The Sims Life Stories

March 5, 2007

Whether you like The Sims or not, there’s no denying the kind of effect it’s had on the gaming world. One of the best-selling series on the PC and in gaming as a whole, there seems to be no stopping The Sims war machine as it pumps out expansion-after-expansion for fans to gobble up. Trying to further capitalize on the series, EA has now introduced The Sims Stories, a collection of stand-alone games focused for play on laptop computers, with the first of the series being The Sims Life Stories. It’s nice that EA has begun to adapt the popular series to customers with laptops, and with controls that have been specialized for laptops, Life Stories is right at home with the portable crowd. Unfortunately, you might not be able to shake the feeling that the game feels like a watered down version of The Sims 2. Laptop owners may want to look into The Sims Life Stories, but regular PC owners will probably want to stick with The Sims 2.

There are two concepts at work in The Sims Life Stories. The first is like the title suggests: a focus on storytelling. There are two storylines that you can play through, along with the standard open-ended Sim-mode. The second concept is that the game is optimized to run on laptop PCs. The game controls are specialized to work around the setback of the touchpad mouse controls by controlling the camera with the WASD keys as well as setting hotkeys to work with Sim interactions. The game works in a closed window rather than taking up the whole screen, allowing you to run the program in the background while listening to music or chatting with Instant Messenger. It also automatically pauses when you close the laptop and starts right back where you left it when you open it, and it even contains a battery indicator in the options menu, making Life Stories very user friendly to laptop users.

The two storylines are the main points of interest in Life Stories. The first story follows Riley Harlow as she moves back into the neighborhood, while the second story, which you unlock after playing into the first, is about millionaire woman-less Vince Moore. Each have their own focuses, but they both eventually end up being about finding a life for the starring character. The storytelling is different from the mode seen in The Sims 2, where you essentially craft stories from your own imagination. Here, the story plays out as you complete actions that further the story, and things boil down to playing a chapter of the story each day. Though you can take your time and wait a few days to play the next chapter.

Each story lasts roughly three hours at the least. That is without taking breaks or getting distracted by outside forces. The storylines themselves are fairly involving if you’re into that kind of thing, but if you got into The Sims just to play around with the little guys (like, say, catching them on fire), then you probably won’t be as captivated by the stories. The people who might get the most out of these stories are the people who enjoyed making up their own little worlds in The Sims 2 with the storybook mode, although even then, those same people might find it more rewarding to make their own families and craft their own stories than play through the mostly predictable main storylines. I will say that Vince’s story ends fairly interestingly, though.

Life Stories also includes the standard Sim-mode that is near identical to the one seen in The Sims 2. The only difference is that the options are slightly more limited to keep requirements down. For instance, you only have access to a single neighborhood that seems a bit more compact than the ones from The Sims 2. Besides that, though, things are mostly identical. It would have been nice to have some exclusive items to Life Stories, but most of the Buy Mode items remain unchanged, excluding even any seen in the numerous expansion packs. There are some brand-new items that are unlocked through story mode, however, so that’s something.

The biggest draw of Life Stories is that it doesn’t need much to run it, making it great for laptops. No video card is required, and with the other laptop friendly features mentioned earlier, The Sims Stories line seems to aim itself at a somewhat new market. However, doing all this essentially leaves those with PCs out of things, as Life Stories doesn’t have much for PC gamers that The Sims 2 hasn’t already achieved. The A

Score: 2/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.