Tag Archives: Sims

The Sims Social and simulating social spamming

As I’m wont to do, I’ve drifted away from many of the silly Facebook games I was into months ago, such as CityVille and Pet Society and even–gasp!Chocobo’s Crystal Tower. In my mind, you can only click on things for so long, and I’ve never been into the social elements of social gaming, always feeling like I’m pestering my friends or spamming their newsfeeds. Which is odd then because I played a little bit of The Sims Social last night…and actually liked it. Guess others like it too since there’s over 10,000,000 monthly active players at the moment; Leigh Alexander probably not included in that count.

I’ve always enjoyed the gameplay of The Sims, taking the mundane tasks of daily life and turning them into something a wee bit more rewarding. Having a job, peeing, calling friends over for some TV and pizza…it’s all fun, and generally one wouldn’t think so. I mean, the social elements in games like Grand Theft Auto IV drove me absolutely batty, but that’s because the developers were trying to juggle too much at once. Here, it works…up until you accidentally set your Sim on fire or lose on your money in a bad spout of furniture purchasing. Which happens a lot for me. That’s been the biggest stresser and deterrent for me for The Sims franchise, the fact that you can work so hard making your house rock, your job awesome, and your circle of friends top-notch, and then can lose it all in a small kitchen fire.

Well, with The Sims Social, that fear is gone…seemingly. From what I can tell, your Sim can’t die. It can get unhappy and down and low on key meters like social, fun, and hygiene, but that’s okay. Just click around and visit some neighbors, and you’re back to sparkling goodness. And all the other elements of the The Sims is there, such as multiple tasks, traits, house construction, customization, and whatnot. Granted, everything is limited by a select amount of energy points used for actions, but it’s not too big of a hassle all in all. So far, spamming has been slight, and I’ve added my wife as a neighbor, but nobody else in my Facebook universe seems to be playing. No big deal. Like I said before, I’m not here for the social part of the browser-based game’s title. I’m here to click around and wear digital version of clothes I am wearing now and try to reconstruct my house into places I’ve actually lived in before, and I probably will for a little bit and then lose interest. Don’t be sad, Facebook. That’s just the way these things go. Here, have 1,000 simoleons!

In-game relationships need to get out

Unless I’m playing The Sims, I don’t really want to do buddy-buddy things like playing darts and going for a walk and having a beer with someone in-game. Especially when we’re talking about Grand Theft Auto IV, where the majority of the focus is on…well, shooting drug dealers in the mouth and running over hot dog stands. Nor do I want to go on dates, but that mostly has to do with Niko Bellic not being the suave gentlemen your dates might think he is. Seriously, how can anyone be charmed by this masochistic, hollow shell of a goon? His response to every demonic task put on him is: how much will I get paid? Right.

I wish there was a way you could lose your cell phone in GTA IV and then have to go to a local Sprint store (I bet those Rockstar devs would be hilarious and call it, I dunno, Splint) to get a new one. After losing it, I would never get another. I don’t even care if that meant no more missions; I just want to walk and drive around in peace, listen to the radio, take in the sights. No, I don’t want to get shit-faced with you, Roman; you’re a horrible human being, possibly less horrible when drunk, but horrible nonetheless, and to have some drinky drinks with you would take up the following:

1. Time
2. Money

Plus, these in-game friends always call at the worst time ever. Like, you’re sneaking around a building, getting ready for a shootout, and then you have Little Jacob mumbling something about hanging out in your ear. Sorry, can’t. Why didn’t you call me during the 15 minutes it took me to get to this location? Chump.

Another example of bad cell phone usage in videogames: Pokemon HeartGold. During your course across the many regions, you will meet a bunch of trainers and strangers all eager to give you their phone number. In return, you must offer them yours–and your very soul. Seriously, if I could turn back time, I’d give my phone number to NO ONE. Not even my mother, that money-tossing fiend. Stand still for a minute or so, and ring ring ring, it’s Joey to tell you all about his RATTATA. Great. Just about every phone call I’ve gotten has been pointless; there’s no reward, no missions, just a bunch of BS and wasted time tapping through. I’m guessing this is the game’s way of making you feel connected to more than just pocket monsters, but it is an empty mechanic, beyond annoying, and a waste of precious time.

