch between characters should you be in a position to control multiple characters. The L1 & R1 buttons control the game speed. The right analogue stick controls the camera movement and zoom whilst the left analogue stick simulates the mouse pointer. To make the pointer (which is actually a circle that stays on the ground) stand out, a yellow beam points upward and anything it passes over will take on a yellow tinge. Should you want to use an item that is close to another one then both items will appear on the menu that pops up and enables you to select which action you want. This prevents any clumsiness when selecting items and is a superb inclusion. I found the controls to be very good. If I had anything to say against the controls it was that it took a lot longer to place walls when I was building my house with the gamepad than it normally would with the PC version. This isn't really a complaint though as you only have to build your house once and it was still fairly comfortable.
The career, relationship, motives and personality details have been cleverly concealed and only appear when you press the relevant directional button. Of course the motive details, which tell you about your characters hunger, energy etc. always needs to have an eye kept on it. In order to help draw your attention to an area that needs immediate attention (say for instance your bladder rating is really low and a disaster is imminent) then the onscreen directional button will flash red to tell you something is wrong, very useful.
Whilst the Play The Sims mode doesn't have the material from the PC expansion packs included I did notice certain features that were not in the original PC version. Originally you could only have one neighbourhood but in this version you can have as many neighbourhoods as you like. Each neighbourhood takes up about 1,330KB (about one sixth of a memory card) which is impressive saying that you can fill a neighbourhood with many characters. Certain occupations are also included that were added from the expansion packs too. You can also just talk over the phone where as in the original The Sims, you could only invite someone over to your house.
The highlight of the PlayStation 2 version though has to be the graphics. Instead of the out of date 2D graphics that the PC version has, this version has a very nice 3D engine. It looks so much better and I can honestly say that if the PC version had a sequel and it looked like this I would be happy with it. The lighting effects are much better and look far more satisfying. It was great to see some hilarious animations too such as when your character attempts to fix the TV and they have no mechanical skill, they really do fry with their skeleton being visible. It was also great to see my character fall off the running machine because I tried to push him too hard. It's these little touches that help to keep you interested in an already addictive game.
I'm pleased to say that there are absolutely no problems for deaf gamers with The Sims. Just like in the PC version, the Sims speak in their own unique language. Icons are used to show how they feel and it's a system that allows deaf gamers to understand the game just as easily as a hearing gamer. In the Get A Life mode all details are given in text and you can check your goals at any time from the main menu. When the music is playing the musical notes emanate from the radio/hi-fi to visually show the music and the telephones move to indicate that they are ringing. It's difficult to suggest just how they could have made it better for deaf gamers as it's great as it is.
Should you purchase The Sims on PlayStation 2 if you already own the game on PC? Well if you are a fan of the series then I would say yes for the improved graphics but in all honesty there is nothing except for the Get A Life mode (which doesn't last that long) and the 2 player challenge mode that isn't in the PC version of The Sims and it's expansion packs. It's an impressive conversion and it's obvious that it's going to be big on all three of the consoles. If you don't own the game on PC then it's definitely a recommended purchase.
Overall Game Rating: 8.3/10 The Sims makes a great conversion to the PlayStation 2 and retains all the fun and addictiveness of the PC game. Definitely worth a purchase, on either of the consoles.
Deaf Gamers comment: No problems at all. If only all games were as deaf gamer friendly as The Sims.
thanks to Jo Upton at EA for enabling us to review this game.