On the seventh day, God rested. On the eighth day, God made Will Wright, who in turn made The Sims. Then presumably somewhere in the universe of The Sims, Sim Will Wright made the version of The Sims they play in The Sims, and that, as they say, is history.
The Sims, for those of you who’ve recently awoken from cryogenic stasis, is one of the seminal pc games of all time. It’s a life simulator, where you control families of simulated humans – sims, and lead them along the winding, fraught path of life to whatever bizarre ends your fevered mind can dream up. Its sequel, The Sims 2, is considered a kind of magnum opus of the series and spawned somewhere in the region of one hundred and thirty million DLC’s and stuff packs, and it’s all available for free, until the 31st July on Origin, EA’s distribution software.
The reasons behind this remarkable deal are unclear, old or not, and even with fourth installment of the series soon to be released The Sims 2 has weathered the test of time like no other. With all the trimmings it’s close to 13 GB of game, despite being ten years old, and as a giveaway, the offer is almost one of a kind. My guess is that it’s a cheap ploy by EA to try and get Origin to compete with Steam. It won’t work, but cheers anyway EA.
Now, it really is quite difficult to make the mind boggling grandness of The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection live for you. By the time Maxis gave up on bringing out expansions for it they had pretty much given you everything you could have ever wanted the game to have, and a whole heap of stuff you never considered but are grateful for anyway.
To give you a picture of the ridiculous scope of it all, I’m currently sitting here writing this after having slipped for almost twelve hours through a crack in the time-space continuum. The entire day was lost to me and I don’t know how. This of course, is the great irony of the Sims games, which essentially allow you to live the lives of virtual people whilst (arguably) wasting your own. I actually feel physically weak, drained, as if the artificial beings whose existences I’d been haphazardly guiding all day had been sustaining themselves off my own life force.
The thing is, if anything there is too much game. You just don’t know what to do first or how on earth you’re going to get round to doing it all, it’s like being a six year old in Toys’R’Us. For starters, some of the DLC features are legitimately nuts. Along with vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies and aliens the Seasons DLC also gives you the wonderfully contrived concept of “plant-sims”. Plant sims! Oh god, come quick. Will Wright’s been injecting liquid ketamine into his fucking eyeballs again.
The game teases you with the sheer endlessness of its possibilities and gives you what now feels to be, with my much longer attention span than when I last played a Sims game, a brutally short time frame. If you create an adult sim, you have 29 days until the bleak, mortal prognosis of the Elder stage kicks in. 29 days to achieve all the things you want to with the prime of your little friends life. They could start a business, live it up downtown, go on holiday, go to university, start using magic, get a pet or perhaps spend their life feeding their fellow sims to a giant Venus fly trap. You’ll probably want them to get married and have children but ha! Sucker! Because as in real life, having children takes up the vast majority of your time from the second they’re born until they finally flee the nest, and you could soon find your sim old and bitter, begrudging their progeny for all the opportunities they made them forgo. Of course if you can accrue the required aspiration points by fulfilling the games various little challenges, you can delay the reaper with the help of a luminous green substance known as the elixir of life. But in a way the game can then just turn into an endless quest to repeatedly fill the quota required to get the potion to not grow old, never truly enjoying your perpetual youth, but rather existing in a loop where all you do is fulfill the banal chores necessary to keep you there. Which when you think about it, is a rather grim, Poe-ian parable.
The Sims 2 is, at its worst, a darkly satirical metaphor for life. So many things to do, and one life is too short to do it all. You’re forced to make hard choices on behalf of your sims and they in turn have to make sacrifices. All that they can do is frantically try to fit as much into their lives as possible in the knowledge that soon enough the bell shall toll for thee.
Christ. Moving on….
Look, in truth, The Sims 2 is beyond grand, it’s beyond spectacular. It’s at times truly breathtaking, not bad for a game which came out the year Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook. Ultimately my only complaint, in so far as you could call it one is that the game, for all its brilliance, is pure evil.
It’s a game which would ultimately take a full human lifetime to play in its entirety, enjoying and seeing everything it has to offer. It’s a game man was not meant to play, stolen from the gods by Will Wright, the Prometheus of the gaming world. And so the core question in this review is as follows: If a game is so good at what it does, so immense and yet so playable that you could feasibly spend your entire life doing nothing else, is it a good game? Or is it a heinous atrocity, a crime against humanity that should be eradicated from the face of the earth before it can do anymore damage?
I don’t know the answers, but I think if I can get my sim’s logic skill up high enough he might be able to figure it out, so I’ll get back to you.