Who left the toilet seat up?
Random roommates are part of nearly every college experience, often resulting
in lifelong friendships or the proverbial kick to the nuts. During my freshmen
year, I lived in a triple room with two guys who were as far apart on the spectrum
as can possibly be. Let me tell you about their TV habits…
The first roommate not only loved watching his mid-day soaps,
but also reveled in loudly talking back to the characters and openly dreaming
about how wonderful it must be to live in “Soap Opera World.” The second roommate
loved the movie Scarface,
especially the part where Al Pacino says, “Say hallo
to my leetle friend,” and then shoots people dead. My roomie loved that
part so much, he’d watch it over and over again at 3 AM, before bedtime.
it to say, these roommates drove me absolutely nuts, and I came to the conclusion
that I should try to pit them against each other. It would be like a game” only
with real people. It was just a fantasy, though; I never did orchestrate my
master plan of Roommate Deathmatch, but squaring off against the roomies within
the new single player mode of The Sims on PS2 rekindles all those bitter
memories of aggravation. Except this time around, it’s fun!
The Sims, the digital people simulator already 3 years strong on the
PC, has been translated to the PS2. With
a new goal driven single player game, several two-player options, and a well-mapped
control system, it’s more than just a port. Hours can whiz by just coaxing your
little Sims along, pushing them to succeed, gain friends, and fight the ever-present
menace of BO. The Sims is still the same empathically clever game that
it ever was, yet it retains many of the same little problems, such as the micromanagement
annoyances and the lack of aging characters.
Speaking of which, The Sims has aged in the looks department. While
simple, but effective visuals have always been utilized, I wanted to see more
improvements made after 3 years time. For example, there are abrupt changes
between daytime and nighttime, pausing out to a black screen momentarily. A
smoother and more gradual transition over the course of the day would have been
less jarring and well… better. The camera is now fully rotatable, but still
only offers the above-at-an-angle view to look around your environments. I would
have appreciated a closer level of zoom to really bring me into the action.
On the whole, however, the look and feel of the game remains the same, with
a bright and colorful cheery look, but with some occasional slowdown.
No major changes have been made to the audio either. The Sims still speak a
language all their own, a gobbledy-gook of human sounds to express their emotions,
and different musical genres are selectable via your Sim’s stereo. What has
changed are the controls ” each menu and option has been mapped across the different
buttons. In order to speed up the gameplay, you have to hold the right top button,
like a shift key. I think it would have been more effective and less tiresome
if it worked like a Caps lock: on or off. You control a column of light that
highlights the different interactive objects. If the selected object is ambiguous,
a list of the possible nearby objects you might have selected will appear. You
simply scroll down and select the one you meant to pick out. While these controls
work, I was hoping for the option of more character-centric controls, for a
greater change of pace.
The single player mode, aptly titled “Get a Life,” pushes you through various
stages of life as you move out of Mom’s and play the social butterfly, climbing
your way to the top through pre-created homes. During this journey, you have
to put up with many less-than-savory roomies, who will call you their slave,
forcing you to pick up their garbage and flush their toilets. While you can
switch from your Sim to the roommates, there are many chores these roomies simply
refuse to do.
At first, I was so miffed at this one lazy roommate, Dudley, I decided to make
him lose his convenience store clerk job. He only contributed a paltry 110 Simoleans
anyway, which hardly helped compared to my burgeoning career in the Xtreme sports
biz. After making Dudley miss work a few times, he was fired, and my whole game
was over. So much for revenge.
challenge herein is to control both your Sim and the limited roomies and still
succeed at various goals from improving your Sims’s career level to upgrading
your home with the latest trends. The latest “trends” includes additional objects
unlocked after completing various goals within “Get a Life.” Completing these
checkpoints also opens up the two other modes within the game, the original,
open-ended PC version, and the cooperative and competitive two-player games.
Open-ended Sims gives you the opportunity to set forth your own goals, as you
create a melting pot neighborhood of Sims. You can also take your memory card
over to a friends place and load up your Sim in a new neighborhood. However,
between the single player game and the open game, The Sims can eat up
about 1/3 of your memory card. Time for another purchase. Damn those Greedy
The competitive matches pits two players in different races to finagle various
goods such as food, Simoleans, and booty from computer controlled Sims. The
cooperative mode plays out like a normal, open-ended game, as two independent
Sims split up their chores and work towards keeping up a happy home. The two-player
modes are a welcome option, if not drastically new.
There is also the option to entirely turn off the free-will of your Sims, offering
more control. Your Sim will be less likely to fritter away your list of planned
chores in favor of cooking himself dinner. But at the same time, the removal
of free-will happens across the board, so in the single player mode, poor Dudley
is going to start missing work on his own every day unless you remember to get
his ass out of bed.
All in all, the Sims is a well-put together version of a three-year old game.
I was expecting a reiteration and that’s what I got, but deep down, I was hoping
for more of a rejuvination. The Get a Life mode does offer a more focused game
for the goal-oriented naysayers of open ended gameplay, and playing The Sims
on a TV does open up the “spectator sport” quality of the game ” much better
on a sofa then wedged on a tiny office chair.
Still, I think if the PC and the PS2 games came out at the exact same time,
I would still choose the PC one for features that thus far remain inherent to
the PC, such as expansion packs (as expensive as they are), web features, customization,
and the larger scale at which you can exchange game items. If you can’t get
it on the PC, The Sims is still a game you won’t mind living with on
your PS2. Now if only i can get it to stop leaving its dirty dishes in the sink…