Developer : Maxis
Format : PC and Mac
Rating : *
A sickeningly soulless and Disneyfied version of Little Computer People, which embodies the worst flaws of the "Gaia Hypothesis" approach to simulation in resource management games. There is no AI (hardly even path-finding logic). It's like a statisticians version of reality, where tweaking the thermostat affects the happiness, mentality and buying habits of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Sixpack and their 2.4 children (and 0.8 dogs). Theme Park and Theme Hospital's take on this concept is far more cynical and therefore much more satisfying. Those are hardly classics either though.
The Sims is not exactly the greatest game of all time. For Power, Water and Pollution read Hunger, Fun and Hygiene. You don't "choose every aspect" of your Sims' life - you basically get 8 or so random stats and a poorly-skinned stick figure, and then have to build their home. Never has a game offered so much to tweak yet felt so utterly, suffocatingly restrictive. Basically the SC3000 engine (plasticcy graphics, curmudgeonly, illogical interface, slow) with Quake 2 (.md2) people walking around. You can personalise the game about as much as a Tamagotchi. To add insult to injury (in the event that you'd actually paid for the game), extremely poor production values are evident throughout - the Comic Sans typeface, the five-minutes-in-PSP title art, the jarringly unfunny writing.
"Look, look, you can buy your Sim a computer -- and they play Sims on it! What an interesting philosophical question that poses!" No, it doesn't - it's a cheap gimmick that's been around almost as long as we've had simulations. Basically, I've got things to do, people to frag, and the prospect of building a 'dream home' and then following the occupants around and ensuring they wipe their asses is not greatly appealing. (Especially when the animation is this bad... Paul Steed shits better character animation than this.)
Will Wright should take this nonsense back to the Mac, where it belongs, along with the other 'thought provoking classics' (lame, shitty non-games) like Myst and Riven. Oh, and if you're wondering, Transport Tycoon is vastly superior to the entire Maxis back catalogue. So there. Hopefully this sorry episode sounds the death-knell for the increasingly anachronistic Sim series.
The main problem with The Sims is that it acts as a highly accurate simulator of people with null personalities, and therefore its casual gamer fanbase feel right at home. Will Wright must be laughing his ass off that he can manipulate people so easily. How ironic.
Unlike in Sim City, downvoting this writeup will not change my behaviour.
In response to Milen : Sim City was open-ended because there was tangible progress. In The Sims, there is very little to do except micromanage your supposedly intelligent Sims. Everything is presented to the player from the word go, and you simply have to play the game as the designers intended to accumulate cash. The only alternative is to neglect your Sims (for about five minutes) putting the game into a stalemate. By comparison, Sim City offers a vast amount to do.
And is it really different? On one hand it borrows liberally from previous Maxis games, and the Creatures series, and on the other, the Japanese have long had a genre of life sims which are much more focussed and believable than The Sims.
I agree that there definitely is something wrong in the industry that means the need to make money stifles publishers' will to experiment, but there are still many truly original games released each year. I think it's amazing that The Sims got made considering EA's stringent qualtiy assurance - the game smacks of amateurism. Originality is good, but the game has to deliver on the original premise to work.Just being different is not enough.
Gamespot recently rated The Sims game of the year for 2000, over Deus Ex. Words cannot begin to describe how utterly laughable this is. It's like Plan 9 From Outer Space beating Citizen Kane to the Academy Award for Best Picture. Even the bloody Interactive Entertainment BAFTA for Best PC Game went to Deus Ex, and the judges for that are hardly even sentient.