The Sims Pet Stories


By: Jess Nickelsen    On: PC
Published: Tuesday 14 Aug 2007 10:00 AM
 
 
 
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Imagine for a moment: let’s say you’re responsible for creating and producing one of the most popular games on the planet. People in the know swear up and down that you are the gaming equivalent of the second coming of Christ. You’ve been going strong for the last ten years or so, but you want to make sure you’re keeping the game fresh, interesting, and habit-forming for current gamers, and while you’re at it, grab that small part of the population out there that you haven’t yet managed to bewitch. What do you do?

What, indeed? You’d do what anyone would probably do in your situation: try to mix it up a little, make the odd change here or there that might appeal to different types of players, maybe even try to port your game to different platforms. Oh, and release heaps and heaps of expansion packs.

That’s exactly what Maxis (and everyone’s buddy, Will Wright) has been up to. It’d be outrageous for us to expect perfection in every instance (case in point: see my earlier review of Sims Pets for the DS), but you’ve got to admire them for trying. So it goes with the latest incarnation of Sims wares: the Life Stories series, ‘specially slanted at those who are new to the game. It’s hard to believe that there are still people out there who haven’t played the Sims yet, but yea, verily it is so.

My first impression of the game was to marvel at the quick loading times. Before the game even started I was already thinking “hm, maybe this Sims lite isn’t so bad after all.” Indeed, at a glance, it was difficult to really see what the difference was between what I was playing, and my somewhat bloated conglomeration of Sims 2 plus expansions that is threatening to take over my hard drive. Slowly, though, the differences creep up on you.

The main difference is that there’s actually a storyline! Initially you’ll probably find yourself wondering what’s going on as dialogue box after dialogue box pops up as your main Sims character presumes to tell you what to do! Things such as “I think I’ll get dressed now”, or “there’s Jane at the door, I’d better answer it.” It’s an odd shift for those who are so used to being in control, and developing storylines in their head. At first I thought it was a strange sort of tutorial for those who had never played the game before, but nope, the instructions just kept on coming, all the way through the twelve chapters of the story.

Other changes include: windowed mode is the standard, which is meant to be more user friendly for those who like to IM and check our email while they play; hotkeys for your sim’s needs – as an example, pressing the hotkey that corresponds to how tired your sim is will automatically select the “sleep” option on the bed; inclusion of wants, the same as in the original Sims 2 game, although fears have been left out. And while this game is called “Sims PET Stories” there are inclusions in the game from other expansion packs, such as the ability to ask another sim out on a date, and head to a club for some karaoke or dancing.

The storyline is broken up into different chapters, each of which has a specific goal. At the end of each you are rewarded with a new object. Once you’ve worked your way through each of the two different stories, you are then able to explore the different neighbourhoods in sandbox mode.

While I was surprised to find myself amused by most of the changes included in this game, I can’t really see myself (or other players) wanting to go through either of the two “stories” again once they’d been completed. Replay doesn’t offer anything extra in terms of unlockables, or different achievements to go for. They are also able to be played through rather quickly – three or so hours for each one, if you are already familiar with the gameplay and layout. So once you’ve finished with the stories, you’re left with a cut-down version of The Sims, which is a little strange considering the game is called Sims Pet STORIES; I would have expected the focus to dwell a little longer on this aspect of the game.

That oddness aside, I’m still impressed with how much game (including content from the expansion packs, as well as new content) Maxis has managed to cram into one DVD. This game is absolutely perfect for players who want to take their Sims gaming with them when they’re travelling, or those who would like to play the game but don’t have the most amazing specs on their computer. It’s also great for players new to The Sims who want to have a look and see what it’s all about, without forking over major cash to set themselves up with all the expansion packs.

Current fanatics who already have all the packs probably won’t get great value from the $60 price tag attached to this game. It is, however, perfect for those laptop wielding noobs out there (bless you one and all).


The Score

The Sims Pet Stories
"Maxis does their best to pack it all in."
6.5
Average
Rating: PG   Difficulty: Easy   Learning Curve: 5 Min

 

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