The Sims: Bustin' Out
Thanks to the good folks at Maxis I’ve been in contact with each and every iteration of the Sims. I’ve taken them on vacation, took them on hot dates, made some magic with them, unleashed some pets, threw a house party, lived large and even became a superstar. One thing that I haven’t been able to do though is to bust out with my Sims, but now I can thanks to the franchise’s second appearance in the console realm. While everything isn’t as fresh and as new as it was the first time around I concede that Bustin’ Out is a worthy follow up to The Sims that will do well to satisfy the fans of the original.
It doesn’t try to do anything terribly different from the first game nor does it need to. If you’ve played any of the Sims games before you can jump right in without hesitation. Like before console gamers are given a bit of structure and direction, something seriously lacking in the open-ended PC version. The main game mode, bust out, gives you goals and tasks to accomplish as you play through the game. Accomplishing these goals and advancing in life will yield new rewards such as furniture and better living conditions. Like the previous console entry, I welcome this mode with open arms because it adds some much-needed structure to the game.
In addition to the new storyline the gameplay seems to have been reworked a bit. My favorite change occurs when there are a number of items in the vicinity of the cursor. Instead of having to poly hunt and click on the exact object that you want to interact with you can bring up a menu that lets you choose the item that you want to play with. So let’s say you’re in the kitchen and someone’s standing right next to the fridge. Before you’d have to click precisely on the fridge in order to interact with it, now you can click in the general area and a menu will pop up with the fridge and the name of the person standing near it. Simply pick the fridge and you’re on your way, no more fidgeting around until you lose your nerve.
It also appears that Sims are less reliant on the player now. One of the largest complaints from the series is that the player has to spend too much time babysitting their Sims. Now Sims will do the appropriate actions to fulfill their motives (the little happiness meters) with very little provocation on your part. Speaking of the motives, it appears that they still filled longer and actually fill up faster than before. This allows you to spend more time playing around instead of wasting time catering to the Sims needs. Overall the game is much more streamlined this time around and is much more fun to play.
Most of the fun comes from the sheer amount of actions that you can do. While last year’s game featured a healthy variety of actions this second iteration adds even more of them. Best of all, there are a bunch of really entertaining ones that really fit well into the context of the game. Before you could only talk or tell jokes in order to improve relationships, now you’ll be able to do funny things like asking a Sim to pull your finger (complete with large toxic cloud) or burping in their face. Like the furniture, when you progress through the game you’ll unlock even more actions.Since the PS2 lacks a mouse the game uses an easy to use cursor based system. Depending on where your halo is, a menu will pop up with actions that are applicable to the situation. So let’s say you click on the refrigerator the list will include actions such as “grab a snack” or “serve dinner.” Similarly, clicking on another Sim will open up a menu filled with actions such as dance, tell a joke or kiss. This system worked well in the first Sims game as it helped to avoid clutter and it works great here as well.
Bustin’ Out won’t win any awards for technical beauty but it’s a pretty attractive game. Most of the beauty comes from the atmosphere of the game. We can relate to nearly every single object and environment in the game because, well we all live in similar surroundings. Every object is intricately rendered and features plenty of small little details that really add an extra layer of depth. Some of the player models are a bit lacking in polygons but their fluid animations make up for this deficiency. If you’re playing the PS2 or GameCube version be prepared for a few aliasing problems on the outlines of the characters. It’s nothing too noticeable unless you spend hours with the Xbox version of the game and then decide to transition to the PS2 version. Overall you’re looking at a very visually competent game that won’t strain your eyes after hours of gameplay.
I’ve always been a fan of the music from the series so I’m thankful that this game continues to deliver in the department. Most of the tunes are subdued and seem like something that you’d hear in the home department of JCPenny but it really fits in well here. Many of the classic tunes that you’ve heard in the franchise are present here so veterans should know what to expect. Same goes for the rest of the audio effects, the Sims still talk in that gibberish while most of the ambient sounds from stereos and televisions remain unchanged.
If you picked up the PS2 version you’ll be able to take your Sim into the online realm via the online weekend mode. This interesting mode allows players to enter other Sims’ houses to chat, interact and to trade items. If you’re a GameCube fan you’ll get a little more out of your game via the GBA-to-GC connectivity. An interesting thing about this is that it allows you to transport your GBA Sims onto the GameCube game, giving your Sim a bit more to do. Xbox fans get shafted in the extras department but they do get the lushest visuals and support for high definition televisions. Each version contains a single-console multiplayer mode that allows both players to essentially work together in the single-player free form mode. This is the mode that Maxis should have included in last year’s game, not the lame mini-game-esque mode version.
Overall you're getting an awful lot of mileage out of The Sims: Bustin' Out. Some may complain that it's just a thinly veiled expansion pack but that's an unfair assessment. It recycles many of the same elements of last year's game but adds enough features and gameplay variations to allow the title to stand on its own two feet. If you're a fan of the Sims then you'll definitely want to check this one out.
You own a PC, youâ€™re probably tired of Maxisâ€™ The Sims franchise by now. Console gamers, however, are just being ushered in to the world that Will Wright built and this second entry is pretty par for the course. It does a great job of expanding upon the original so if you loved the first game youâ€™re bound to love Bustinâ€™ Out.
Rating: 8.4 Good
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.
It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.
It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.
When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."
As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.
When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.
Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile