Monday, May 26, 2014

The Sims 2 vs The Sims 3 (Part II)

You can read the first part of my ranty review/thoughts here.
          Building: I am not an avid builder and I do not spend hours playing with CFE. From my point of view it is difficult to create cohesive routable buildings in both games, but I like the Sims 3 CAST and tomb building tools a lot. Though I wish it was as easy to precisely sculpt terrain as it was in the Sims 2 and both games would benefit greatly with complimentary themed sets of doors and windows.
         Gameplay: Well, what can I write in this paragraph, I'm completely biased towards the Sims 2. Firstly, it suits my play style better and secondly it gives me more options to play this or that scenario I have in mind. For example, I can buy groceries in town or use the telephone, I can own a restaurant or I can use one to have a great date or family outing. I like how characters interact and act on community lots according to their personalities, and that there are no long pauses between animations as in the Sims 3 case. Meaningful long-lasting memories and sane attraction system are also a blessing, they do add depth to the characters. If there was an option to roam the map freely, visit neighbours, sculpt bodies and organize social events on community lots, it would've been a perfect game for me.
        The Sims 3, on the other hand, is more restrictive, shallow and kid safe, plus I still cannot get over the fact that bistros and stores are "rabbitholes". What sane person would read text about the great time their sims are having in said bistro instead of playing it? The chances something bad happens in this game are non-existent and it has a very low difficulty level. I have yet to see a meteor and my single sim can go from empty lot to beautiful upper middle class home in a week. Overall I believe that if the Sims 3 base game would have been stable and better thought out from the start, it would work with expansions better and allow developers to introduce new and much more intricate systems, such as apartments or managing businesses. This game had a lot of great ideas - such as horses and minor pets, houseboats and diving lots, entertainment career and many more. Sadly, the execution is far from great and the bugs are never addressed properly. There are a lot of scripted events that player simply cannot avoid, for example the curfew, the reaction to seing a plumbbot or a ghost or the instant reaction to cheating. All this, plus gradual breakage of save files, poor animations and countless errors make the game unplayable for me. Yes, the visuals are beautiful and picturesque, the open world seems unrestricted and full of opportunities, but as the result you get broken lighting and empty nightclubs. This whole game seems like smoke and mirrors to me.
           So, what do I think so far about the Sims 4 we'll get this autumn? I believe it will be more like the Sims 3 then the Sims 2 in it's execution and game play depth. I think we'll lose more old and time tested features for the sake of gimmicks and online stuff. I do like how the sims themselves look and move, I don't even mind the plastic hair that much, but I greatly dislike the general brightness, bloom, proportions and fakeness of the neighbourhood and a lot of things mentioned in previews and articles bother me (car animations, neighbourhood backgrounds, unlocking content etc.). I have yet to see what can overweigh both the Sims 2 and the Sims 3 that I already own.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Is it Finally Done?

     It seems I work on Aspen Islands world for ages and ages - as soon as I get all errors fixed, routing polished and update lots the new patch comes out and breaks this or that or adds something new. Lets' hope this one works in the long run. I think I'll release it in a couple of days.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Sims 2 vs The Sims 3 (Part I)

           So, it seems that The Sims 3 series has finally come to an end, as I don't see the Store team bringing any substantial game play innovations. Well, maybe they'll still manage to break something else with one more small insignificant patch, actually it will not be surprising at all. Anyway I wanted to somehow sum up both iterations from my player's perspective, after all this topic was and still is debated and it will help me to make up my mind about the upcoming The Sims 4. Since there will be no more expansions or stuff packs it is safe to compare both. 
             I've witnessed  the advertizing of both and bought The Sims 2 and The Sims 3 base games as soon as they appeared on the market and I must say that leaving aside the unfortunate the Sims 2 trailer which turned nothing like the game actually was the whole the Sims 3 marketing companion was highly untruthful and over-hyped. Does anyone remember how many times producers tooted impressive AI and "tons of impressive trait specific new interactions" giving "Steal the candy from a baby" as an example? Well, turned out there are only several really unique ones, the rest is marketing fluff and text. Moreover the Sims 2 base game was much more stable then the Sims 3 one from the get go. I've never seen so many patches for an offline game before in my life, furthermore I've never seen so may patches that break previous patches once again or take away game functionality (for example reclaiming items from the junkyard).
          Create-A-Sim: As for me, from the point of view of genetics, sim's character and face sculpting in the Sims 2 is better - the genetics actually work, you can see the traits of the parents in the children and grandchildren, character points paired with aspirations add consistency and make it possible to create sims with diverse and distinct personalities, enabling attractions. On the other hand traits in the Sims 3 seem superficial and shallow, you really cannot fully describe a personality with something like "Loves to swim" or "Loves Cold", sims can't be compared using some sort of similar parameters hence attraction system is awful. As a result you get a bunch of sims, that act and react absolutely the same. Face sculpting tools, default textures and templates have their drawbacks and strong points in both games.
         Skin sliders and advance bodysculpting are definitely a selling points of the Sims 3. Not to forget the awesome CAST, that enabled countless haircolours and clothing items recolours without resorting to external programs. On the other hand CAST slowed the game down considerably and ruined genetics, clothing textured look flat and shiny due to lack of small details and shadowing. Thanks to general art style and better animations the Sims 2 sims overall seem more believable, I tend to sympathize and remember them, while the Sims 3 sims, even with better customization and different body shapes seem disposable dummies.

         Neighbourhood and World Creation: In game town editor is better in the Sims 2, though it doesn't let you to change terrain without cheats it doesn't break the save when used. If you add or move too many lots in the Sims 3 you'll eventually break the routing, making the save unstable.
       I am not afraid of CAW and love it dearly in spite of it's flaws and bugs, so for me neighbourhood creation and environment visuals are definitely better in the Sims 3. In fact it's the only reason I still play it. I just love to come up with an idea, create a world with some character and watch how sims inhabit it and progress. Well, the last part is almost impossible with in game Story Progression, but I'll get to it in Gameplay abstract in the next part of my review.