A superior game, one of the very best in its category.
The SIMS FreePlay Review
- Charming visuals
- Nearly limitless customization
- Tons of stuff to unlock
- It's a real memory hog
- Not as many options as a regular Sims game
- Sluggish pace
The SIMS FreePlay Review
A Little Something for Sim Fans
Ever since its inception in 2000, The Sims has been one of the most lucrative titles in the industry. With numerous sequels, even more spin-offs, and ports for nearly every gaming platform, it was only natural that it would eventually find itself entering the free-to-play mobile market. Coming off the heels of the then recently-released Sims 3, The Sims FreePlay did just that, and it's safe to say that it mostly succeeded in delivering what people love about the franchise. It oozes The Sims' potential for creativity, intricate interaction between its virtual characters, and generally quirky nature. You just have to be prepared to deal with the usual foibles that go hand in hand with the freemium model.
It Looks Like The Sims
The Sims has never boasted the best graphics out there, but it still carried a distinct visual style that was nonetheless very charming. The way the characters spoke in gibberish and expressed themselves in the most hilariously exaggerated ways possible made it impossible to not love them. Thankfully, even the small screens of the tablet and smartphone have done nothing to detract from that. The Sims FreePlay has colorful and three-dimensional visuals that strongly resemble the graphics of the PC games, complete with their expressive characters and freakish variety of environments. This doesn't feel like a cheap Sims knockoff; it's a genuine addition to the franchise.
Unfortunately, the graphical fidelity comes at a price. Not a monetary one, but in terms of memory. The app takes up over a gigabyte of space, which is very large as far as mobile games go. If space on your hard drive is a concern, then you might have to do a little spring cleaning. Older systems are also be in possible danger of suffering lag, so be sure to keep that in mind.
So Many Options...But Not Always Enough
The Sims FreePlay continues the series' tradition of opening the floodgates up to an unprecedented level of personalization. The tools to make a unique-looking Sim and house are all there, and they're just as simple and intuitive as they've always been. There's a metric ton of clothing options available to your Sims right from the start in so many styles, fashions and colors. You can put one girl in an elegant dress to make her look like she's ready for a hot date, and put another in sweat pants so she looks like she's about to hit the gym. Both can and will look like completely different people.
Putting a house together is an especially fun affair as well. You can design the floor plan of each house, put in or knock down walls, and even add extensions to the whole building with a few intuitive screen touches. Once you get to the process of furnishing and decorating it, you might just faint from the choices. Some items are there to serve a purpose; every Sim needs a bed, toilet, bathing area and wardrobe after all. Others things, like TVs, sofas and radios, make life worth living for them. Even more things are just there to spruce the home up, like flowers, trees, statues, wallpapers, clocks, counters and so on. There are simply too many objects to list.
Sadly, this is also one area where the platform's limitations show through. While the app is not lacking in ways to customize the look and feel of your people and houses, it just can't compete with what the original games offer. For one thing, there are no sliders to adjust the characters' appearances. There's only one body type to correspond with gender and age, and you pick your face from a dozen or so in selection. There's no way to fine-tune your Sims' faces, and if you want to make people that are fat, stocky, athletic, portly, buff or whatever, you're out of luck.
The same can be said of the clothing and home options. While there are lots of things available to give each Sim and house a unique style, it still just can't hold a candle to what the PC version is capable of. The reasons why are perfectly understandable; it's a mobile game after all. The technology just doesn't have the raw power or flexibility of a PC. It's still something you need to keep in mind if you want to fully enjoy The Sims FreePlay.
Slow and Steady, But Still Slow
Creativity is a big part of The Sims' charm, but it's also a process that's built over time, provided you don't use any cheats of course. That applies to FreePlay as well. As much as you might want your little people to own the best stuff, you got to help them work for it. Your Sims need to earn money by working, they have to stay happy by making friends and doing things they enjoy, and they must stay healthy by eating, sleeping and washing up regularly. It's very much like a nuanced and open-ended virtual pet game that lets you raise multiple intermingling pets at the same time. After you get through the admittedly restrictive tutorial, the rest of the app proceeds like any Sims free play game has in the past.
However, The Sims FreePlay differs from the other games in a number of ways. For one thing, they have absolutely no autonomy here. In previous games, each Sim had a pre-programmed personality that would determine how he or she would act when left alone. One guy might not clean up after himself, but you could always trust him to at least rummage around in the kitchen whenever he got hungry. That's not the case here; your Sims can't do anything without your input. They'll starve if you're not there to guide them to a fridge five feet away.
When you finally do give a Sim a task, it will take much longer than before as well. Everything in FreePlay occurs in real time regardless of whether the app is open or not. In previous games, doing anything like eating, showering or working happened over a course of minutes at most. In FreePlay, all those activities correspond to how long they would take in real life. A shower could last for 10 minutes, while a work shift could take hours. This makes the pace of FreePlay feel artificially slow. This is especially not helped by the fact that you have to level up in order to gain access to the better goodies, whereas you could simply save up your Simoleons in the past. Having multiple Sims to tend to can help give you something to do at all times, but overall, this is a game that's best played in short bursts.
Verdict: Worth Living For
The Sims FreePlay may not be a perfect substitute for a PC Sims game due to the comparative lack of options and annoyingly slow pace. However, it's still a superb mobile game on its own merits. You won't lose a whole lot of hours on it, but it can still feel like an accomplishment to watch one small household gradually grow into a whole virtual community. If that sounds good enough for you, then it's more than worth a shot.
- Review by David Galvin
Dave Galvin is a freelance writer and avid gamer. Somehow, he managed to find a way to combine the two passions.
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