So I finally managed to dig a hole out from under the piles of projects I have to deal with in order to check out the latest entry into the land of the Sims. As you probably already know, the Sims and its numerous expansions – I can’t even remember them all – are huge, and run well on most Macs of recent years, better than games like Halo. Aspyr has been cracking through them all, and though they took longer to get to market than their PC counterparts, they’re just as good, if not better.
If you’ve been living under a rock, the Sims games are based on the idea that you can create and control a family of people and the home they live in. You can even build the house and choose every last detail about it. You’re free to destroy them just as quickly. The Sims themselves can be adjusted with their personality, interests, and appearance. As consumers purchased more and more expansion packs, the things that they could choose from to add to the house or its inhabitants increased.
I hate to admit it, but for a while, I couldn’t get enough Sims, and then this second one came out. The first version, with all of the expansions, has quite a bit already – you could dig for months, and not even take advantage of all of the objects it has. The trouble with this new version is, for whatever reason, all of that stuff doesn’t work anymore! You essentially start from scratch. It’s probably due to the fact that EA wants to make all new expansions, but I still think it’s lame that they cut me off (I NEED MY FIX!!!! — *jitters nervously*).
The structure of the neighborhoods are different than the original in the way you access them from the start screen, and the way each individual neighborhood works. There’s a lot more to do from day one (so you don’t worry too much about the loss of the expansions, I guess). Like the first, this game has the families that you can move from house to house, and change elements of each house, and let it fit the tastes of the owners. You still have to deal with that pesky money, so families cannot move into just any house.
The Sims themselves have changed dramatically in the way they go through the game. There is now a concrete measure of time…. the Sims will actually age, and time can potentially work against you, like in real life. The time scale is much faster, of course. For example, in the old game, children were born, and not too long after, became kids (about 13 years of age), and stayed that way for good. They never actually grew up. And their parents would stay the same age and appearance forever. Now, your family will grow and mature together – baby, child, teen, young adult, adult, senior, death…… This actually effects the way the game plays out as well. The Sims will actually have goals in mind that they wish to accomplish before they grow old, and it’s up to you to carry them through to fruition.
So, that’s all obvious to either Windows or Mac, but you’re wondering how it could play out on your machine. It’s a complicated answer, but one thing is the most true – buy more RAM before purchasing this game! Its’ graphics are amazing, but it’s choppy at best, even on my G5, when you don’t have a lot of RAM (which I do not, unfortunately). My machine is a Dual 1.8, with 512 MB of RAM, and an ATI Radeon 9600 XT. The video card should be adequate at 128 MB of VRAM, but when I had the settings at 1024 by 768, at the base settings everywhere else, it was still rather choppy. YMMV (“your mileage may vary”), and don’t trust the defaults that the game decides for your machine. Try to tweak it yourself, if you can. It’s heavy on the graphics, with a much more “3D” control (where you can rotate and pan freely like any 3D modelling app), and you can really zoom in on the action, much more than before. If you have a base model Mac (like an iBook or Mac mini), you may not be able to set the graphics very high.
The rest of the experience is very similar to the original Sims, with the fake speech that the characters make and the ability to change everything to your tastes. If you enjoyed the original Sims, and don’t mind the fact that nothing from the original will be carried over, then you’ll like this one.
There is no demo yet available for this game on Aspyr’s site. You can check out details on the game here. If you buy the game, make sure you download the patches from Aspyr’s site, as these fixed many problems that I experienced. It’s on Amazon for $50.