On Poetry, Prose, and Videogames

JLawrence Kenny

Worst Video Game Series: The Sims

on December 16, 2011

Let’s face it, for every good videogame you’ve played in your life, you can probably recall a dozen that you’ve played that simply weren’t up to par. Every aspect of life has its duds, and video games are no exceptions, whether it’s the result of poor controls, bad writing, or just a really crappy independent company that has no business making video games in the first place. We can all recall plenty of games that are just horrible, but which game SERIES is the worst? In my opinion, it’s got to be The Sims. I know this will probably seem like a strange choice to many readers, due to its popularity, when there are so many other games out there that are universally hated. And I’ll admit, there are a few things that The Sims does well which can make it “fun” to play. But if we’re talking about it in terms of series, The Sims comes out on top because of the fact that more universally hated games are usually a single game without a series because they were so bad that the developers dropped it immediately, or because they are a lone dud within the midst of a successful and well-done franchise. For me, The Sims matches neither of these criteria, so let’s jump right into the fray.

The only fun you will have in a serious playthrough.

My dislike for The Sims series can all stem from one very simple root: the fact that it’s as boring as hell. Whereas other titles like SimCity or RollerCoaster Tycoon with a similar playstyle focused on doing things the player would never do in their lives, like design an amusement park or run an entire city, The Sims is just managing the life of a family… And that’s pretty much it. You create a character or characters and control their day-to-day lives. The “objective,” if you could call it that, is to be as successful as you can possibly be, by taking care of their needs, like hunger and hygiene, leveling up their skills, and then sending them off to work in the hopes that you get a promotion if your stats and mood are high enough. You foster relationships with your neighbours, who show up pretty much at random, and can even end up marrying someone if your relationship grows enough. And all by just pointing and clicking! While this premise is interesting enough at first, as a sort of fantasy life for the reclusive gamer, when you really think about it, what are you doing? You’re doing in a game what you should be doing in real life. In other words, to have one. Nothing interesting ever happens, you just make your character watch TV, read a book, take a shower, and go to work, just like you yourself would or should. It’s not even clever enough to be meta-gaming; it’s just boring.

It even LOOKS ridiculous.

There are also a lot of little things that bug me, such as the sounds of the game. There’s no soundtrack to speak of, except for the title screen and during character creation, and therefore the game only sounds are ambient noises, sound effects, and possibly the most annoying language ever created, called Simlish. It’s literally nothing but jibberish, a bunch of meaningless sounds thrown together in no particular order. While I can respect the design choice behind it, as it leaves the characters’ conversations up to the minds of the player rather than what would undoubtedly be endlessly repetitive greetings and such, it’s just so grating and annoying, that I will usually just mute my TV, which never detracts from the experience at all. That’s a bad sign in and of itself, as sound is one of the biggest factors in how a person understands things, even more so than sight. Simultaneously a blessing and a curse is the fact that time in The Sims is condensed, with an hour in the game being equal to around a minute in real time. On the bright side, this means the player can progress through the game at a much faster pace. On the downside, however, this time inconsistency leads to a lot of tasks taking MUCH, MUCH longer than they realistically would, such as a character taking a half an hour to use the bathroom in game time, or an hour of game time to make  a bowl of macaroni. This significantly decreases the actual time available in the game to be able to do anything useful, like increase the skills you need to advance in your job, or even sleep. The design is overly simplified too, as if the creators wanted to make the game as boring as possible, but it’s hard to really explain about that without going into specifics.

And, for some unholy reason, ghosts can have children. DAFUQ?

As the game series progressed, both through the main series and through spin-offs, very little changed at all. Most of the games in the series are basically just palette swaps, offering the exact same gaming experience, only in a different location, a poor excuse to squeeze more money out of the consumer. Between Sims and Sims 2, you were finally able to actually move throughout your entire neighborhood, rather than being trapped within the confines of your house. More features were added, such as goals and life goals, things that your character desired to do, though they don’t seem to have much effect on gameplay if you ignore them. Sims also gain one of the most annoying traits possible; the ability to die. Normally, this wouldn’t be such a big deal, except that the average lifespan of a Sim is so short, that it makes it impossible to make any lasting impression in the game. Even if you manage your time perfectly, you’ll wind up not doing something, whether it’s getting married, having a kid, achieving your lifetime aspiration, or that big promotion. It’s a huge downer to be days away from reaching Rock Star status, and then *poof* your character becomes an old man and has to retire. And then you have to start from scratch with your kid, who will probably have crappy traits because you forgot to pick him up once as a child. The game is fickle to a fault when it comes to aging, though in free-play mode, I do believe there is a “stop aging” option, but then you’re basically cheating the rules of the game, in which case, why play it anyway.

Put that fire extinguisher down and DIE!!!

There are a few things that make the game fun to play, like building houses and hooking up with other people just for the immature giggle at when they have sex, but overall the game just suffers from a lack of interesting things to do. It’s annoying because it’s boring, and it’s boring because you’re annoyed, and all the pointing and clicking can’t fix it, no matter how hard you try. I just recommend you throw these games in the trash and pick up something less frustrating. In the end, the only fun thing left to do is trap people in a house and watch them burn to death anyway.


3 responses to “Worst Video Game Series: The Sims

  1. eyeLaugh says:

    oh HEECCKKK no

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