The Sims: Vacation Review

Nebojsa Radakovic
Sims: Vacation Info


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Vacation…all I ever wanted?

Everyone needs a break from the action – even virtual people. Whether it’s a weekend at a tropical getaway, a camping trip in the great outdoors, or lazing by the fire in a cozy chalet, your Sims are now just a phone call away from a vacation experience that won’t do a damn thing for them but might entertain you for a while.

Sims Vacation is the fourth expansion in the Sims

series. While certainly not the worst, it is not the best either.


Sims Hot Date, which added a new Downtown area

for each neighborhood, Sims Vacation adds a new Vacation Island for each

existing hood. However, as in earlier Sims expansions (i.e. Livin’

and House Party), Sims Vacation

is primarily concerned with providing new goodies for your Sims to interact

with. And, in that respect, it does an admirable job. Your Sims will now be

able to build sandcastles along the beach, play volleyball, have snowball fights,

go fishing, and purchase postcards to mail to their friends back home.

The new items are cool as they allow your Sims a wider variation of activities,

and the interactions are often lengthy and well thought-out. Sims can engage

in a game of volleyball for hours of game time, cheering themselves on for good

plays and grumbling over lost points. They can rent poles and fish along a pier,

entertaining themselves for huge chunks of time, casting their rods, throwing

back the small fries, and chittering with excitement when they find a souvenir


Most of the new items are intended for use on Vacation Island and will not

be available in Neighborhood mode. I suppose this is a good thing; if your Sims

could have a carnival game on their front lawn they might not be as interested

in climbing the career ladder. One thing is certain, though – the fact that

some items are only available in particular modes can make things hard to find

when constructing and outfitting houses and pleasure palaces alike.

Juggling hundreds and hundreds of items can be problematic on its own. Gamers are treated to submenus galore which, unfortunately, just seems to make locating certain objects much more difficult and time consuming. Often, after searching through the various menus for hours for a particular item, I would become convinced that the object must not be available in Vacation mode…only to run into it later, quite by accident, buried in some obscure submenu. This is generally frustrating and can sap most of the fun out of building anything. And that’s really too bad, as the default lots on Vacation Island are not exactly Club Med material.

Each Vacation Island comes complete with a beach district, a rustic woodsy

area, and an alpine zone. Altogether, there are nine lots which you can use

‘as is’ or build on to suit your own ideals…provided you were pragmatic enough

(or enough of a sucker) to purchase the other expansions. While Sims Vacation

offers a multitude of fun ways for your Sims to waste their time, many of the

items which would make a vacation area seem complete are only available in the

earlier expansions.

Your Sims will not run into any of their friends and associates from the neighborhood – avoiding folks you know is one of the reasons people enjoy going on vacation. Likewise, your Sims won’t run into Sims from your other neighborhoods, either. This is kind of disappointing, as it would have been a great opportunity to mix and match your Sims from various neighborhoods.

Instead, Sims Vacation offers ‘Tourists’, who (like the Townies in

Hot Date) are basically computer created and controlled NPCs that your

Sims can interact with. Also like the Townies, a Tourist could possibly join

one of the households in your Sims’ neighborhood if the stars are right.

Unlike conversing with the Townies in Hot Date, your Sims’ interactions

with the Tourists are very limited. Your Sim will not be able to ask a fellow

tourist on a Date or even to just Hang Out. They have no commitment to any conversation

or activity they undertake with your Sim and after a little small talk, a few

jokes and a flirtatious glance or two, they’re on their way.

The Tourists are always on the move. It’s as if the resort at which your Sims are vacationing is actually a rest-stop along some busy highway; the guests are as transitory as a migrating herd of caribou. In fact, although the vacation lots contain accommodations, your Sims will be the only ones sleeping there. No matter how many doodads you throw around to impress the guests, when it comes to sleeping your luxury resort will be about as popular as Bates’ Motel. The steady flow of Tourists to and from the lot at all hours makes it pretty difficult for a lone Sim to enjoy a little time off without his Social meter taking a nosedive.

Of course,

Sims don’t have to vacation on their lonesome. They can sneak off with a single

friend or go with the whole family. This expansion was actually designed with

the family vacation in mind, and families with children will get the most out

of it. Children will be able to interact with most, if not all, of the new items.

They can also go hyper, molest the resort mascots, and even get your Sim family

booted off of Vacation Island. This can be pretty funny and it adds a bit more

personality potential for the kids in the game.

The big losers in this expansion are Sims looking for a little rendezvous

with their next door neighbor. This can quickly turn into the vacation nightmare.

When Sims vacation alone or as a family, the player can control all members

of the traveling party. But when one Sim asks a neighbor to come along, the

game operates the same as it does when a Sim asks another to Date or Hang Out

in the Downtown mode of Hot Date. The vacationing companion will arrive

with a mood crystal above their head to let you know their most pressing need.

You won’t be able to actually do anything about that need, at least not directly,

because you can’t control the companion.

Unfortunately, when it comes to a Sims’ most basic needs (i.e., eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom), the companion often can’t bring himself or herself to do it. Sometimes they will take a clue from your Sim – if your Sim hangs out long enough in a bathroom, maybe the companion will use the toilet. If your Sim takes a shower, maybe the companion will do so.

This isn’t an exact science. In fact, it doesn’t work most of the time. It is very likely that the companion Sim will be miserable, having wet themselves, unable to sleep from hunger, and unwilling to eat anything except what comes out of a picnic basket and the burgers your Sim grills up. This can be aggravating as all get out, and it won’t do much to improve your Sims’ relationships, either.

And although you have full control of your Sim in Vacation mode, you may find

they have developed a rather annoying amount of autonomy, overriding your commands

and coming up with their own ideas of what they are going to be doing. This,

combined with The Sims’ legendary pathfinding problems, might make you feel

like you’re not controlling anybody and are simply at the mercy of a bunch of

pixelated little people hell-bent on a luau despite the fact that their bladder

is at critical mass.

The Sims Vacation is not a great expansion. There has been no overall

improvement in the game, it’s graphics, control, or it’s gameplay in general.

Hot Date was far more innovative with its addition of 40 new social interactions

and a few other features that had a big impact on the way that game actually

plays. Sims Vacation is basically extra building space and a few more

objects. It’s just another Jedi mind trick to keep us interested until they

iron the bugs out of Sims



New interactive goodies
Nice animations
Stuff for Sim kids
Still no mingling between neighborhoods
Limited interactions with Tourists
Autonomy issues