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The sims bustin out | jiggos


The sims bustin out
I don´t want to control the life of a perfectly ordinary American Teenager. I don´t want to watch them moving around their boring day to day lives, trying to find a cheap place to shop; or find a girl (or boy) to fall in love; or watch them dissappear into the bathroom with a massive box of kleenex and the latest Mail Order Shopping cataloge with a lingere section when they can´t.

At least that´s what I thought before I started playing The Sims.

Put simply, The Sims is a bit like a Nestle Caramac candy bar – Insanely addictive for no reason whatsoever. Nothing happens apart from life! I go through life every day, why am I happy to put up with doing exactly the same thing on my N-Gage?

Let´s look at this lovely screenshot. My character (I´ve called him Rafe for no discernable reason) is doing... nothing. He´s sitting down in his rent free room behind the Clock in the Tower in the centre of Sim Valley. How exciting. When he´s finished sitting around doing nothing, he´ll walk round to his Bar job and serve drinks. Then come home and go to bed. Of such things is a hit game series made of. Seriously.

You´ve got a close up of your face on the bottom of the screen, and then a whole line of green and red bars that represent you, how you feel, what mood you´re in and what you´re capable of doing. If you ever wondered what all the lines mean on Dr Mc´Coys monitor in Star Trek... now you know. They tell you if you need to sit down, if you need to sleep, take a shower, take a s... loo break, go and socialise, and a whole load of other things begnining with the letter “S.´ Probably about a third of each game day is spent taking care of yoursef by working on keeping these meters full.

Of course these are just tiny trifling things to deal with when compared to the tasks.

It´s almost like an Adventure Game – but one for 7 year olds. “Now go find the chickens” says wizened old Uncle. So you find a chicken and press “5.´ Or you meet someone by looking up where they are on a map. Now none of this is stunning stuff. In fact, it´s pretty mundane, especially given you have a ´toilet´ gauge and ´watching TV´ gauge. That gives you the kind of idillic life the developers were aiming for. And all the time remembering you need to go to the toilet twice a day, and clean the shower once a week.

But what I really hate about the Sims, more than anything else, is the fact that I must... keep... playing... it... I can´t stop! It´s so trivial and tedious, but I need to keep those gauges filled! I need to get a new TV in the loft in the Barn. Where can I find a lava lamp? Argh!!!

The controls help this. Or the complete transparancy of controls. To walk around you move the D-Pad in the direction you want to go. To do something you press “5” and if there´s a choice of things you get a menu of your choices. To talk to someone, walk up to them, press “5” and get a choice of what to say. To find a task, talk to someone and they´ll tell you. To paint your Funky Moped carrott coloured, walk up to the Moped, press “5” and select “Paint.´

The Sims isn´t really a game as such. Yes it has goals and things to achieve, but there´s no panic similar to whaty you would find in something like Sonic the Hedgehog. Everything is a choice – if you want to run to go to work, then that´s up to you. You want to not go, then fine, don´t. Go and watch TV or do something less boring instead. But it is utterly compelling on the N-Gage as it is on other platforms. I´ve managed to avoid The Sims right up until I got this review copy in the post. Speaking to other Sims freaks though, this is something common over the whole genre, so it would be fair to say that EA have managed a successfull port.

Graphics look like every other Sim game I´ve investigated. Small and cartoony in a long legged lanky way, clear no matter the circumstances and an amazing amount of animation. I´ve been watching Rafe admire himself in a mirror, ride a broomstick, polish the shower, make breakfast, play quidditch, climb down the sewers, and be attacked by a Savage Chicken called J H Brenhan. Spooky.

Of course, no N-Gage game review can pass without looking at the online and bluetooth functions. While The Sim´s isn´t a massive multiplayer online experience, you can link up with other Sims users to exchange items and unlock new items. (although Sim´s In The City, where the City is only on the N-Gage Arena Server sounds scarily like something plausible for a sequel).

The mini games you´ll encounter throughout the game are used to earn money. For example in the Burning Spike you can get a job as a barteneder, sliding Milk Shakes (!) down the bar like the kids in “Bugsy Malone.´ Two of these games allow you to upload your progress to the N-Gage Arena for some shadow racing as you compete against other users on the Arena Server. The multiplayer options are nice, they don´t detract from the main aim of The Sims, but they illustrate why multiplayer is slowly becoming stronger now the Developers are working out what different things they an do with an N-Gage.

But whichever sick developer thought ´hmm, your Sim has a Nokia phone, better make sure he can play Snake´ is evil and twisted - but I like his style.

It all comes down to finding game Nirivana. Get the user in the zone and you have a hit game. The zone is a mythical place where you can sleep all day, play all night, and never grow old. The Sims has the required addiction level, but the realisation of how mundane the game can be means you´re not quite there.

Nevertheless, The Sims is, (am I really going to do this?) the best N-Gage game yet. If Nokia slap a Health Warning Sticker on the box, then we´ll slap the All About N-Gage Recommended award onto The Sim´s Bustin´ Out with an addictive 83%. If only because of the hint of something different, and the threat of the Veloci-Roosters hovering like a dark cloud on the horizon. Now if only I could change the default “All American Kid” to “Kelly or Jack Osbourne” then I might actually enjoy this game; as long as I could turn the volume down in public.



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