The Sims: Bustin' Out
As much as I’ve grown tired of the Sims franchise, I have to give Maxis props for introducing some refreshing gameplay elements in the non-PC versions. The console versions were excellent as they provided the same core gameplay while giving players objectives to strive for. Earlier this year Maxis delivered a portable version of the Sims that took an entirely different approach to the franchise. Instead of being a people simulator, the company introduced an adventure game that fed off of the franchise’s elements. It was a pretty successful endeavor that provided plenty of entertainment for portable-minded gamers. Now EA and Maxis have ported the Sims over to the Nokia N-Gage with similarly successful results.
As I stated earlier, the portable versions of the Sims are a huge deviation from the franchise. The core concepts are still in place (such as the meters) but the interaction and gameplay is different. For starters, the way you can only assume control of player throughout the course of the game and the control mechanism has changed. Instead of utilizing the cursor-based system that appeared in other Sims titles, Bustin’ Out lets you take direct control of your character. This is a refreshing change for the franchise as you don’t have to wait for that pause between the time you give the command and the moment that the Sim executes it. Interactions with other Sims have also changed as well. When chatting with other Sims the game shifts to a conversational screen where you can choose your responses and interaction. How you respond to the Sim dictates how well your relationship progresses with them. The system works well but it takes a little out of the experience. You can choose to hug or kiss the other Sims but you don’t get to physically witness the action. It’s no big deal but sometimes it’s fun to watch the Sims interact instead of just reading what happened.
Instead of being a free-roaming life simulator, Bustin’ Out takes on the form of an adventure game. You’ll still be able to build a pad and you’ll still have to baby-sit those motive meters, but you’ll be given tasks and objectives to accomplish now. Finishing these tasks will earn you cash, the ire of your fellow Sims and mini-games that you can partake in to earn more money. In order to progress you’ll need to finish these tasks. Of course you can always just mess around and do things on your own accord. There’s no pressure on the gamer to accomplish the task, just the notion that bigger and better things lie ahead.
Running around town can be overwhelming at first, but as you get accustomed to it navigating becomes pretty simple. Initially you’ll probably be under whelmed by the town as only a few areas and shops are available. Play for a few hours, however, and you’ll realize just how massive the area is. It has all of the amenities of a large city including a hospital, a science lab and an oceanfront. In fact, it’s so large that you’ll need a moped to navigate across the terrain in the latter stages of the game. Not only will the town grow, but you’ll grow as well. You’ll soon move out of your uncle’s barn and into a schawnky clock tower which you can decorate and furnish.Bustin Out features superb animation that is clean and fluid. All of the characters move and behave realistically, providing a game that is easy on the eyes. Most of the environments look pretty nice as well and feature plenty of intricate details. It truly is surprising to see animation this fluid on a handheld. The vibrant colors are really help matters as well.
I’m a huge audiophile but one area that has never been to grasp my attention is portable gaming. Most of the audio in GBA games is awfully and the N-Gage falls into that realm as well. So imagine my surprise when I found myself absolutely falling in love with the music in Bustin’ Out. Maxis managed to port over many of its signature tracks from the PC version with excellent results. I especially love the lawn mowing music; the encoding is just superb,
If you’re looking for differences between the GBA and N-Gage version there aren’t many. The N-Gage version features a cellular phone which allows you to call other Sims and play emulated games. I’ll admit that the ability to call Sims whenever you want is pretty nice. In the GBA version you had to find a landline (either a payphone or a house phone) in order to get in touch with others. Here you can simply press a button and have the rest of the town at your fingertips. As for the additional games; they’re the generic games that came bundled on the last-generation digital phones. Think of Snake and you have a pretty good idea of what to find here.
Nokia’s handheld has been lacking what it needs the most; true portable games that can be played on the go. Console ports are nice, but those titles were designed for the comfort of a living room, not the hustle and bustle of a busy subway. This is what Bustin' Out provides you with, an excellent game that is deep, but not too complicated as to tie you up when you’re playing on-the-go. If you own an N-Gage this is one of the premiere titles to own. It’s not perfect but it’ll definitely keep you interested for 20 or so hours.
If Bustin' Out is any measure of what we can expect from future N-Gage titles, we might be in for a treat. It's not a perfect title, but it's just what the system needed; an on-the-go game that's fun to pick up and play.
Rating: 8.2 Good
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.
It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.
It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.
When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."
As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.
When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.
Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile