The Sims Castaway Stories Review
The Sims series takes inspiration from Lost, banishing them to a deserted island.
Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 21st February 2008
The Sims Castaway Stories
- Developer: EA Games
- Publisher: EA Games
- Release Date: 6th February 2008
I have been a massive fan of The Sims franchise since the day the first one was released in the year of the millennium. Who wouldn’t like playing God and bossing around entire families of little computer people? Even if their ‘Simlish’ language was a little irritating and the fact that each sim took around 3 hours just to go to the toilet! The huge popularity of this game however allowed EA to milk the title for all it was worth with expansion pack after expansion pack, before finally releasing the eagerly anticipated sequel four years later. The Sims 2 boasted hugely improved graphics, gameplay and interactions. Players were also able to nurture generations of Sims and build their own neighborhoods. Although the Sims still spent an extraordinarily long time on the loo, they no longer had to get up at 3am in order to get to work on time!
So what are “Sims Stories” all about? When I put this question to another gamer I was told that the story games are basically a watered down version of the Sims 2, with specific storylines to follow rather than the completely open game play Sims fans were used to. I must admit, I didn’t exactly rush out for a copy of The Sims Life Stories when it was released, Being such an avid fan of The Sims 2 I was sure I wouldn’t like the changes made to the game, but I have to say once I actually played “The Sims Castaway Stories” I was pleasantly surprised!
So we come to the actual storyline which is strange in a Sims review! Well they have kept it pretty simple really, you get to choose between two characters (basically a man or a woman) and you start your adventure on a cruise ship heading for a paradise island. However, tragedy strikes when a storm wrecks the ship and leaves you floating unconscious towards a desert island. Hours later, you wake up only to find yourself completely stranded and alone on “castaway beach” where your quest to escape from the island begins.
Essentially, although the screen is still set out in the classic Sims style with “wants” and “needs”, the game plays like a classic point and click adventure. Main goals are presented to you at the bottom of the screen and you must fulfill them as they come up in order to progress the story. These, again tend to be goals such as “find the axe” or “speak to the chief” and rather than just hearing a load of nonsense when you do speak to other characters, the dialogue of what is actually being said is written at the top of the screen.
So, once you find yourself stranded on the beach you set about, organising your camp, all this needs to include at first are the bare minimum objects required for survival including shelter and fire. Food has to be found manually around the island and includes delights such as fresh fish (from the sea or pools obviously) and fruit from the trees. Rather than money like in previous games, your motivation this time around is resources. The more resources you collect (including wood and various other materials) the ‘richer’ you are and this enables you to buy more objects from the catalogue. Most of the objects are just slightly re-designed versions of things that were available in the other games but there are a few additions suited to the castaway theme such as the hammock and fire powered lamps.
As in the other Sims games, your character will be able to acquire the usual skills such as cooking, mechanical, body, charisma etc and can even find himself a career from a choice of three, Hunter, Gatherer or Crafter. As usual your Sim will be told when to head off to work and will need to work on his skills in order to achieve promotion. Amazingly, a trunk full of all your treasured positions was also washed up on the very same beach and from here you have access to your cookery, mechanical and cleaning study books, as well as your journal (which you can use to boost your social mood before you meet anyone else) and so everything is pretty much at hand in order to prepare you for your adventure.
As the game’s story moves forward you find yourself moving to different parts of the island through loading screens. I worried about this at first because my experience of Sims games and loading times are not very favourable but I was surprised that each area only took a few seconds to load, probably no longer than an Xbox 360 takes to load a checkpoint in a game. You also have a map available which allows you to transport directly to various areas, rather like the phone in the other games but much quicker.
All in all the story mode takes around 9 hours to complete, there is no real challenge to it as all you’re doing is following orders but it is fun and it makes a change to play the game with a sense of direction rather than just creating a family and watching them age.
For us “hardcore” fans though there is a free play mode included and I tried this briefly with two Sims I created myself in the old “Create a Family” screen but to be honest, it was a little boring. There just didn’t seem to be the attraction there that there is in The Sims 2 and I doubt even the most dedicated Sims players would play this free mode for long before returning back to their beloved Sims 2 game.
Graphically, The Sims Castaway Stories is nothing special. The environments are nice, detailed and enjoyable but compared to other games, the graphics could be smoother and have been updated a little. The audio is pretty much the same as the other Sims games, characters still talk in that non fathomable language but the natural noises around the island are a nice touch.
In conclusion, The Sims Castaway Stories makes a nice diversion from the usual Sims game. Although I don’t think the appeal would last long and I certainly don’t think people will be trading in their Sims 2 game in favour of it anytime soon, it is a good game and worth buying if you’re looking for something a little different based on The Sims theme.
Review Score: 7.4/10
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