Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why The Sims fail.

Okay, before the massive protests pop my ears out, I’m going to make a disclaimer. I’m not saying Sims isn’t addictive. It is. It’s taken many countless hours from many hopeful girls (and some really sad guys) who enjoy it, which I must stress is in no way a measure of its calibre as a video game. Just because some programme can keep you glued to the computer for hours clicking here and there every couple of minutes doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a game. By the same logic, this could be a game too:


What I’m saying is, games do have a certain calibre that needs to be respected. It’s a work of art, just like that awesome film you watched last night that keeps haunting you and is constantly replaying in your head, or a really well written novel. Sure, a big chunk of games consists of a lot of planning and technical stuff, but just as importantly, games need imagination and creativity. It’s like a really good film script; without it, all you have is shit like Ben Affleck films.

So I’m saying that compared to the many other games out there, The Sims fails. It’s a well planned out game, it’s not handicapped by bugs or poor playing experience, but in terms of the script or imagination, it is thoroughly lacking.

Let’s make a comparison for a bit, okay? Left 4 Dead: A group of immune survivors left to defend themselves in a zombie infested city. Fallout: You are a survivor in a post apocalyptic wasteland, scavenging for items and subject to its anarchist rule. Starcraft 2: Choose whether you want kick your opponents' ass by swarming them with a bunch of Zerglings, slicing them down with some Zealots, or just using the brute firepower of the Terrans.

In all these games, some really awesome dude sat down and really thought about what he/she’d like to come to life, and then proceeded to make a really awesome game where you could live out your fantasies.

Even if it involves a lot of sex.

In comparison Sims,

Doesn’t force you to imagine anything.

Honestly, it doesn’t. In Fallout, you’re given a choice in your adventures whether you’d like to give some dying beggar a bottle of your precious clean water, or blow his head off and take whatever stuff he has on him. As a matter of fact, you can blow anyone’s face in Fallout universe and take whatever they have on them. A vendor selling you bullets at ridiculous prices? No problem. Take a faceful of lead motherfucker. Some slaver wants you to enslave a 14 year old kid? Indulge in your inner doucheness and enslave the kid, or do the right thing and blow the slaver’s brains out.

Doing the right thing. Sort of.

Makes you wonder doesn’t it, if the world really did turn dystopian, would you be an asshole, or a Saint?

With Sims on the other hand, the game makes you wonder if... the couch should be facing the stairs, or if it’s blocking the way to the toilet, or does it match the rest of your furniture, and if you can afford it, and how ‘comfortable’ it is. Perhaps you spend hours arranging your expensive furniture after meticulously choosing the most matching colour and theme, but here’s the thing: All that meticulous planning does nothing for your Sim. You don’t level up, or earn more money, or go to the next stage of the story because, well, there is none. The Sim doesn’t give a shit whether that antique dressing table matches your new, modern, plasma T.V. As long as it’s expensive, it works, which kinda shows what a shallow, gold-digging douchebag a Sim is.

And if you like playing it what does that make you?

The only choice you’d have to make as a Sim that probably has the teeniest consequence is the occasional Job chance cards that come out while you’re at work, like if your Sim is a video games developer, this chance card might pop up:

“YourSim has a brilliant idea for a video game about running the lives of people in their own homes, but she is having a difficult time finishing the storyline for one of the group characters. One couple needs to be broken up, but YourSim doesn’t know how to do so in a creative way. Should YourSim write a story so that Aliens take the wife away while looking at the stars, or something else?”

Done rolling your eyes at the game’s self reference? Good, let’s get back to it. While this may seem like an interesting problem, it really isn’t. Each choice has a chance of either rewarding you with a lot of money, or it goes wrong and you have to pay money in damages. That’s it. You don’t become a celebrity or win award for the game which instantly gives you +7 stamina so you can stay up longer to do more push-ups or have more ‘WooHoo’ with the girlfriend, you just lose money. Which can be regained by well, working for like, 30 Sim days (approximately like an hour of real time).

And just F.Y.I, Fallout 3 addressed the above issue in an awesome kickass way. The correct answer was to steal another woman’s lingerie, and leave it on the desk in the basement. The wife finds the lingerie when she goes in there, and then consequently dumps his ass. You can even stay in their house to listen to the messy break up conversation. Or even kill them both, if you don’t think you’ve fucked their lives up already.

In Post Apocalyptic America, shooting the person is always an option.

But coming back to my point, basically my beef with Sims is that it doesn’t offer anything to the gamer’s imagination. The world you live in Sims is a world where you are a middle/ upper class, urban family, which you probably already are if you’ve decided to spend 170 ringgit on the game, or subsequently the minimum 3, 000 ringgit computer to play it. You don’t even get to experience what it’s like if you were, let’s say a thug who can’t find a job because you were institutionally discriminated by society and have to resort to a life of crime.

Unlike these guys.

Which would make life in Sims...

Absolutely normal and boring.

It does. The game involves you trying to manage your time between taking a dump, bathing, eating, cleaning, sleeping, changing, watching the T.V, and going to work. And just like real life, you don’t have enough time to do all of those without sacrificing something like your social life, or skipping work every once in a while. Heck, you don’t even get to take your girlfriend out on a date or take your wife out for your anniversary or spend some time with the buddies without having the constant danger of just dropping down and falling asleep wherever you are.

Now this is the most mind boggling part of the game for me. I mean, Seriously? If I wanted to do all those things I might as well just go and do it myself in real life. You gotta really sit back and ask, ‘Why am I paying 170 ringgit to see a miniature pixelated version of myself go to the toilet and take a big shit?’

Answer: Because you’re a tool.

And then somehow if you did stick it through the game, made enough friends to make it to the top of your career ladder, finally saved up enough money to buy the most expensive crap and never have to work again, then, and only then, do you finally, finally get...

The level 80 equivalent of Sims.

...nothing. Because the game never ends, and it’s just a big cycle of never ending boredom. The only thing you might experience is quarter/mid-life crisis, realizing that the 20 hours or so you played the game could’ve been spent at the gym, reading one of my posts, or playing an actual fun game.

Fail rating: 5/10


  1. I wrote a freaking long comment abt my obsession w sims n then my iPhone failed me. Basket. Anyway, i dreamt of u last nite. V strange n random. Howve u been? Nadia Fly FM

  2. Agree, agree, agree, agree, AGREE. All the other girls in my grade are fuckin' obsessed with this game. There are plenty of fantastic games out there! For example, my personal favorite is Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Interesting gameplay? Check. Cool characters? Check. Fun and creative storyline? Check. I mean, I just don't understand why so many people get sucked into the void of awful gaming. Like you said, it's an art.

  3. "I can't imagine anything by myself so I want the game companies to do it for me, and if they make a game that isn't a forced single-storyline type then I'm going to whinge about it on the internet comparing it to other games of completely different genres."