Save for the abysmal sex-sim Singles, there's not really been any challenger to The Sims in terms of megalomaniac life-control simulators. Presumably this is because of the tremendous amount of work it would take to produce enough assets as well as the difficulties of tying together a 3D world and a mass of behind-the-scenes information, rather than the distaste of most developers for games where you spend most of your time encouraging your naturally filthy avatars to perform their ablutions.
Enter Cliff Harris, stage left. Cliff used to work at Elixir and Lionhead, and has his sim-building principles down pat. Kudos, like his other notable sim Democracy, attempts to do an entire game through just one screen. Democracy was a political climate simulator that produced a series of flow-maps of the effects that different variables (pressure groups, laws, tax-levels) had on each other - resulting in a complicated screen that conveyed a ton of information. Kudos goes down the same route, pooh-poohing the overcomplicated 3D world of the Sims for a single controllable world, a single avatar and a much more British view of life displayed through a single 2D screen.
You start as a poorly-paid waiter with no discernible skills at the age of twenty. You have ten years to turn your life around whilst living in the town of Slough. (We feel obliged to keep in with the Betjeman season so; "come friendly bombs and fall on Slough, It isn't fit for humans now, There isn't grass to graze a cow. Swarm over, Death!") You are seriously dead-end; you have no prospects and few friends. There's no luxury here, no assumption of limitless wealth and the endless cheap land and buildings afforded by the American suburbs; this is good old English degradation, people scraping by on the breadline, just managing to live from day to day, with very few ways out. It's essentially a sink-estate simulator.