Facebook Friday – The Sims Social

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I have to admit – I didn’t think games available on Facebook would take off the way they have. I thought there would be a few that were popular and the rest would fade into obscurity. But looking at the huge number of Facebook games available has proven me wrong – and has also led to the creation of a new feature at Save Game – Facebook Friday!

Get excited, readers – because every Friday, we here at Save Game will be reviewing a game on Facebook and letting you know our thoughts. We’ll cover the important points – is the game fun? Can you play it for five minutes at a time? Do you need to irritate your Facebook friends with wall requests in order to get the most out of the game?

First up on the review roster is one of the new kids to the scene – but one that’s already made a huge impact. The Sims Social burst onto the scene only a few months ago, and has already amassed a huge player base. But is the game any good? I’ve been playing it for a few weeks now, and below are my thoughts.

I’ll admit it. I’m a Sims junkie. I’ve been with the series right from the start, and if my memory serves, The Sims was one of the first games I played for more than 100 hours. I don’t know what it is about the game that makes it so addictive, but addictive it has been to me, and the Sims Social on Facebook definitely retains that addictive quality….at least for the first few weeks.

I first decided to try the game after getting a few notifications from friends who had already started playing. I thought I’d give it a try, maybe fiddle around to see what the games about. For someone like me, who likes to level up their character and is always striving to get bigger and better loot – this game is addictive. It offers quests, both large and bite-size; the ability to level up your sim and earn bigger and better rewards; the ability to customize your sim (obviously) and to see the difference in your sim when you skill them on items or abilities. Anyone who has played any of the previous Sims games will feel right at home, as the core gameplay is retained in this smaller version. You do all the same things as you do in the retail versions of the game – so the game plays the same – and this is both an advantage and a disadvantage.

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This is Ethan Fabuloso. He enjoys painting, serenading women, keeping his house clean and doing all things ninja-ry.

For those of you who have played any of the Sims games – you know what you’re going to get. For those of you who haven’t – the game is basically a life sim. You create your character, and then you play them as they progress through their days. You must take care of their needs (both basic such as going to the toilet and showering, as well as their social and fun needs), and the game gives you the ability to customise your sim – from what they wear, to the type of person they are. Higher level gameplay mechanics like life aspirations and work are not included in this edition – and that’s probably a good thing. But even without those elements, there is still a lot to do in the game. Below are some summarised points covering the main things you might want to know before you begin playing.

Can you play without paying?

Yes, but all the very nice things are paid items. As a non-paying gamer, you need patience to get the good things, and a lot of the items require a considerable investment of time. If you don’t have much patience, or if you want instant gratification, the Sims Social may not be for you.

The game is broken up into smaller goals that feed into and constitute larger goals – the quest system usually consists of a series of mini-quests which will result in a reward at the end of the larger quest line. If you are willing to put in the time to earn the rewards instead of taking the easier option and paying to complete the quest, you can nab nice items for your sim. But to earn the best items without paying, you will have to put in the time.

Can you play without friends?

Yes, but some quests you will not be able to complete, which means that some items will therefore be unavailable to you. There’s a reason ‘social’ is in the title, as the game is very much based around getting your other friends involved and interacting with them through your wall and the game. And the game does emphasise bringing in new people. If a friend starts playing the Sims Social, you will likely receive a request from them. And you might see quest requests pop up on their wall. The Sims Social even involves people without getting them to play the game, via asking friends to click on links on other friends’ walls. The game provides a bot for some social interaction, but you will have to involve your friends at some stage if you want to experience all that the game offers.

Can you play for only 5-10 minutes at a time?

Yes, and this is how the Sims Social is structured. The game itself uses an energy system, where your sim is given 15 energy points (which does refresh over time as you use energy but only to a max of 15). These energy points are what your sim uses to carry out activities. Making your bed, skilling on items (cooking, guitars etc), fixing appliances, all require energy, and once your allocated energy points have been spent, you are really hamstrung with with you can do. At that point you have three choices – you can stop playing and come back to the game later when your energy reserves have bult back up; you can use energy items like coffee or energy bars to build back your energy; or you can buy extra energy and keep playing.

And this is where the game gets you – because once you run out of energy – as long as you want to keep playing and you don’t have items that add energy, you have to buy energy. Sure, you can continue to do non-skill based needs activities (like sleeping and going to the toilet), but if you want to progress quest objectives, you need those energy points. No energy points means no more quest-centric playtime. And this limits your average playtimes to around 5-10 minutes. It’s a good game to play if you only have a spare ten minutes, but if you want to sit down for longer playtimes, be prepared to either hoard energy giving items, or pay for more energy.

Is the game fun?

Yes and no, and in the end how much fun you have with the Sims Social will depend on what kind of experience you are looking for. If you’re a Sims fan, you’ll no doubt enjoy it. And if you’re looking for a game that only takes 5-10 minutes every day to play, then you might enjoy it too. But if you’re looking for something you can play for extended periods of time, something that constantly challenges you and keeps you thinking – you might want to look elsewhere. The Sims Social is simply a smaller, bite-sized version of the retail games.

Would I recommend this game?

Yes and no. The game itself is fun and addictive and it is enjoyable to play if you have a spare five minutes. There aren’t any bugs I’ve come across (except for a few sound issues) and graphically the game looks nice. Fans of the Sims series will know what they are getting here and the game doesn’t provide any real surprises. It uses the formula that has proven so successful for EA over the years. If you enjoy The Sims, give it a try, but if you aren’t a patient person or someone who doesn’t have many facebook friends who would get involved – I’d bypass it. The game is just a watered down, social-heavy free version of the base Sims games. Seasonal specific community events – like the recently celebrated Halloween and Sci-Fi week are a nice touch – but after a while the routine sets in and you realise you’re doing the same thing, waiting around until your friends provide items you need to complete your quests.

Final Verdict

You’ll likely play this game for 1-2 weeks and then move on to something else. Give it a try if you’re into the Sims games, but don’t expect to be still wanting to play it this time next month.


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    About the Author: (@MidnightReyn) Founder & Editor-in-Chief

    Tash

    Tash is a self-diagnosed gaming fanatic with a doctorate in Psychology. She's also a self-confessed Mass Effect fangirl and will likely talk your ears off if you ever get her started on the subject. A lover of all things RPG and adventure, she has more gamer related action figures and memorabilia than any 20 something year old professional has a right to own, and has spent more time than she’d like to admit to daydreaming about exactly what she would do should the Zombie Apocalypse actually happen.