The Sims Bustin' Out Review
The Sims have been around on the PC for some time, but have recently made their way onto console systems. In the PC version of the game, your goal is simply to do well in life by advancing in your career, accumulating wealth and a nice home, and developing and maintaining relationships with those around you. As long as your sim is happy youíre doing well in the game. This broad approach to gameplay works well on the PC where gamers are used to such open-ended games, but in the fast-paced, goal-based world of video games this style of play would not go over so well. Realizing this, Maxis put The Sims through a bit of a transformation on its way to consoles. The heart of the game remained intact, with motives, interactions, and careers all remaining a factor in the console version. However Maxis added some console-friendly new elements to the game. Now players actually had very specific short-term goals such as getting a promotion at work, helping another sim with a task, or improving your sim and his/her home. Achieving these goals rewards you by unlocking new items for your home, unlocking multiplayer modes (another first), and letting you advance to a new and bigger home with a whole new set of goals to accomplish. These changes worked well for the game, making it more of a, well, game than a ďlife simulatorĒ. However, the game was still limiting in one regard Ė each level took place in a single house which imposed a limit on your goals and on which other sims you could meet and befriend. Well Bustiní Out is here to literally help your sim bust out of the confines of his or her home and explore the whole neighborhood.
The basics of gameplay remain the same in Bustiní Out. You begin the game by creating a simulated person, or sim, and customizing his or her appearance and personality traits. Bustiní Out gives you more choices than before in the looks department, with more head, hairstyle, and clothing options. Once you are satisfied with your new sim the game brings him or her to life and it is then up to you to keep your sim happy and healthy. Like a real person a sim has basic needs which the game refers to as motives. Sims need to eat, rest, have some fun, and even go to the bathroom, just like real people. And like real people, if these needs arenít met sims begin to become unhappy and even downright cranky, refusing to do much of anything until they are satisfied. Fulfilling these needs is accomplished by directing your sim to interact with various objects and other sims appearing in the game. Is your sim feeling lonely? Talk to another sim. Is your sim sleepy? Direct your sim to interact with a bed object. Hungry? Use a stove object to make a meal. In the PC version of the game fulfilling these motives required a lot of effort, but in Bustiní Out they have been toned down. Youíll still need to keep on eye on your simís motives and make sure that they are satisfied, but this wonít take the majority of your time and you wonít feel constantly pressured by them.
The most interesting of your simís motives is the need for social interaction. To satisfy this motive youíll need to find other sims and interact with them. When you first meet a new sim, only a few basic interactions are available Ė you can have polite conversations but thatís about it. Later, as you become friends and unlock additional interactions youíll be able to gossip, flirt, hug, kiss, and initiate a myriad of other interactions. There is a bit of an art to conversation in Bustiní Out as you must carefully choose which interactions to attempt. Try to kiss a stranger and you can expect to be rejected. Timing is also important as sims in a good mood are more receptive to social interactions. Choose the right interactions and your relationship rating will improve. Choose the wrong one and youíll lose points with that sim. Develop a high rating with a sim and youíll become friends and may eventually see love blossom. Watching sims interact is an interesting aspect of the game. Icons which appear above simsí heads in little cartoon conversation bubbles clue you in to what they are talking about and their body language and expressions will give you a good idea if the interaction is going well or not.
Being a sim is not just about fulfilling needs Ė sims need to better themselves as well. Your sim is rated in several skill areas such as charisma, mechanical skill, and body development. Improving your simís skills makes him or her eligible for promotions at work also help him or her use some of the gameís objects more efficiently. For example, a sim with a high cooking skill satisfies the hunger motive more efficiently when fixing a meal. Skills are improved through interacting with objects such as working out on a weight set for body improvement or through reading a book on cooking to improve the cooking skill. The first few points in each skill area is easy to get, but each point thereafter requires more and more time to acquire. Itís not too exciting to watch your sim using an object for a long period of time and only those with near infinite patience will max out more than a few of their simsí skills.