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Best and Worst of 2000

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Switch to Video Games
Game of the Year 2000

The Sims
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Maxis
More about this game
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"The game's excellent music and sound effects, detailed scenery, cleverly animated characters, and equally clever writing go a long way toward fulfilling [the game's] intriguing premise." - Andrew Seyoon Park, GameSpot Review

We didn't nominate The Sims for any of our genre awards because the game simply defies categorization. However, we weren't at all surprised to find the game at the top of all of our editors' lists as the best choice for our Game of the Year award. Despite the game's basic strategic elements, one of the reasons The Sims is such a remarkable game is because its central conflict is essentially life itself. Most any other game gives you a concrete objective: You're pitted against powerful enemy armies, arch-rivals, deadly aliens, or fantasy creatures. The Sims offers a similar challenge, but in the unlikely form of your having to manage the mundane details of an average suburban life. This witty, ambitious premise actually turned out to be a truly impressive game as well.

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The isometric perspective in The Sims gives you a bird's-eye view of your characters living in their homes, though of course there's no visible roof over their heads to obstruct your view. You can watch these characters go about their daily business: wake up, make the bed, wash up, eat, go to work, watch television, listen to music, and more. You can also direct these characters in their interactions with one other and their neighbors. Following these characters' home lives day in and day out composes the entirety of the game. Certainly, the execution of these elements could have just as easily made for a very boring game. However, The Sims manages to be exceedingly inventive in its slightly skewed and off-beat interpretation of these prosaic events.

One of the best things about The Sims is how funny and how clever it manages to be. The game's sense of humor is evident in its every detail. The game's strategic conceit is one of the funnier things about it: Each character in The Sims comprises a number of discreet attributes. When you create a character, you must balance the traits against each other to decide how nice, outgoing, neat, active, and playful your character is. In the game, you must constantly account for the character's fluctuating statistics, which correspond with the status of the character's hunger, energy, comfort, hygiene - even bladder! And you need to act upon these status changes accordingly, by eating, resting, cleaning, and relieving as necessary. Balancing these elements proves to be surprisingly challenging, and the disastrous results of misdirecting your miniature people can be hilarious. Another one of the great things about The Sims is its remarkable variety of options for social interactions between the characters. You can choose to play the game however you want; it's totally open-ended. As in real life, there's a basic assumption that you're supposed to keep your characters happy and well nourished, but there's nothing to stop you from doing otherwise.

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The Sims is suitable for all players, who'll appreciate its humor at different levels and will certainly enjoy its colorful graphics and funny, convincing sound effects. Maxis also did a great job with supporting the game online by providing free supplemental programs to let you further customize the game. The Sims is a game you can use to convince someone who doesn't already play games that he or she ought to. It's also a game that people who do enjoy games ought to have in their collection. Yet perhaps the best thing to be said about The Sims is that, through its unrelenting inventiveness and its sense of humor, you might come away from it with a slightly different outlook on your own life. The Sims gives meaning to the cumbersome events that make up a daily routine, and really, there isn't any other game this year that's accomplished anything nearly so ambitious.
  Check out the Readers' Choice Awards »


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