The Sims FreePlay Overview

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 03:47 PM

The Sims FreePlay Overview
The Sims FreePlay is a mobile game, available on the Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store, and Amazon Apps. It is essentially a simplified version of the The Sims games on the PC. However, the Sims created in The Sims FreePlay are not connected to the PC versions of the game, nor are they tied to your EA account if you have one. This game differs from the rest of The Sims franchise, mostly with its leveling-based mechanics and how quickly (or rather, slowly) time passes in the game.

The game starts out with a tutorial, which lets you create a character, introduces you to the build/buy functions with a few free items and home upgrades, explains the Gardening skill (the plants grow rather quickly, the vegetables/fruits from plants can be sold for quick Simoleons), then prompts you to make another character to fill up a free house lot. Then, you have to make the characters meet and interact with one another, before you get to create a Firehouse (to give your Sims a place to work) and a Park (which raises your town's value).

After completing the tutorial, you are set loose to do almost whatever you want – that is, based on what level you are at. The main goal is to level up your town/characters; each new level unlocks new features and items. To gain experience and level up, you have to complete actions on your Sims, such as going to work, collect experience points from certain buildings at set time intervals in Map View, and/or completing steps in quests. Quests are a series of tasks that unlock or level up things like Hobby skills (ex: Cooking or Fishing). When your Sims complete tasks for a Quest, they gain experience points, occasionally quest-exclusive items, and sometimes Simoleons.

There are four kinds of currencies in The Sims FreePlay: Simoleons, Lifestyle Points, Party Boat/Social Points, and VIP levels. Simoleons (§) are gradually earned in-game, by doing various tasks, including working, gardening, baking, and finishing quest tasks. They are also available from the Daily reward and can be collected from buildings in your town in Map View at certain intervals (for example, your first Sim's house grants 5 Simoleons for every minute that passes). Simoleons are used to purchase furniture, buildings, clothing, and other items, such as upgrades to a building (new floors, etc.). Lifestyle Points (LP) are a harder to earn currency that comes mostly from levelling up as a whole and finishing Hobby collections. A pet can sometimes dig up Lifestyle Points, and they are also available as Party Boat gifts from time to time. Lifestyle Points are used to speed up or instantly complete actions or building construction, or can be used to buy special items. Party Boat/Social Points are earned from connecting the account to social media websites (Google Play or Facebook); connected accounts allows for your Sims to visit neighboring towns to complete social tasks to earn Social Points, and grants gifts on the Party Boat every 24 hours. VIP levels are gained from purchasing things in the Online Store (microtransactions). Gaining VIP levels unlocks or improves exclusive Perks and gives you access to special VIP-exclusive items. Simoleons and Lifestyle Points can be purchased with real money in the Online Store, which in turn increases your VIP points.

The other gameplay mechanic that sets this Sims mobile game apart from the PC version is how time passes in-game – unlike other Sims games, time passes exactly at the same rate as real life time does; you cannot speed up the pace of the game by choice. That means actions such as "Go to Work" (9 hour duration) will literally take 9 real life hours to complete (unless you spend Lifestyle Points to speed up or complete the task instantly). There are all sorts of tasks that take varying amounts of time to complete, for example, planting and growing carrots takes as little as 5 minutes, while one of the Hobby quest tasks for the Cooking hobby, "Search Bookcase" takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

Compared to the PC versions of The Sims, the interactions are extremely simplified, there aren't nearly as many options available for Sim to Sim interactions and interactions with clickable objects (though this should come as no surprise, as this is a game developed for mobile devices). Additionally, until you have the appropriate level and resources to build and unlock the hair salon and clothing shops, the character customization options are woefully limited unless you spend real life money on the exclusive VIP Online Store-exclusive items. Oddly enough, each Sim is only allowed to have one hobby (when trying to use certain items, such as the fishing pole, it pops up a warning about resetting the progress on the current hobby), while on the PC game, your Sim can have multiple, even all of the hobby skills if you want. The one thing I enjoy about this Sims game is the super simplified Gardening skill, which reduces the skill to a one-click step (removing all of the watering, weeding, and fertilizing required in the PC Sims games).

Overall, this game is good for playing in short spurts, perhaps best played a few minutes before work or school, a little bit every few hours or so, and then a little bit more while winding down at the end of the day. If you've only got a few minutes to play, when you start up the game, collect any available experience points and Simoleon rewards (town buildings, daily rewards, etc.), then like a slow-cooker roast, you set your Sim to a task that takes a long time (especially actions like 'Go to Work' and forget it, at least for a while. You can check in on the game every so often throughout the day (during say, coffee or lunch breaks); some town buildings and constructs have an hour or so recharge rate for experience points and Simoleon rewards. Granted, some of the tasks that take several hours (or essentially an entire day) can be shortened or completed entirely by using Lifestyle Points, but to be honest, Lifestyle Points are probably best saved up to spend on special items. The gameplay is slow when you're first starting out (especially if you don't want to spend real money on buying Simoleons or Lifestyle Points), but once you have more than two Sims, gameplay will probably be more interesting and feel quicker paced, especially if you keep two of the three Sims busy with short-term tasks at their homes or interacting with one another, rather than sending every single one of your Sims off to work for 7+ hours at a time.

Additionally, The Sims FreePlay has much more emphasis on socializing with other players compared to the Sims PC games. While the PC Sims games have The Exchange to share player-created (custom) content, and individual profile walls to share 'Memories' and achievements (all of which are optional and don't really add much to the actual gameplay), The Sims FreePlay actively rewards people who connect their accounts to social media, through the Party Boat gifts available every 24 hours and opening up access to Social actions (and points for completing Social actions). If you're into the social aspect of (mobile) games, The Sims FreePlay should definitely be right up your alley.

If you're into very fast-paced games, The Sims FreePlay is anything but, especially if you're starting an account from scratch and don't want to shell out any real life money via microtransactions to speed construction and interactions up in-game. But if you like playing a game a little bit at a time, without any pressure to rush through everything to unlock things (with the exception of limited-time Online Store sales and promotions, and the occasional event update from time to time), this game is ideal for people who like playing games from The Sims franchise, but don't have large chunks of time to sit down and play the PC versions of the game.

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