The Sims FreePlay (WP) Reviews

AuthorReview
Izzy of Albion
585,548 (272,561)
Izzy of Albion
TA Score for this game: 668
Posted on 15 September 13 at 22:52, Edited on 21 September 13 at 08:15
This review has 20 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
I'll admit, it has been a while since I played a Sims game. More than ten years in fact. I've never really had an interest in casual time wasters of this ilk anyway, and as someone old enough to remember well the Tamagotchi craze of the 90s, this particular brand of real-time, persistent-world, life simulation has always struck me as something more likely to invoke worry than enjoyment; every hour of fun being cancelled out by the guilt trip of neglecting the life I have created when left unchecked for a day or two. I'm a delicate soul. Positive reviews and an absent price tag however, talked me round eventually, and I'm so glad they did.

For Sims veterans, the game will look, sound and feel instantly familiar. It has very nice, detailed, 3D graphics, optimised for Windows Phone 8 (this game is WP8 only), that familiar, pleasantly Elfmanesque score and of course, Simlish babble, and while there are a lot of HUD elements on screen, the interface is both intuitive and unobtrusive. The town map, (which I suspect is rather smaller than its desktop counterparts, but more than adequate for this platform) can be pleasingly navigated, zoomed and rotated with equally intuitive swipes and pinches.

For a novice like me, I was happy to find that the game leads the player through all the concepts and possibilities of the game, (every event both big and small of a sim's life in fact) through a series of "goals". Completing these goals also provides a trickle of Simoleons (the primary currency) and Life Points (the secondary currency which can also be used to fast-track lengthy tasks such as erecting buildings and planting crops).

Whilst following these goals alone will basically walk you through the game, you'll no doubt want to beat your own path to some degree, by furnishing your houses with the some of the many and varied additions available, and building some of the attractions on the town map. After all, that is where the fun is in a creative game like this. This is where however, depending on your nature, the game will either get very time-consuming or very expensive. The higher end furnishings for example are outrageously pricey, and while new houses and businesses such as the pet store start at a very reasonable price, they rise exponentially as more Sims populate your town. It is at this point that even the most patient gamer will enquire as to the price of the "currency packs", (one of the game's micro-transactions), something that will no doubt inspire a sharp intake of breath: The cheapest pack is £3.49 / $4.99, and gives you just a few thousand Simoleons (it seems to increase as you level up). By the time you have a small community of six Sims, it's only a fraction of the price of the cheapest house; an unfurnished studio flat. In fact there are many items of furniture that cost more than that alone.

But fear not. It is better anyway; more satisfying, and more fun, to play the game as it was intended. Build workplaces, get your Sims jobs and send them to work every morning. They'll get promoted quickly and soon be earning good money. In their time off, have them planting and harvesting crops. Have Sims move in with each other to negate the need to build a new home for each Sim you add. Think out a strategy for your major purchases such as businesses and other amenities to optimise your income, and be diligent in collecting revenue from the various sources around the map that you will create along the way. All these things combined should see you comfortably enjoying the game to it's fullest without worrying your wallet for a dime.

If there is a criticism of this game, it is only that which seems to affect many of the best WP8 games right now; that of the intensive load on current hardware. You can't blame them for pushing the technology to it's limits. We'd think them lazy if they didn't. But this game heated my Lumia to painfully high levels and drained its battery in a couple of hours. Incidentally, it will also sting you for 427mb of space, which isn't too bad actually, and requires around four times that to initially install if downloaded from your phone.

Overall, I have to say, as cautious as I at first was, I am now addicted to this game. It has bitten me as unexpectedly and as indelibly as Minecraft did a year ago. I must've played for well over 20 hours already but it feels like minutes. And already my Sims have lives more interesting than mine. They have houses each with a unique layout and decor of my own design, jobs, hobbies, and relationships. I'll keep playing just to see them raise kids, develop their careers and move up to bigger and better houses.

I can easily see another 100 hours of my life consumed by this and that's convenient because as far as achievements go, you're in it for the long haul. You'll get 2 or 3 in as many hours, but many of them look daunting right now. I should also state that, at time of writing, some of the achievements appear to be reluctant to pop for an unlucky few. Hopefully a future update will amend this. As much as it annoys me however, this is not a game you play purely for 200 gamerscore. The addictive, relaxing and engaging gameplay is it's own reward and for me, transcends this issue. It's best to enjoy this game as the time-waster it is and not worry about it, enjoy the high-ratio achievements when and if you do get them, and remember the whole time that the admission price for this enjoyable experience was on the house.

This review was based on 20-25 hours play with a Lumia 820
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