"It's about nothing." --George Costanza, Seinfeld
Rarely has a game had so much hype: the cover of a national newsweekly, articles in every newspaper from L.A. to New York, comments that The Sims Online--or TSO for short--will save PC games from console-game encroachment. The Sims earned such attention because the concept was brilliant. The Sims was less a game and more a fun software toy, with no way to win. The Sims Online follows the same formula. Unlike other online games, TSO was specifically designed to not have traditional rewards such as gold, power, or magic items. There are no levels to attain, or princesses to rescue. Instead, players take joy in little victories--maybe your Sim cooperates with others, and all four of you manage to bake a pizza without burning it and then sell it. Or maybe you throw a party, and all the cool kids show up and have a good time. The core reward for playing the game is nothing... nothing more or less than the joy of playing.
Unlike the original Sims, where you created a number of Sims and controlled them all as a god, in TSO you create and control only one Sim at a time. This is a significant change, as you can't direct one Sim to perform a time-consuming task and then switch to another Sim until the task is complete. Instead, if you want your Sim to do anything in the game, you have to watch him do it in tedious real time (the fast-forward button, so vital in the original Sims, is gone). For example: when your Sim is sleeping, you have to sit and watch him sleep for the five minutes it takes him to refresh. This real-time aspect is excruciating. The game designers probably thought that a group of ten people, while watching their Sims work out in an exercise room together, would alleviate the boredom of watching Sims pump virtual iron by striking up a conversation (the chat aspect gets a lot of comment from TSO designer Will Wright). The problem is that unlike a chat room, where a topic or passion is already shared by everyone in the room, the only thing a player has in common with other folks in TSO is that everyone is watching their Sims power up. Such basic commonality doesn't spark quality conversation. The best you can hope for is some idiot inevitably commenting "nice grunt" or making some other silly sexual innuendo (often with *%$^@*# fake words generated by the much-needed obscenity filter).
If you're willing to put in the time, there's still the issue of paying month-by-month to access your Sim. For this reason, word of mouth, which caused The Sims to rocket from obscurity to the Best-Selling PC Game of All Time, is working against TSO. Casual game players loudly criticize the idea of paying for both a game and a game service, despite the fact that many of these same players are comfortable shelling out hundreds of dollars for cable, magazines, TiVo, and other monthly subscription-based entertainment services. The overall trend toward pay-per-month-of-play service is generally accepted by the hardcore gamers who play dynamic online adventure games like EverQuest, where gamers can see their monthly tribute at work in the form of fancy new spells and labyrinths. But TSO is a quietly suburban diversion for mostly casual gamers, filled with objects that are mundane by design. In TSO, you putter, you work out, you chat with others in the real world via your avatars. To put it another way: you live a slightly zanier version of everyday life, and frankly, that costs a lot already.
TSO still has the core elements that made the first game a classic: obsession with the minutiae of daily life, amusing content from the game designers, and the mind-bending thing that happens when you've been playing too long--that the real world starts to look exactly like The Sims. (Couch shopping caused that surreal "Is it Sims, or is it real?" experience for a friend.) TSO may still prove to be the Goliath the media predicted it would be thanks to the nature of ever-changing online games. Ironically, the monthly fees that bother so many new TSO players will pay for the improvements those same players crave. For example, EA plans to release new functionality that will allow players to design clothes and objects (a big hit with players of the original Sims).
TSO is fluid, and the game reviewed as it is at launch may be very different from TSO in a year, when the designers are able to respond to player requests. Even until that time, there are good things about this game. When your character is "greened up," dressed in disco finery and looking to hit it lucky with the dice, TSO can be a blast. But the tidal wave of hype may have done more harm than good for a game that has a simple, Seinfeldish heart. --Jennifer Buckendorff
- Gameplay similar to The Sims
- Wide variety of social interactions, including a deep menu of dance moves
- Persistent online world lets you share the Sims experience with others
- Lack of fast-forward feature is a drag
- At launch, too few in-game money-making opportunities
- At launch, game world seems empty--there's not enough to do
- Players of The Sims, used to easy money through cheat codes, may balk at having to actually work for in-game cash
1 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
this isn't 1/5 it's 1/100, Dec 2, 2022
I have heard nothing but bad things about it and me myself have not seen any good changes. I am sticking with a 1*. I well check back during the summer and seen whats changed. I hope for a big improvment because for the TSO THE GRADE FOR THEIR REPORT CARD IS A "F" - - - - 1/10 I couldn't say it better myself. Change my mind people. I have the TSO and could go back. What is their to go back too. Make me change my mind I really want to play but what is their to go back to
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Sims Online is really fun..., Nov 25, 2022
I was pleasantly suprised when I played this game, normally I am more of a RPG guy, but this ame is crazy. A lot more creative than I was expecting. I loved it... getting it for the kids as an x-mas gift...
0 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Making Magic vanising items, Nov 11, 2022
Has anyone have the same problem as me? After installing Making Magic, my iguanas and love birds dissapeared. I have also lost the ability to go to the comunity lots. Please e-mail me if there is a solution
5 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
It's much improved now, Nov 6, 2022
Many many changes have been made since the inital release. This should've been the version that was initially rolled out. More changes to come!
9 of 21 people found the following review helpful:
Mindless Chatroom with a few game elements thrown in!, Oct 25, 2022
TSO was and still is HUGE disappointment. Its merely a chatroom with a Sims theme and ITS NOT WORTH the cost. I recently cancelled after foolishly paying for months of what is essentially a giant Sim Chatroom with some game elements thrown
to give the casual player the false assumption that they are playing an actual game when in fact they're only participating in an interactive chatroom.
Why can't Electronic Arts spend more time on making a really good game or two, rather than making a below average to horrible animated chatroom that has little to offer?