Date: September 2, 2011
Ah, Facebook games. Another one of my favourite gaming franchises have released a Facebook game. This time EA Games, the owner of The Sims has released The Sims Social. Once more my ability to detach myself from my petty dislike of Facebook games is put to the test as I try to review another Facebook game.
For anyone of you who didn’t catch my earlier rant on why I dislike Facebook games, you can find it in my articles under the Dragon Age: Legends review.
OK, here we go.
For those of you not familiar with The Sims, The Sims is a life simulator. You create one or more people or Sims, and control them. Nearly everything those Sims do is under your control. You can control where they work, who they have a relationship with, when they go to the toilet. You can even build their houses and decorate them exactly how you want. The Sims is one of the most expansive micro-management life simulators out there. It’s also a whole carpet-bag full of fun as well.
But what does The Sims Social do? Well to be honest, it doesn’t differ from any other Facebook game. There’s a formula and The Sims Social sticks very close to it.
First step, as with a lot of games is to create your character. The options are relatively simplistic, but you have several options for skin colour, hair style, and you can dress them up in many ways. Finally give your Sim a character type and then you can jump right into the game.
Now, where Sims 3 is a fully 3D zooming, scrolling, and spinning world, The Sims Social is 2D, but it’s scope is low enough for this to be of no consequence at all. The animated visuals play to this more cartoon approach.
To play the game, you click on an item and then choose from one of the options on the radial menu, such as clicking on a flowerbed gives you the option of ‘Water plants’ and ‘Pee on plants’. Yep, there’s still room for cheap toilet humour and public urination in Sims Social. Your Sim has 6 bars that need to be fulfilled, as in The Sims, these bars represent their needs, such as eating and going to the toilet. Providing you keep those needs in the green you’re free to do what ever you want.
NPC Sims will also ask you to perform certain tasks for them. These tasks initially function as a tutorial, taking through the basics of the game. They also give you a gaming purpose, but it’s not a compelling enough reason for me to log on avidly every hour.
In it’s most simple terms, that’s the game. However, as with all Facebook games there are two things that will hold you back and stop you playing; energy and needing other people to help.
You get 15 energy points, and every action that doesn’t directly fulfill a need, costs you an energy point. So using the toilet would be free, but practicing on the guitar or watering plants would cost you 1 energy. 15 points doesn’t last long either, so in most cases you can play for about 5-10 minutes before having to take a break. Oh don’t worry though, energy does recharge. You get one point of energy back every 3-4 minutes, and sometimes actions will drop extra energy icons to pick up. Though ultimately, don’t expect to be sat down for a long gaming experience.
Then there’s the friends thing. You need to rope people in to play it. One of my earlier missions was to build a new room, but that takes three different people to agree to building it. Luckily, when I started two of my friends were already playing, so I roped them into helping, but I’m stuck now needing the 3rd person. I sent out a request asking for help despite my better judgement, but no bites. So not wanting to pester anyone further, my room is just there waiting for that last 3rd person to agree, before it can be built. It’s not just that request either, lots of the things I have been asked to do rely on getting things from a number of people.
But how does it all stack up?
Well, even for an anti-Facebook-gamer like myself. It does have charm. I assume that this stems from my fondness of the Sims franchise, rather than this game in particular. Basically, The Sims Social feels just like a new skin wrapped around a standard game. It feels almost identical in feel to the ‘Zombie Lane’ game, for example.
I’m sure if you have several friends who play it and you can all annoy each other with the status updates and requests it might be very engaging and addictive, but with few or no friends playing it, it’s quite a joyless and pointless experience. I realise I may have just described every Facebook game ever designed there, but I expected more from EA. They have the gaming know-how to have at least tried to do something different.
The graphics are nicely animated and the sound is alright. Very little more to say on those, neither of them are gonna rock your world but they work for the purpose of this.
It’s free so give it a shot, and if you’re really into Facebook games and The Sims then The Sims Social might just be your cup of tea, but personally I can think of better ways to spend my time.
You can find it here…
- The Sims Social officially launches on Facebook (digitaltrends.com)