The Sims is the best selling PC franchise of all time – since the release of the original title in 2000, The Sims has grown in leaps and bounds to release some fantastic expansions, sequels and spin-off titles across multiple platforms. While iOS devices have experienced what The Sims has to offer in previous releases, none capture the essence of the series success quite like The Sims FreePlay does.
Excellent presentation – Whether it be the clean and inviting menu screen, the presentation of the user interface or just your Sims hanging out in their homes, The Sims FreePlay looks fantastic on the iPad or iPhone 4 screen. The crystal sharp visuals are brought to life by the personalities that the Sims exhibit during their daily tasks, and the splashings of colour really make things stand out. The game keeps a smooth flow consistently, making it feel fast and powerful. Attention to details while keeping in that Sims charm has worked well for this release.
A neighbourhood of Sims – The Sims FreePlay brings you the ability to create an entire neighbourhood of Sims. Unlike previous mobile editions, FreePlay gives you the ability to create up to 16 Sims, and keep tabs of them in real time via the Sim Tracker system. This allows a dedicated player to create a whole cast of wacky Sims and live out some ridiculous melodrama in their very own town.
Fantastic controls – The Sims FreePlay is a delight to play thanks to the fantastic control scheme implemented. The game uses the same gestures that are native with iOS, with accuracy and precision key to their success. Pinch to zoom is instant and accurate, and rotating your fingers clockwise/anti-clockwise rotates the camera perfectly. Matched with perfect swipe and scrolling motions for the buy, build and customisation menus make FreePlay and absolute joy to control, and ultimately makes the game accessible to anyone who has used an iOS device in the past.
Short and fast, or in depth gameplay – The best thing about The Sims FreePlay is that it gives you an option to play in quick bursts, or devote hours of your time as you would with a full PC release. The game is very goal orientated, and these tasks are all measured in real time. If an action takes five minutes to complete, it will actually take 5 minutes of real world time to complete. Thankfully by completing goals you gain “Live Points”, points which can be used to complete actions or purchase items instantly. This allows you to have a quick burst play session and get your goals completed, or sit down and spend some quality time with your Sims if you have the time.
Game design that fits in with your lifestyle – For the first time ever, The Sims FreePlay actually works on a real-time day/night cycle. This means while you are at work, you can send your Sims to work. When you go to bed, you can also set your Sims off to meet the sandman. The real-time scheme allows you to manage your gameplay sessions around your busy schedule, get your XP and Live Points building up, rather than having to dedicated large chunks of time to the title.
No online multiplayer – Definitely not a deal breaker by any means, but it would have been nice to see some kind of online integration with your friends via EA’s Origin service, or even Apple’s Game Centre. There are no social zones to play with friends, which would have seen this title hit perfection. Iron Monkey are set to ensure the game changes with public demand, so we may see it in the future via incremental updates.
Premium items are a little pricey – As the name suggests, The Sims FreePlay is a free to play title. Unlike other “freemium” titles, FreePlay allows the player to buy Simoleons or Life Points to speed up their progression if they desire. It’s actually quite a good system – those who are dedicated to The Sims will probably want to spend some cash to get those Simoleons for an awesome item quicker than working for a living. It’s completely optional, but some of those items are quite pricey. Only dedicated fans will be lured into spending the money, but it doesn’t detract from the game at all.
The Sims FreePlay is a credit to Iron Monkey and EA. Essentially they have taken a decade old franchise, changed the gameplay to allow quick bursts or in-depth gameplay and implemented some of the best controls in an iOS title to date. As a result we have one of the slickest apps to be released in 2011, and even casual Sims fans will be lured into checking it out. The asking price of $0 means if you’re just a little curious, you can definitely check this out. If you take the plunge, you will be pleasantly surprised by what awaits you.