Mar 6, 2012
I remember the first time I played The Sims, back in the early 2000’s. I’d kind of missed the big wave of obsession over it, but decided to try it out anyway. I enjoyed it a fair bit, but managed not to get addicted (though I could completely understand how it would be easy for others to do so). I was less interested in building homes for my Sims than I was in playing puppet-master with them. I enjoyed creating their relationships and frustrating them sometimes. So when I saw that EA Games had developed a mobile version of The Sims I found nostalgia compelling me to try it out. And imagine this – it’s free!
The Sims FreePlay truly is free to download, and ad-free as well. That doesn’t mean users won’t necessarily end up spending some money on it, but I’ll get to that. The Sims FreePlay sets users up immediately with a Sim and its house. For those who aren’t familiar with the original game, Sims are people avatars that can be customized. This includes all of the details of their physical appearance, and there is a set of personalities. Once created, the Sim moves into its house, which is then customized as well. The Sims Freeplay is a bit different from the original in that Sims can also develop careers and have pets.
Sims are a little bit like Tamagotchis in that they have needs and wants which must be monitored and cared for. This includes their happiness, hunger, sleep, hygiene and, uh, need to use the bathroom. To motivate users to continue playing the game presents challenges to complete, such as building a garden for the Sim, or having it make a friend. Completing challenges earns XP which earns levels which unlock items to purchase. The Sims Freeplay has in-game money as well as “LP” that can be spent on items or activities. To keep Sims happy they have to do things like bathe, sleep, and listen to music. All of these activities take time, real-world time to complete. Luckily they will continue in the background when the program is closed, or else LP can be spent to speed them up. If users run out of earned LP then they can of course spend a few real-world dollars to gain more.
It’s a fun game, if you enjoy digital pets. Sims can be friends or even romantically involved with one another. It’s vicarious living at the extreme, and I think that’s why it’s so captivating. When Sims are sad they generate a lot of sympathy so the drive to keep them healthy and happy will keep people playing on and on.
It should be mentioned that it is a huge game which required me to clear out a significant portion of memory just for it to install. It was worth it for the graphics, but a bit of a hassle if users are not expecting it or don’t have a large enough memory card. It is completely worth it for the graphics which are insanely crisp. The only problem is that they are on a small screen which causes some details to be lost. There is a limit to how far users can zoom in on the game, and so mistakes can be made. For example I accidentally placed my Sim’s fridge door up against the wall, making it impossible to open. Hopefully I can solve the problem before my Sim dies of hunger.