#16 The Button Masher

When I was in middle school I was introduced to SimCity by my school librarian. I never quite understood the educational value of building a city and destroying it with monsters and tornadoes, but I will be the first to admit that I have never fully understood how the minds of the faculty worked in that school. Regardless of the educational value, I enjoyed SimCity and SimCity 2000. So when I heard about the The Sims, I was excited.

Cheapskate that I am, of course I waited for the game to be cheap before buying it. Sadly, I didn't wait long enough for one or two of the seventeen or so expansion packs to be thrown in for free. I'm always amazed at the things they manage to add. Part of me is waiting for The Sims: Pandemic to come out. See how much blood your sim can lose before dying! Twenty diseases to contract, including Ebola!

Copious and increasingly lamer expansion packs aside; The Sims is the highest selling video game out there. And there is good reason. You have control over people you've created with individual personalities. You can control their actions, or leave them to live their digital lives. You also get to build and furnish the houses of your sims. The game appeals on a variety of levels, as most sandbox games do. I have a friend who plays The Sims in order to decorate the houses and fill them with furniture. I have another friend who plays in order to torture and torment the poor pixilated people in the game. One of his favorite things to do is to lead a sim into a small room and then seal all the exits. Then he delights over their panic and despair. It's very Cask of Amontillado.

Personally, I enjoy running social experiments with my sims. I give my sims interesting personalities and let them loose to interact on their own. I'm always curious to see who gets along and who doesn't. As in real life, I find working everyday to be tedious and annoying so I use a cheat code to keep my sims afloat financially. If only real life had cheat codes….sigh.

Should you eschew the cheat code route, you have a choice of several career paths from movie star to thief to doctor. In order to advance in your career of choice (movie stars start off as waiters, of course), you need to develop certain skills and make friends. The skills are relatively easy, provided that you have the proper equipment. The friends can be harder. I found myself creating sims just so my sims with careers could cultivate them as friends and get a promotion. You also have to avoid being fired while you're at it, and let me tell you it is hard to get your sims to the carpool on time. They don't move quickly in the morning, or ever for that matter. I found the whole thing way too frustrating and annoying, hence the cheat codes.

It's fun to set my sims up in the lap of luxury and watch the sparks fly. The social interactions are my favorite part of the game and I think most people would agree with me on that. It's amusing to watch someone's advances rebuffed with disgust. My favorite is when people get into jealousy fueled fistfights. Granted the negative emotional outbursts are more entertaining (I prefer not to think too closely on why that is the case), but it's also very sweet when two simulated people fall in love. Here's a free tip, back rubs go over well in The Sims and in real life (provided the recipient isn't a total stranger).

Just like in SimCity, The Sims does not have a specific goal or an end. If you're not a sadistic bastard, you play the game properly trying to keep your sims as happy as possible. Or you can make your sims as miserable as possible. It's entirely up to you. I've found that I can only play this game in short bursts every few months or so. The lack of any definable progress in the game wears me down. Besides, there's only so much routine I can take in a video game. I have more than enough of that in real life. Maybe I wouldn't feel that way if I had some of those expansion packs, but I can't say for certain.

Overall, this was an entertaining game and I got more than my money's worth in terms of hours of game play. When Sims 2 sufficiently drops in price, I won't hesitate to scoop it up. In the meantime I content myself with the original, although between you and me, nothing can ever top the original SimCity, watching a city self-destruct is always entertaining.


This columnist would love to hear your thoughts on her work. All glowing praise should be sent to her via the link on our 'About Us' page. Hate mail on the other hand, should be directed to whoever canceled E3, exactly where it belongs.


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