The Sims series is one that has affected all of our lives in some way. Whether you play it to live vicariously through your Sims, or simply find as many creative ways to kill them, it has found a place in all of our hearts since the series began in 2000 with the release of The Sims.
The game introduced many of the features we know and love today, such as motives, Simoleons and, of course, the buy mode music. The Sims was set out in 3D but with only four isometric views onto the housing lots, which feels quite restrictive when considering that in its sequel, The Sims 2, there is a 360-degree view onto the lot.
The Sims 2 was released four years after the original Sims in 2004, and while there wasn't a lot of difference in gameplay, the graphics were improved and more exciting features were added, opening up a new and more realised world of user created custom content which could vastly improve the diversity of each save file's gameplay.
In addition to the free user-made custom content, the expansion packs of The Sims 2 had a lot more to offer in terms of content and gameplay variation than the expansion packs available for Sims. The Sims 2: Bon Voyage expansion pack ended up being my all-time favourite, as not only could you travel to three completely different holiday destinations, you could also create your own with the Sims 2 ‘Create a World’ tool. All community lots could be custom-made and hand-built to fit in with the aesthetic of the world, and could be interacted with – unlike in The Sims 3, where all community lots were made to be rabbit holes (i.e., you could not see inside of them, but the Sims can interact with them; they’re just placeholders).
Another feature added in the Sims 2: Bon Voyage was the ability to walk between housing lots instead of taking a taxi, and the ability to take a few members of the household out to a community lot. Furthermore, in the Sims 3 the lots are not completely separate entities and you can freely roam the map without loading screens between each lot – making the Sims world feel even more open and inviting than ever before.
During the summer holidays circa 2005, I would play The Sims 2 for as many hours and days as my sister would let me before taking over, during which time I created intricate maps and houses for my Sims to live in and holiday to. We had five expansion packs for the game and would play it religiously, sometimes with cheats enabled, sometimes not, and would enjoy engaging with our Sims’ pleasant lives – or else orchestrating their terrible demises.
After all, one of the main reasons a lot of people play the Sims is to find the most creative way to murder their characters. From the classic trick of removing the diving pool, to the more intricate hedge-based spiral death trap, everyone has had multiple encounters with the famous Sims Grim Reaper.
Similarly, cheat codes have always been an important part of the Sims gameplay; whether it was ;! in the Sims, motherlode in Sims 2, the whole host of later cheat codes developed throughout the franchise. These codes both enriched and limited the enjoyment of the game; you could build a spectacular house with enough money, but with too many maximised motives, the game could feel hardly worth playing.
The Sims series continues to this day, with The Sims 4 released in 2014 and the Sims 5 officially in development. Let us all hope that while new features continue to be added, the franchise stays true to its original Sims roots.