Well, I’ve already had to force myself through the uhh, thing that was the Sims 2 for the GBA. Surely the DS version had to be an improvement on that game? Surely.
So um, it seems you’re driving through the desert for some reason, and your car breaks down. Fortunately for you, you break down in a town which happens to have a handy mechanic. Whilst you’re mooching around waiting for your car to get fixed, you visit the local hotel. And through chance, you end up with the job of running said hotel.
Wait a moment, when since has the Sims been a hotel simulator?
The story after that point basically peters out, and you get into the swing of day-to-day hotel running, and various plot lines involving the different customers which stay at your hotel, along with improving your hotel.
The various plot threads are pretty awful, with none of them really adding much to the story of the game. Okay, a few of them are interesting (barely), such as the one where it’s heavily implied you’re burying a body for a member of the mafia, but these are fairly few and far between.
Some aspects of the music are okay – the background changes whenever the aliens appear is fitting and quite atmospheric, and the sound of the Sims speaking in Simlish is also okay. However, the rest of the music is extremely repetitive and doesn’t vary that much. Now, I know the handheld Sims games can do well on the music front, so why was this one such a let-down?
Well, for the most part, the graphics in this game are rendered in 3D models, which whilst nothing fancy, do the job well enough. There isn’t much pixilation in this game either, which makes for a nice change, as that was a problem previous handheld Sims games had.
The different themed rooms in the hotel look okay as well – it’s quite clear when you’re in each room what the theme is, and they’re quite bright and colourful.
However, the backgrounds are fairly drab, especially when you’re out in the town or the desert. Something which could’ve been improved upon.
Another area with the graphics which I take issue with is the character models. Yes, I know I said a moment ago the 3D models were okay, my problem is that when you go into conversation with the different characters, the models don’t switch for a close up version – partly this was to do with how this game bases conversation options more on you being able to read the body language than the actual conservation, but close-up models of the characters would have still been nice.
If there was an option for multiplayer in this game (for the card game perhaps?), then I never had the chance to actually experience it.
There was a challenge to this game? Apart from the hassle of trying to keep your mood bar up in the initial stages of the game, there wasn’t much of a challenge. One of the main difficulties that I had with this game was the fact that the individual needs were all compounded into one mood bar – there is no way of telling which needs were low. This has the effect of making mood management a bit tricky, as your Sim will just suddenly tell you that there’s a problem, with a speech bubble above its head notifying which need needs attending to.
However, a quick fix for a failing mood bar is to engage in a conversation with another Sim and have a successful conversation with them – this restores the motive bar back up to full, which then resolves the motive problem for some time. This felt like a cheap way to restore the motive bar to me, however. Not how I would play the Sims, but then again, the game made it near impossible to play the game any other way.
One of the areas where this game also suffers from is the change it made to gaining skills – rather than taking the time to build up skill points, this game now makes it so that you have to hunt around for skills points to collect them – this appear in arbitrary locations at arbitrary times, so it’s really pot luck if you get the skill points you need to progress, if at all. Oh and expect to have to do some warping with time, as some of the skill points appear at odd times like 3am in the morning.
Oh and don’t expect much out of the mini-games for making money. Once you’ve cracked how the card game works, expect to be playing a lot of it, and cursing how so much of it relies on luck of the draw with what cards you get. I prefer my card games to be based more on skill rather than luck, but being screwed out of money because the cards were weighted in favour of the AI is just irritating.
Well on the whole the controls work well for the game – a bit clunky, but okay. The D-pad was my preferred method of controlling the Sim walking around and etc., as I found the stylus to be fairly awkward, and the only real use I had for the stylus was for the card game and during conversation.
Now, why do people buy the Sims? To build awesome houses and fit them out with all manner of stuff, right? So why the heck did EA do away with that in this game, and introduce pre-set rooms which you could buy, and have a very limited selection of furniture and other goods which you could put in them? Customization is one of the reasons that I would buy a Sims game!
Ah, and that’s before I start on the fact that to build a new room for your hotel, you have to first find the money for it, not the easiest job in the world when the only decent game for making money, the card game, is a pain to play and gets extremely repetitive after a while, but you also have to wait eight real-time hours for a room to be finished. Yes, eight real hours. I swear, most of the time you’ll spend playing this game is to wait for the clock to count down. It felt an awful lot like a poor attempt by EA to try and extend the life of the game.
There is also a painting mini-game which you can play to try and raise some money, but I wouldn’t bother trying to extend any real effort into that game – it seems to randomly decide if a painting is a masterpiece or not, so that single bright pink line that took a second to do might be worth a fortune, whilst that copy of the Mona Lisa might be worth sod all. Ah well, it’s a nice distraction.
One of my favourite mini-games was the vacuum cleaning one, where you get your vacuum out to hoover up random muck on the floor, and whilst cleaning, you occasionally see things of value in the mess, which you then have to pick out and save, before they get sucked up. This can occasionally be lucrative, with stuff like rings and gold teeth popping up in the mess every now and then.
You can also mix music and create ring tones for your phone, but that got very boring very quickly.
The social aspect of this game was also seriously watered down; with conversations giving you three options to pick and choose from when in conversation, and you have to be able to read the body language of the other Sim in order to progress in the conversation. You get a bar which goes down when you choose the wrong option, and if this happens too much, you get kicked out from the conversation. This wouldn’t be too bad, except for the fact that if you fail in a conversation, your motive bar gets shot right down, and it can be a pain trying to get that back up to scratch.
Ah, something else which amused me was the interaction you can do with the cows in the game. You can milk the cows for milk, which can then be sold at the local bar, or you can tip the cows over. Once the cows have been tipped over, you can then milk them for a milkshake. I think that’s brilliant.
Now, as for stuff which didn’t work quite that well… one problem this game suffers from is that it was extremely glitchy – such as scrolling through your pockets can cause the game to freeze, or when the alien invasion happens, it will freeze.
Occasionally the game can become extremely pixilated, and the graphics break up, which can make stuff such as the card game difficult to play.
One of the major problems that this game has is how badly executed some of the later stuff in the game is. Near the end of the game you have to fight off an alien invasion… by dressing up as a rat. No, I don’t know either. The rat-suit mini-game is glitchy as hell as well, and the game will often freeze up whilst you’re playing it. Which is awkward when you consider doing this at least once is a requirement of the game.
Other areas of this game, such as the skill gaining system, as previously described, just feel clunky and are more of an aggravation than something which works smoothly.
I don’t think I’ve ever gone back to replay this game, except for when I had to, to write this review.
Replay Value: 1
Stick to the PC version of the Sims 2, or play something like Bustin’ Out or the Urbz. Stay away from this one, it’s awful.
Written by Karen