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Published by:
Maxis, Inc.

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Pentium 233, 32 Megs RAM, 300 Megs HD,
16-bit Sound Board, Mouse, and DirectX 7

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Sound FX



The Sims

Game Review - by James Allen
Will Wright, the man responsible for all those SimCity games, brings you The Sims: the next entry for Maxis in the Sim line. In The Sims, you control people. From bathing to relaxing to socializing, you are responsible for the well being (or destruction) of your family. Although your Sims will behave somewhat on their own, you will need to intervene to make sure they don't eat too much, dirty the floor, or forget to use the bathroom.

Features: The Sims provides you with control over one household at a time, all of which populate one neighborhood. There is only one neighborhood, so you can choose to control this family for a while, then switch over to that swinging bachelor down the road. Since you are controlling just one family, the others go about their business without your intervention. You will need to introduce new members into your community, so that existing residents can interact with them. After buying a house for a prospective friend, you can always switch back to your favorite Sim. There is also a tutorial house in your neighborhood (like a show house of sorts) where you can practice your skills, and discover why the house burnt down. In addition, The Sims allows you to import (almost) anything into the game: houses, wallpapers, families. You can even make your friends! And then let them die! Ha ha ha!

Graphics: The graphics are well presented. In addition to the very detailed Sims, the houses can be designed in many different colors and textures, especially when a fire breaks out. When two Sims are having a conversation, you can follow what they are talking about in thought balloons, much akin to those found in comic strips. The graphics are everything you would expect from a Maxis game, and help to enhance the gaming experience.

Sound FX:
The sounds are also good, especially those made by the Sims themselves. Although their actual speech is gibberish (Simese?), the tones in the voices tell you EXACTLY how they feel. Some sounds, though, are universal: Sims laugh when they hear a joke, cry when they are lonely, and sometime cut themselves while cooking (ouch!). When the television is on, you can hear the action on the screen, and the Sims reaction to it (does Bob like romance?). The sound for the Action Channel is the theme from Streets of SimCity (clever Maxis people!). One very cool feature is the implementation of MP3s into The Sims. When a radio is on, you can hear the music: maybe you don't like classical. Copy some of your ska MP3s into the appropriate directory, and you can have your Sims listen to your MP3 files. Very cool.

Here is where The Sims shines. To start the game, you can choose from a pre-designed family, or make your own. Then, move your family into a house. Don't like any of the available options? Go to Build Mode and make your own! That's right, you can make the house of your dreams (or worst nightmare) pretty easily. The possibilities are pretty endless, although you can only have two stories, and are restricted by your lot size. Still, you can customize your house any way you want.

After your house is built, you better enter Buy Mode, and furnish the house to make it livable. Many different kinds of objects are available to insert into your house, and usually three or four of each, from cheap to expensive. Microwaves, alarm clocks (make sure you get up for work), weight machines, chessboards, recliners, and much, much more.

Now, your house is ready for occupants. Your Sims will begin to live their lives, based mostly on their personality traits you gave them. If they are messy, they'll leave dirty plates on the floor (eww). If they are mean, don't expect many calls from friends. Another function of personality is the mood they are in, and this is determined by their needs. Needs are broken down into eight categories, and each has a way to provide for it. Hungry? Eat. Uncomfortable? Sit down. Tired? Sleep. These activities are possible by selecting an object, and choosing what to do with it: sit or nap on the couch? If you do not provide for their needs, your Sims could very well die. Remember that Simpsons when Grandpa's bladder exploded? Well, your Sims probably won't go that far, but they will certainly wet themselves, and get totally embarrassed in the process. Since the mood of your Sim is a direct relation to their needs, it is very important that they are feeling good when they go to work.

Jobs are important, since this is the only way to bring in money. Jobs can be found in the newspaper or online (yes, online). Your Sims receive promotions if they are always in a good mood when they leave for work, and if they improve their skills. There are six skills that your Sims can improve, and each job has a different combination of these to earn a promotion. Body is very important in the military, but you need not paint your grenades, so creativity is not of prime interest. The game helps you decide which skills to improve, so you don't waste too much time. The only problem that I've found in The Sims is the absence of weekends. Your Sims work every day, and this leaves little time for social interaction with neighbors. The weekend is usually the time to party, and the lack of a Friday night makes it hard to boost the social need.

Relationships with other Sims are very important, as they increase the overall happiness of the Sim. Make sure you call up (yes, call up) your friends every once in a while, not just for yourself, but also to maintain the relationship. If you don't talk with another Sim for a while, you can expect the relationship to go south, and then they won't come over when you want. In having a conversation with another Sim, you can monitor how it's going. A conversation will benefit both Sims if they talk about topics they both are interested in. You can also use the phone for services, as in calling a maid service or the police. By the way, if you don't pay your maid, they take something in return: I lost a garbage can.

If everything goes well, you may just get married. If so, your new spouse moves in with you, and now you control two people (double the fun!). If you decide, you can have kids (MORE people). If you don't like your wife/husband after all, cheat on them. It's like a Springer episode, except you can fight on air.

Overall: The Sims is really, really cool. If you want a game where you can spend endless hours of your life dictating someone else's, this is a smart choice. This will probably be one of the best games of the year. I totally recommend playing the Sims, but remember: get off the computer every once in a while, or YOUR relationships will suffer.

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