Dragon Age: Origins handles in-game relationships better…but not great. For one, thanks to Ferelden’s serious lack of technogadgetry, the Grey Warden does not have a cell phone. Instead, he/she has a mouth and two ears, and using them they can affect how other characters feel. Some might grow to hate the Grey Warden, others will fall in love, and a couple will remain indifferent no matter what you do. You can give gifts and listen to their stories to maybe pick up an important sidequest. Also, depending on who you are traveling with, certain key events will lead them to voicing their opinions, and it’s up to the Grey Warden to decide how to react. At least there’s rewards here: useful skills are unlocked as companions grow in friendship.

So unless in-game relationships do more than just annoy and waste time, they need to get out…and get out fast.

JUST BEAT: MySims Agents

Developer/Publisher: EA Redwood Shores/Electronic Arts
Platform: Nintendo DS [reviewed], Nintendo Wii
Genre(s): Mystery Adventure Game
Mode(s): Single player
Rating: E
Time clocked: The main storyline took less than 6 hours to complete, but game continues afterwards

Ultimately, this is a shame. Now, that’s not the best way to start a review, but it’s the truth. This game will let you down no matter what your expectations are, and considering I could only find one or two DS-only reviews online…well, I had zero expectations. The only thing I knew going into MySims Agents was that the Wii version was pretty good, that it involved solving mysteries and questioning townspeople and so on, as well as incorporating the standard Sims-like customization gameplay. Sounded like a great mix of things.

That is not the case here. Pun intended.

In MySims Agents, you play an agent visiting a town, there to unravel the mystery of its secret treasure. I named my town Megaton, but alas, the secret treasure was not an A bomb that I got to detonate and rid the world of these gibberish-speaking buffoons. Plot-wise, this is not a direct port of the Wii game. In the Wii version, you must stop Morcubus and his corrupt company MorcuCorp from stealing the Crown of Nightmares. In the DS version, you must stop Thief V from stealing the secret treasure. Seriously, it is written as secret treasure until the very end of the game when you discover what it actually is. SPOILER ALERT: it’s lame and insensible and…a giant bell. I’m not even kidding. Just goes to show the different level of care and love between the two iterations.

Gameplay involves receiving a mission from HQ, talking to townspeople, playing a minigame, waiting, waiting, waiting, solving a riddle, and then doing it all over again. In between all of this is the collecting of house blueprints, essences from in-game items, furniture, and fish, as well as redecorating your room and town. Repetitive, but the fun is left up to you, as I challenged myself to collect all things Japanese, which made it a little more exciting when dealing with the synthesizer and such.

The mini-games…they are uninspired. Granted, I still need to unlock three or four, but the ones I’ve played so far are either frustratingly challenging or just a rip-off of something else (hi, Diner Dash!). Kite surfing is extremely unforgiving (two hits and you basically have to restart), identifying the suspect is pretty fun but grows stale, and the one where you unearth mines in the ground has some wonky control issues. None of them stand out, really, but I am interested in seeing how the gem-themed one featured on the back of the box turns out.

Graphically, MySims Agents is pretty good, full of colors, all of them bright and playful. I particularly liked seeing my town during sunset with a wash of reds and oranges. That said, some of the furniture/clothing is just the same item with a different skin.

The biggest problem MySims Agents has going for it is that it’s a lie. You do no real detective work or anything close to what I imagine a secret agent might do, and truth be told after I changed my character into more casual clothes (instead of a suit) I completely forgot who he was supposed to be all along. It’s the bare bones of a good game, and could have been so much more. I understand that it is targeted at a younger demographic, but when the credits started to roll after 6 hours I thought someone from EA was going to jump out of my closet and yell, “Gotcha!”

The little coverage found for MySims Agents DS should have been my first clue that this game was a bit of a failure. It is tedious through and through, and I only hope this here review will help others steer clear.

4 out of 10