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January 13, 2004
Sims Bustin' Out - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
19/12/2003EA GamesMaxis1-2 M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
1412KBDolby Pro Logic IIYesNoNoneNo

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Nice choice of head...
Who ever would have though that The Sims would become so big. Certainly EA didn't expect it to become this big when first published. But looking at the Australian PC game charts for the week before Christmas 7 of the top ten titles were related to The Sims. A year ago Electronic Arts released a port of The Sims on PS2 which was fairly well received by both press and public alike. In December 2003 the company has released The Sims: Bustin' Out, an updated version of the game with many new options and features - including online gameplay.

For the three people out there that are unsure what all the fuss is about here is a brief rundown. You control a life. That's essentially it. You control everything about this person, when they sleep, when they go to the toilet, interactions with other (computer controlled) people, your career and, well, your entire life.

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Woo Hoo! Guys win again.
The Sims: Bustin' Out includes a couple of modes of play. The first is Free Play which is much like the PC version in that you create some Sims and then watch them interact with each other. The bulk of the PS2 game is the Bust Out mode which sees you start out, sadly, living with your mum. The purpose of this mode is to move out and build your own life. During the game you will be assigned tasks to complete including succeeding in your chosen career. There are seven career paths in total leading to jobs such as Movie Star, Jock, Mad Scientist, Gangster, Athlete, Paramilitary or Fashion Victim!

Of course having a job means you can purchase new equipment to place in the house. Be it the latest large screen TV, a new light, a big stereo or new sofa. The developers, Maxis, have included around 100 new unlockable objects and social moves. These objects include the Laser Light Show, DJ Booth, Climbing Wall and High Dive while new accessories includes tattoos, do-rags, and piercings. French Kiss, Towel Snap and Moon Walk are just a few of the new social moves. Once again you also spend money "purchasing" a cleaning maid so you don't have to spend your time cleaning up after yourself or Pizza so you don't have to cook.

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Time to party...
During the game you will have to keep an eye on the needs of your Sim. He, or she, needs relationships with other people, adequate rest, entertainment, food, toilet breaks and a clean house to live in. Failure to keep tabs of all these options will create an unhappy Sim, and one which will react accordingly by refusing to work.

Online gameplay was one of the big talking points when this game was first announced at the E3 show last year, but its purpose is somewhat limited. While in this mode you can trade objects with friends, and meet people with similar personalities. But this is a life simulation and the online appeal really is rather limited. If there were thousands of people and hundreds of houses, but as a 2-player online experience it's a little underwhelming overall.

There are some annoyances and issues with the game. The first is the lengthy travel time between locations. This lasts for around a minute or so and is a very obvious loading section for a new location. Surely they could have done something a little more exciting here. Also annoying is the time it takes in a day to complete tasks. Going to the toilet takes 30 minutes, having a bath takes an hour. That's a lot of time wasted in a day. Seriously, how many people take 30 minutes on the toilet - especially without something to read! Another annoyance is the inability to perform multiple tasks at the same time. For instance you can't make your sim cook dinner, but watch TV at the same time for entertainment, nor can you make him (or her) eat dinner while watching TV.

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Yes, this is an exciting game.
Graphically, The Sims: Bustin' Out is somewhat improved from the previous version. The PS2 game still has a major benefit over the PC version in that it is in full 3D. It's possible to rotate around the house and zoom in and out. There are some minor frame rate hitches as you rotate and the PS2 is obviously struggling to keep up at times, but it never distracts from the gameplay due to the slow pace of the game. Animations have been expanded and refined considerably in this game making watching the sims much more enjoyable. The interaction between two sims has also improved considerably.

Audio is also fairly solid. The music can be changed to suit your style with rock, hip-hop and dance on offer among others. The Sims have retained their "Sim Speak" which sound like normal conversions, but is impossible to understand. Don't let that put you off as it is terrific and you can gague the mood of your Sims by their talking.

Although not a full blown sequel The Sims: Bustin' Out offers enough for Sims fans to purchase this title. The inclusion of online gameplay is unnecessary, but still welcome. Everything has been tweaked and added to making this a good starting point for people who have never played the game.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSCertainly improved over last years game - but still requires more.
73%
SOUNDThe range of music is expanded while the Sims chatter remains.
77%
GAMEPLAYGameplay has been improved in most areas - but only just!
89%
VALUEBetter structure task wise, 2-players online isn't overly exciting.
86%
OVERALLThe Sims: Bustin' Out is certainly an improvement over the original port to PS2. The addition of 2-player online gameplay is welcome, but is hardly a benchmark online title. Fans of the series will be happy with the upgrades offered in this version.
82%

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