The Sims series is so popular and successful that I finally decided I had to see what the fuss is all about. I came into the game with no previous Sims experience, and to be honest very little at all with simulation games altogether. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and more importantly, whether or not I’d find the game enjoyable.
Okay here we go!
From launching the game I was taken straight away to Create-A-Sim. All very simple and thankfully easy to use, with tons of customization possible including “shaping” using your mouse, making it possible to create whoever you want. A neat feature that I discovered here was that you can save your Sim – or even Household if created a family – to this online Gallery in-game where other fellow Simmers can download your creations, also allowing you to do the same with theirs. I was very impressed with this and even spotted some Sims based on real-life celebrities that made me laugh!
After spending far too much time trying to create a virtual me (perfectly normal I’m sure!) you’re then directed to choose where your Sim or Household will be living. You have two options here, either a pre-made home or an empty lot. I chose the empty lot – a decision I quickly regretted! While it’s a lot cheaper to buy a empty plot of land, it does requires you to actually build – yikes! Luckily there is a tutorial in “build-mode” explaining the new features to Sims veterans, as well as some basics tips for beginners, but I still found myself lost despite the slightly irritating tutorial pop-ups every second. When I finally got my head round the building basics and created myself a block to live in, I was just feeling frustrated and already questioning whether the game was right for me.
Developer: Sports Interactive
Genres: Management, Simulation, Strategy
Released: Late October/Early November each year
I’m going to start off by saying that it’s without a doubt one of my most played games, with an embarrassing amount of hours spread across the four editions I’ve been hooked to. I’ve faithfully been purchasing Football Manager each year since discovering it in 2010 after growing bored of FIFA and PES (yes I played that!) and decided I might have more luck with a more strategic football game in Football Manager.
I thought I’d try to review the Football Manager game as a whole, instead a review for just the most recent version, FM14. I think I can get away with this as at least since discovering the series with FM11, while there are plenty of new features to justify purchasing the latest edition, the games always follow the same structure and ideas.
The Stockport fans wildly celebrating a goal against Barnsley with a flare
Developer: Naughty Dog
Genres: Action, Adventure, Horror, Survival
Released: 14th June 2013
I think I need to make it clear straight away that horror is a genre I’ve always disliked. Excessive gore and jump scares should just be banned! Anyway, I’ve just been unable to ignore The Last of Us after seeing it become so critically acclaimed. I decided that I’m going to have to set aside my fears and look further into the game.
Resisting the urge to just simply read the plot on Wikipedia – please never ever do this! – I considered that I had to either purchase myself a copy or find a “Let’s Play” on YouTube. Both have their disadvantages to me. Firstly by playing the game I’d be able to enjoy the game at my own pace, but I’d no doubt be put in situations I’d really rather not be in. By finding a play through I’d let someone else struggle through the game, but it may come along with an unwanted commentary that’d distract my attention or just too much failing that would disrupt the flow of the plot.
Developer: Shining Rock Software
Genres: City-builder, Management, Strategy
Released: 18th February 2014
Banished was not what I expected – well to be honest I’m not sure what I was! I’m a little inexperienced in this certain mix of genres, with the Tropico series – which are certainly not survival games! – and perhaps the Age of Empires games being the closest I’ve played. Deciding to go straight in thanks to the soothing background music boosting my confidence, my village lasted till the first winter where my people all perished from the cold.
This clearly wasn’t the ideal way to begin, but I picked myself up and have been improving with each new attempt. I’m now settled with my current save, so far surviving 147 years with a town that fills the map. With this in mind, I highly recommend that you play the game without the guidance of others, and use any failings to discover solutions by yourself, for a much more rewarding experience.
Who uses tutorials anyway?!
Guild Wars 2 is the newest released game featured in my “Battle of MMOs” review series. This is indeed quite an advantage, but visually I consider it to be the best looking MMO out there, with the in-game vistas begging you to pause to admire the detail and epicness. Like the first Guild Wars, it is just a one time purchase, with no subscription required like RuneScape or World of Warcraft. Sadly as a big fan of the original series, it has introduced a lot of change, and not all of which is an improvement in my opinion. This isn’t to say it’s not enjoyable; there are many positive aspects to the game which they achieved better than its predecessor, and the non subscription means that I’ve kept it installed and can easily return to Tyria whenever I get that urge.
Equipment: Plenty of customization possible, including unlimited use of dyes once collected
I think having a story in an MMO is important – it gives players something to distract themselves from the expected grindy nature of the genre. In GW2, the plot takes place 250 years after the end of the original series, and features a much changed world having been the victim of the now awakened Elder Dragon’s destruction. The story involves uniting the major (playable) races to put aside their differences, to form a pact to combine all their strength to fight back against these Elder Dragons before it’s too late.
While I don’t find the story as engaging as I found Guild Wars, it’s still interesting. You play an active part on how you wish to proceed with many different paths to choose, something uncommon in MMOs. Perhaps my reason for not being as hooked to the story is how you need to be a certain level to be able to progress. This is fair enough – it’d be silly if you could complete the main story as a noob – but the original series did have a much lower level cap of 20, meaning the story flowed quicker and felt more like you were exploring new areas to fit with the plot, than in the sequel where I found it felt more of a side, instead of the focus.
World: Currently 27 massive zones to explore and 6 impressive cities
World of Warcraft is a name that everyone will be familiar with after being one of the most popular MMOs on the market for many years now. This addictive game has seen numerous expansions added since first launched in 2004 and is consistently attracting new players to see what all the fuss is about. It is quite an expensive game to play, with the newest expansions required to keep up with the world and a comparatively high subscription fee to pay monthly – something competitors such as Guild Wars 2 lack. But is it worth it?
Classes: A wide variety of fighting styles to check out
Well in short, of course. The game has good reason for its popularity! Its addictive nature certainly drew me in, and must have been the only game I played throughout 2010. The developers, Blizzard, have been adding expansions to keep the game fresh since its release, “The Burning Crusades” (2007), “Wrath of the Lich King” (2008), “Cataclysm” (2010), “Mists of Pandaria” (2012), and shows no signs of stopping with the announcement of the upcoming fifth expansion “Warlords of Draenor”.
These expansions have added huge continents to explore, new races to try out, increased level caps and a major environmental redesign to the existing world with the Cataclysm release. A pretty neat move by Blizzard is their recent decisions to provide the first three expansions as part of the base game to new players. Perhaps necessary but still their choice, I think it will further entice new gamers to join now you don’t need to spend money on so many expansions, as this may have been a previous put-off.
Guild Wars is pretty special to me. It must be one of my most played games having staying in the world for almost six years from the 2006 release of the campaign “Factions” to the release of the sequel Guild Wars 2 in 2012. I’m very thankful that it doesn’t have a monthly subscription like other MMO rivals such as World of Warcraft – so it luckily didn’t bankrupt my younger self!
Character creation: Great in-depth customization
The Guild Wars series features three campaigns, “Prophecies”, “Factions”, “Nightfall”, and one expansion called “Eye of the North”. They each have their own engaging story and vast maps to explore. When creating your character you have to choose which campaign you wish to start in. Each campaign has a different story and is set on a different continents. This therefore impacts the background of your character with each continent having their own ethnic feel. Your choice also decides the first starting steps and early quests before you are free to travel among the continents.
The expansion is different as it is simply more of an add-on. It complements the existing content with new skills, weapons, armour, and the Hall of Monuments (a place to show off all your achievements). Eye of the North seemed the perfect way to end the series giving players the chance to prepare for the upcoming sequel by filling your Hall of Monuments with collectibles and titles, providing points towards unlockables that can be redeemed in the sequel.