The Sims Pet Stories

The History of The Sims

Tiny happy people.

The Sims is 10 years old this week! To celebrate, we're dusting off our long look back at the series from the start of 2008, prior to the release of The Sims 3. For the full picture, make sure to check out our more recent reviews of The Sims 3 and The Sims 3: World Adventures. What's "happy birthday" in simlish?

The Sims Pet Stories

The Sims Pet Stories

Close encounters of the furred kind.

Much like The Sims Life Stories, which breezed onto shelves back in February, Pet Stories is another self-contained (i.e. You don't require a copy of The Sims 2 to play it) adventure in Sim suburbia, designed for casual play and laptop friendly to boot. Whereas Life Stories took a more general romantic comedy route with its twin tales of lovelorn Sims struggling to make ends meet, Pet Stories - as the title cryptically suggests - introduces elements from the Pets expansion pack and weaves them into two stories revolving around domesticated animal hilarity.

From a technical standpoint, the game is virtually identical to Life Stories. Keyboard shortcuts mean you can still prompt your Sim to deal with their needs quickly and easily, while laptop players will also benefit from an in-built battery warning, which lets you save your progress if everything is about to shutdown. Similarly, closing the laptop lid automatically pauses the game. The game itself has been streamlined so that it can run in a window, allowing you to check on emails and hold IM conversations during play. Indeed, the game has such a small CPU footprint that it makes you wonder why The Sims 2 and its attendant add-ons can be such a system hog. There's certainly precious little difference in the visuals even though, once unlocked by completing the stories, the freeform mode is basically The Sims 2 minus the expansion capability.

Of course, the fact that Pet Stories is essentially Life Stories with new content means that it must be reviewed almost entirely on narrative criteria. Personally, I find this quite an exciting development - being able to judge the value of a game in the same way you'd judge a film or a book: as, first and foremost, a story. For years the games industry has chased the Holy Grail of "interactive movies" and here, in a rather unlikely fusion of God sim and Machinima, we might have the answer. These may be fluffy distractions aimed squarely at the chick lit reader, but imagine a future in which your Dad is addicted to an ongoing series of Sims stories about an aspiring footballer or where short digitised stories in any genre can be told using these virtual, controllable actors. It's highly unlikely, naturally, but I can't help wondering if the future of casual and accessible games lies in guided narrative and carefully rationed creative freedom. Anyway...

Read more