Here’s how it looks on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, except it looks sharper. Apologies for the lack of professional photo equipment.
For those who cannot get enough of The Sims, there is now a new and better Sims game for Android. And it is completely free, well if you don’t have connection charges (it connects to a server occasionally). Oh, and if you are patient and not too impulsive. But it can be free. It is for me. Then again, I don’t drink.
There are certain minimum requirements, and the game will not install without them. I would recommend a tablet or a really big screen, honestly, because there is a lot of detail and you would have to zoom in quite a bit on a small screen. Luckily, you can zoom in and out and rotate with the usual controls – the tutorial should also show you this.
The Sims Freeplay can be downloaded for free from Google Play (formerly known as Android Market). It gets you started right away with a tutorial which continues far into the game, giving you ever new goals. Goals again give you some kind of reward when fulfilled. However, some of the goals also require some expense (in-game, not on your credit card) to fulfill.
Already in the tutorial you will learn about the “Lifestyle Points”, which you get from time to time by fulfilling goals or leveling up. (Yes, the game has experience points and levels like a role playing game.) These Lifestyle Points can be used to hurry a project. For instance, each time you add a building to your town, it will not only be more expensive than last time, but also take more time. By throwing in LPs, you can finish immediately. If you run out of them, you can buy them for real dollars through the game interface. The developers probably hope that people will either lend the tablet to their kids without warning them, or else playing when drunk. Warning: these things are expensive.
What you will NOT be harassed to do is recruit your friends. There is no friend requirement whatsoever to play the game, although you can in the most recent versions of the game log into Facebook (of all places – why not Google+? Android is a Google product, you guys). Once there, you can supposedly do social things on a houseboat in the game. The YouTube trailer seems to imply that the social activity largely consists in your sims wiggling their butt. Or perhaps that’s just what I remember. I don’t have any Facebook friends who play the game, to the best of my knowledge, so apart from a small daily gift the social boat does nothing for me. If you are my Facebook friend and want to wiggle your simulated butt to tinny electronic music in this game, I’ll try to help; but I’m not really a social person.
What you can do without friends however is built small homes for your sims, create more or less random sims (small computer people) and dress them up, and direct them around their homes doing various things. Like using the toilet or gardening. Pretty much every interaction will give XP, which helps you level up. The game as a whole levels up, not the individual sim. Also, all of the households share the same money, unlike in the normal Sims game. So you can earn money in one house and spend it in another.
The easy way to earn money is buying a garden plot and grow vegetables. At least in the early levels of the game, the income depends on how much you are willing to click. The vegetables that take a half hour to grow give more money than the ones that take five minutes to grow, but they don’t give six times more. If you can be bothered to click six times as often, you can get noticeably more profit. I assume that after a few dozen clicks you will have second thoughts, though, unless you have an extremely boring life otherwise. (There is even a 30-second vegetable, if you are extremely trigger-happy. It is also free to plant, which is nice if you have somehow wasted all your virtual money. Not that I would know, would I?)
Once you have built a workplace in town, you can send your sims off to work and earn money and XP that way. This also has the benefit that they will rise in their career over time, earning more and more money and XP per hour. Be warned however that everything in this game takes real time. For instance, I built the science building, which gives a pretty nice pay. It so happens that I can send my sims off right before I clock in at my own workplace, and they will finish around the time I arrive on my own bus home! Most people start earlier in real life than I do, however, and unless they think playing this game at work is OK, there is no point in having a science building: You cannot program your sims to do some action in the future, and they have no free will worth talking of. So you need to access the game in the hour before their virtual workplace opens, to send them there. They will go home on their own though.
Don’t despair if you don’t find any workplace with suitable working hours (although there probably is one – each workplace has different hours). After a few levels you will unlock vegetables with a roughly work-like time span, like 10 hours, which should keep them occupied all through your workday if you are European. Americans may want the 12 hour option, from what I hear. Poor folks. I wonder if we should boycott products made with unpaid overtime. It is kind of like slavery, isn’t it?
The sims, to get back on track, certainly don’t require much attention for their own needs. For those of us used to the original Sims games, it is amazing that the small computer people can go a whole day without needing to visit the toilet. They can also go a long time without eating. But over time their need bars do fall, and you should check them from time to time. The sims will get XP from filling their needs too, after all.
One element from the original games is that more expensive objects take less time to fulfill needs. So if you sleep in a more expensive bed, you can sleep an hour less and be just as rested. In addition, you get more XP for using expensive objects. So that is an encouragement to earn more simoleons (the sims currency). Simoleons are also needed to buy houses for new sims. The new sims can help earn money, but at some point the cost of getting a new sim house is more than the new sim can earn in quite some time.
Your first household comes with a free dog. You can buy dogs for your other households if you want to. They will once a minute or so find a place where something is buried on the lot. Click on them and they will dig up money, or occasionally some other treasure. Supposedly they can even find Lifestyle Points. I generally have enough other hobbies to not watch over an imaginary dog every minute. Your hobbies may vary, as may your attitude to dogs.
In the end, I don’t see myself sticking with this game. The reason is that time cannot be frozen. If you leave the sims alone for a day, their status bars (hunger, bladder, energy etc) will have declined quite a bit. At this speed, they should starve to death over the course of a long weekend or so. I don’t really want to play a game that I can’t put away for a week or a month to concentrate on other interests. I haven’t yet let it alone long enough to say whether the sims die a slow and agonizing death or just get really grumpy, but I dislike this situation on principle.
Apart from that, it seems a pretty harmless game. If you want to hide from reality in an imaginary world, this seems a good place to do so.