Friday, 26 August 2011

The Sims Social: Addictive Fun

Ever since the launch of the series in 2000, The Sims has amassed a substantial amount of games across a large variety of platforms. With an impressive worldwide fan base stretching far into the millions, it was only a matter of time before The Sims conquered the social networking market. This month, The Sims Social launched on Facebook. The game garnered a staggering 5 million players on it's launch day, so obviously Maxis are doing something right. So what is it that has made The Sims Social so popular in such a short space of time?

The answer to that above question is simple-the familiar game play. Being a Sims fan for the past eleven years, I was pleased to notice that The Sims Social thankfully keeps in a lot of the game play that can be experienced in the PC version, but of course, things have been adapted so that it fits in with the "social" aspect of Facebook
The Sim version of me fulfilling her bathroom needs.
The game sees you in charge of one character, instead of the choice of controlling a family of Sims. Like the previous games, the ability to fulfill your Sims basic needs is included here, which sees you insuring that your Sim has gone to the toilet, eaten, had an desired amount of fun, and more. If you don't keep on top of these, your Sim becomes thoroughly unhappy, and it becomes harder for them to complete set tasks until you've made them happy again. 

A large element of the game is the social side of it. Players can invite their friends to play the game, then visit their friends virtual Sim house to interact with their character. Thankfully, the interactions are not simply visiting a house to water the neighbours plants, tidy or repair things like in CityVille and FarmVille. In this game, your Sims actually get to develop their relationships by chatting, joking, flirting, complimenting and many, many more. In fact, there are so many possibilities of interaction that this proves to be one of the most fun aspects of the entire game. 
Sim love: Two neighbours dancing together.
One nice touch is that your Sim and Facebook friends sims relationships will actually develop. I'm currently in the process of getting my FiancĂ© and myself's relationship status up to the highest level in the game (sad, but true). Choose to become mortal enemies, or the best of friends or lovers. The choice is entirely in you, and your friends, hands. Be warned though-your Facebook friend will have to approve a change in relationship between their sim and yours. This is a great addition which actually makes you consider the consequences of accepting a particular relationship status. 

One of the most enjoyable aspects of The Sims Social for me is the customisation. Like the previous games, this Facebook addition allows you to build your own house and furnish it from the shop section. The bigger and more furnished your house is, the more your house value will increase. Increasing in house value helps to unlock items and challenges, so it's worth aspiring towards!
An example of one of the challenges on offer.
To give some sort of focus to the game, challenges have been added. These challenges require you to do certain tasks in the game in order to complete it, collect xp and rewards, and thus level up. This part of the game play actually gets pretty addictive, especially when you realise you are just that little bit closer to levelling up. 

There is one aspect of the game however that, unfortunately, I find quite frustrating. This is the collecting of items to complete tasks, unlock new writing, art or cooking skills, or to build a piece of furnishing for your house. Whilst the majority of these can be collected via completing certain tasks (many can be unlocked whilst working towards skill points), or completing challenges. However, the downside is that many can only be rewarded by asking friends to send them to you. Thankfully many of my friends are on The Sims Social, so I can get most of my requests sent to me. However, this is a disheartening aspect of the game when a player does not have many friends who are willing to play it. 
The store: the hub for customisation.
Also, some items can only be collected if you post a message from the game on your Facebook wall. After a while of having to do this, you'll notice that your wall is littered with game messages. Being someone who has a huge number of friends posting things like this from CityVille, it's difficult to actually read your news feed without being confronted by one of these. In all honesty, it's just like spamming, and kind of pollutes the whole Facebook experience. I just wish the game avoided the "posting to wall" aspect, and instead focused on earning them through the game. Not everybody wants to read your desperate plea for a few extra simoleons! 

Overall, The Sims Social is a welcome addition to the already huge Sims franchise. The changes made to the familiar game play are both welcoming and refreshing here. The social side of this new game play allows players to share their sim experience with their Facebook friends in a number of ways. The inclusion of challenges which the player can complete along the way gives the game a certain element of focus, so those who are growing tired of the free-roaming element that The Sims is well known for has something to actually aim for.  

A few bugs are yet to be ironed out, such as the inability to accept requests at times, challenges not completing and so on, but it's early days and I'm sure the game will be improved on significantly. The Sims Social is definitely the best game I have played on Facebook, and I do not doubt on it remaining that way for a long time to come yet. I look forward to seeing how this game progresses! 
Screenshots compiled by myself from my own gaming experience. 

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