By Brad Cook
Riley and Vince: A study in contrasts. Rileys life was on an upward trajectory in Sim City, until she lost her job and had to move to Four Corners and live with her aunt Sharon. Vince is a successful high-tech entrepreneur in Bitville with a beautiful house and great friends, but hes been unlucky in love. They may live in different towns, but each has what the other wants, and only through their interactions with other Sims can they finally achieve happiness.
The Sims Life Stories takes the tried-and-true formula found in The Sims 2 and distills it into Rileys and Vinces stories, allowing you to chart their lives as you apply your own twists to their tales. While the interface is the same one youre used to, the emphasis is now on following the 24 chapters in their sagas, making the important decisions that form crucial relationships with other Sims and fulfill their goals, such as finding a job or getting a hug from another Sim. Each character has a journal where they record their achievements, and a between-chapter text piece explains where the story is headed next.
In addition to streamlining the gameplay mechanics by introducing keyboard shortcuts for important commands and making relationship development easier, Life Stories was designed for quick sessions. The game runs in a window, allowing you to check email and surf the web while playing, and its graphics were optimized to run on laptops, so you can take Rileys and Vinces drama anywhere. Life Stories even features a laptop battery indicator.
Plenty to See and Do
Life Stories doesnt mesh with The Sims 2 and its expansion packs, but it offers plenty of its own content, with more available for download. Bitville and Four Corners both include community lots where Riley and Vince can go shopping, work out at the gym, enjoy a nice meal, and, of course, meet other Sims. Riley and Vince can also get to know their neighbors while hanging around their homes, building amorous and platonic relationships in the process.
Sims in Life Stories earn special rewards as they achieve their goals. Youll find those objects in their inventory panels; you can drag them to the appropriate spot in their homes, or leave them there for easy retrieval later. Riley and Vince start their stories with cell phones that make communication with other Sims easier when theyre visiting community lots.
As in The Sims 2, you can enter Buy mode and purchase new objects for your Sims with the currency known as Simoleons, as well as construct and furnish new homes from the neighborhood view. When youre done with Rileys and Vinces stories, enter Free Play to take control of other characters in the game, all of whom have their own unique relationship dynamics but whose lives dont unfold along a specific narrative path. You can also create new Sim families and move them into an empty house to start your own stories.
Nothing Simple is Ever Easy
My first day in Four Corners was both exciting and unsettling, Riley says in her diary as the first chapter of her story comes to a close. First my crazy aunt decides to get up and go not five minutes after I arrive. After freshening up a bit, I met a few of the locals.
While she didnt know what to make of Fiona, who gave her a coffee machine straight out of an infomercial, she hit it off right away with Mickey, who starts dropping by to visit nearly every day after that. You wont find it hard to develop a relationship with him, but the trick is keeping their interest in each other alive while crazy aunt Sharon does her best to keep both of them on their toes.
Rileys story wont be easy to bring to a conclusion, nor will Vinces, but is anything ever simple with The Sims? Of course not, and thats what Life Stories is all about.
Check out our systems for your best gaming experience.
If you liked this game, check out:
- The Sims 2
- The Sims 2: Nightlife expansion pack
- The Sims 2: Open for Business expansion pack
- The Sims 2: Pets expansion pack
- The Sims 2: Seasons expansion pack
- The Sims 2: University expansion pack
- The Sims 2 Family Fun Stuff
- The Sims 2 Glamour Life Stuff
- The Sims 2 Happy Holiday Stuff
- Mac OS X version 10.3.9 (10.4.8 recommended)
- 1GHz Intel or PowerPC G4 processor (1.8GHz recommended)
- 256MB of RAM (512MB recommended)
- 32MB video RAM (64MB recommended); GeForce FX5200 or ATI Radeon 9000 or better video card, or Intel GMA 950 chipset
- 3GB hard disk space
- DVD Drive
Cheat If You Must
Life Stories uses many of the same cheat codes found in The Sims 2. As in that game, hold down the Control, Shift, and C keys at the same time to open the cheat code box. Type a code and press Return to activate it. To quickly return to a previously-entered code, press the up arrow. To stop entering cheat codes, type exit.
Note that you shouldnt use a comma in any codes that ask for a number.
motherlode get 50,000 Simoleons
kaching get 1,000 Simoleons
unlockcareerrewards unlock all of the selected Sims career rewards
aspirationpoints(#) replace # with a number (but keep the parentheses) to give the selected Sim that many aspiration points
aging off keep all Sims on the lot from aging; type aging on to restore it
maxmotives max out the motives for all of the Sims on the lot
aspirationlevel(#) replace # with a number between 0 and 5, with 0 dropping the selected Sims aspiration meter into negative territory and 5 maxing it out
slowmotion # replace # with a number between 0 and 8 (keep the space after slowmotion, but dont worry about any parentheses), with 0 being the slowest game speed possible and 8 being normal game speed