Retro Monday: “The Sims: Bustin’ Out”

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Title: “The Sims: Bustin’ Out

Developer: Maxis

Publisher: EA

Released: December 2003

New Year is the time where people talk about new beginnings so why not talk about a simulation game. How about THE simulation game? And by that, I mean the second console port. “The Sims: Bustin’ Out” was a console port of the Sims back in the era when Maxis thought it was a good idea to port a game built and designed on the PC and put it on the already dated PlayStation 2.

Just by that short opening you can probably tell the game was bad. But you may also know from last year’s Mondays that I don’t like simulation games. But I will play a special card: The “My Sister” card! I could play other, but the same, cards but I should explain the cards. My sister and many other people, who turn out to be women, play the Sims on the PC. At some point, they have played Bustin’ Out, either by behest or force of relationships, and even they call it bad! Now it is time to explain why holding that opinion is right.

The Sims” on the PC is a very open world. You make a person, are given a plot of land and money (Sorry, Simmolions) and let off the leash. You can do what you want to the point of putting your sim in a 1 metre by 1 metre windowless room, watch them piss themselves and stare to death (oh yeah, like you haven’t done that!) or you can help them prosper, have partners and give them anxiety issues. In comparison, the port is strictly confined. The main way is through its story. Yes, I said story. A plot was shoehorned in to the game with the default characters from the PC version. And because of the plot, all the good stuff is locked behind a campaign/objective wall. Well, it’s more like a career wall. You unlock most of the stuff by advancing in particular careers. This only means that you have to get to the top of every career to unlock everything. On top of that, you unlock stuff by getting married and having a kid and getting rid of the kid via private school.

Considering the game came around a few years in to the PS2 cycle, there are a few limitations. There is less stuff in the game, but that’s understandable and somewhat forgivable. No installs mean that what’s on is the only thing that can be played. During the era of DVD disks and multi-disk installs for the PC, it’s going to be limited and it was. But the ability to make multi-story houses went too, so every house became a bungalow. Considering during the campaign, in the later level houses there are two permanent resident sims on top of your character, plus a made-up spouse (because you’re not allowed to marry the stock sim) and a made-up kid. So at some point there could be as many as 5 sims in the same house and they could afford to put in a few more items or program in a 1st floor.

As it’s on the PS2, you have to save on the memory card. And as with the PC it is a massive save file. The old memory cards on the PS2 were around 8mb per card. The “Bustin’ Out” saves file takes up anywhere between 1 – 2mb on the card, so a huge chunk of the card is taken up. Considering games like “GTA 3” and “Vice City,” both (arguably) more processor intensive and larger maps, managed to have smaller save files and came out before. People can argue that Bustin’ Out’s graphics where a higher quality and close to PC quality at the time. I just think that’s a problem with the game. While other game like the aforementioned GTA games where styling the game to get around the graphic limitations, Maxis just went with ‘it must be like the PC!’ and starting cutting stuff out which is bad.

I’m not usually the guy that touts PC superiority because calling something “master race” gaming or whatever is stupid (in my opinion) beyond all comparison, but with “The Sims,” just play it on PC!  So much stuff was cut out on the Play Station version that it’s like “The Sims: Diet Edition.”  It forces you to play every career and still finds ways to be limiting. Although, looking at how EA is these days, that might have been their business strategy. In that case, EA made what they wanted. A £40 game with less stuff than what it is being ported from by a huge margin, banking on that people will buy because of the brand.

Retro Score: 2

Modern Score: 2

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