Living the free life.
Freemium is often the bane of the App Store. But Freemium done right can work wonders for a game, as EA’s latest Sims title proves.
The Sims Freeplay is different to the other Sims games already available on the App Store. For one, it’s actually a lot closer to the original PC games than those other apps. Secondly, everything is real-time. Going to bed actually and sleeping takes around the same time it would in real life, going to work means getting your Sims up and out the house at 8am and then back home at 4pm or whenever the work hours are.
In fact the timing element really is a game-changer and it’ll be the one thing that makes you either love or hate this game. Having to wait while your Sim takes a shower can be frustrating. But throw in 3 or 4 more Sims and you’ll be managing them all with no time to worry about waiting for one of them to complete their task.
The Tutorial takes you through all the actions, menus and task variations that you’ll need to achieve to earn Simolians, the in game currency. A secondary type of currency, Lifestyle Points, are earned by raising your Sims levels and completing missions. These points allow you to complete a task instantly, useful for those in a hurry or who don’t want to play the game in realtime. But they are also essential for buying bigger items, some of which are required for later tasks.
The Freemium aspect does seem to be well balanced throughout the game, mainly because the early missions from the tutorial onwards actually provide you with quite a few in return for completing tasks or even to complete the task itself. However, after a few days play I reached a few missions that asked for quite a few points without providing anything in return. This could well be an issue if you’ve already spent the points and there’s no telling when the game will ask you to buy something in order to continue.
You can always bypass the missions and carry on with the day to day activities until you have enough Lifestyle points to continue, but it will often take a fair amount of time to build these up. But then you can argue that this game is initially free and EA need to make money at the end of the day. In the game’s defence, it never feels totally unfair when you’re asked to shell out money, it’s just a case of balancing your in-game spending.
Graphically, The Sims Freeplay is the best looking Sims game on iOS yet, especially if you’re playing on iPad. Though there are times when pressing on a wall or item will result in bringing up the wrong options, it’s mostly easy to navigate thanks to the detail in the graphics and ability to easily zoom and rotate the whole scene. Detail is also key in producing those funny moments where Sims excels; the showering, flirting and all the other things that your Sims will get up to are captured perfectly here.
Ultimately, whether you enjoy the game or not will depend on whether you can see past the freemium tag and if you get on with the real-time actions. Some may find it a good fit with their own life and others will just get annoyed with having to wait so long for your little friend to finish a task.
For me, though, EA’s latest Sims is the best Sims game on iOS, particularly if you’re playing on iPad. It’s just as addictive as the other good freemium titles out there (Tiny Towers, Smurfs Village) even if it does take a bit of grinding to get anywhere.
- Sound: 7
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 8
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