As much as I’ve grown tired of the Sims franchise, I have to give Maxis props for introducing some refreshing gameplay elements in the non-PC versions. The console versions were excellent as they provided the same core gameplay while giving players objectives to strive for. Earlier this year Maxis delivered a portable version of the Sims that took an entirely different approach to the franchise. Instead of being a people simulator, the company introduced an adventure game that fed off of the franchise’s elements. It was a pretty successful endeavor that provided plenty of entertainment for portable-minded gamers. Now EA and Maxis have ported the Sims over to the Nokia N-Gage with similarly successful results.
As I stated earlier, the portable versions of the Sims are a huge deviation from the franchise. The core concepts are still in place (such as the meters) but the interaction and gameplay is different. For starters, the way you can only assume control of player throughout the course of the game and the control mechanism has changed. Instead of utilizing the cursor-based system that appeared in other Sims
titles, Bustin’ Out
lets you take direct control of your character. This is a refreshing change for the franchise as you don’t have to wait for that pause between the time you give the command and the moment that the Sim executes it. Interactions with other Sims have also changed as well. When chatting with other Sims the game shifts to a conversational screen where you can choose your responses and interaction. How you respond to the Sim dictates how well your relationship progresses with them. The system works well but it takes a little out of the experience. You can choose to hug or kiss the other Sims but you don’t get to physically witness the action. It’s no big deal but sometimes it’s fun to watch the Sims interact instead of just reading what happened.
Instead of being a free-roaming life simulator, Bustin’ Out takes on the form of an adventure game. You’ll still be able to build a pad and you’ll still have to baby-sit those motive meters, but you’ll be given tasks and objectives to accomplish now. Finishing these tasks will earn you cash, the ire of your fellow Sims and mini-games that you can partake in to earn more money. In order to progress you’ll need to finish these tasks. Of course you can always just mess around and do things on your own accord. There’s no pressure on the gamer to accomplish the task, just the notion that bigger and better things lie ahead.
Running around town can be overwhelming at first, but as you get accustomed to it navigating becomes pretty simple. Initially you’ll probably be under whelmed by the town as only a few areas and shops are available. Play for a few hours, however, and you’ll realize just how massive the area is. It has all of the amenities of a large city including a hospital, a science lab and an oceanfront. In fact, it’s so large that you’ll need a moped to navigate across the terrain in the latter stages of the game. Not only will the town grow, but you’ll grow as well. You’ll soon move out of your uncle’s barn and into a schawnky clock tower which you can decorate and furnish.
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