Way back in 2000 when I first started playing The Sims, the big joke was that Sims players were wasting their time living virtual lives when they could be living their own. That stigma faded over time -- once MMORPGs made it big, there were bigger time wasters to fry.

But The Sims FreePlay [Free] hearkens back to those early days in more ways than one. For one thing, it's more like the original than any of the other mobile titles. For another, this game plays in real time. That means when you take the time to send your Sim off to shower, you really could be doing it yourself. Never before has a game given me such an uncomfortable awareness of my own time-wasting -- but the returns make it feel worthwhile.

By moving the game into real time, players are free to, well, not play on occasion. Freemium titles like this work on timers, and timers have to keep moving while you're away. Since the game is all about micromanaging your Sims lives, imagine a 20 minute day -- step out for an extended lunch in real life, and all your Sims would have starved away to nothing.

Instead, you can pop in to babysit them as little as once or twice a day, or as often as you want. It's a lot like playing The Sims with autonomy turned off: your Sims will do nothing on their own. They will suffer, starve and humiliate themselves if you're not there to care for them. Will they die? I couldn't bring myself to let it go that far. Seeing their tiny, defeated frames as they stood there starving a few steps from a fridge was enough of a heart-breaker.

If you want your Sims to take on gainful employment, you'll need to stop in a bit more often. Jobs also function in real time, so if you're not able to play around, say, 8 am there will be certain jobs you'll want to avoid. It's awkward, but your Sims really don't care -- they lack interests, desires or skills, so one job is as good as the next.

That's the fundamental problem of The Sims FreePlay: if every action is equally good, they all start to feel a bit pointless. You can send your Sim down for a quick nap that takes 4 minutes or a deep sleep that takes 8 hours, and the only difference is the amount of experience you'll earn at the end of it. It's streamlined gameplay that works exceptionally well for a freemium title, but feels a bit pointless when compared to the desktop titles.

Still, as a freemium game The Sim FreePlay works very well. Grinding for experience takes a back seat to entertainment. You can customize your Sims' looks and outfits. You can play with their hearts, setting up love triangles and household-spanning affairs. You can set your Sims to gardening and play Farmville-lite. You can rebuild their homes and decorate with a decent selection of furniture and decor. Playing interior decorator is always my favorite part.

Of course, to buy furniture you need money. Your Sims can earn their simoleons by going to work, selling the fruits of their gardening labor and playing with their pets. Or you can skip all that and just buy them. You can also buy lifestyle points, which can be used to instantly complete timers or purchase some awesome furniture and houses. Lifestyle points can also be earned as you level up and complete missions.

Here's the rub: simoleons and lifestyle points are expensive. The smallest simoleon packs you can buy are $4.99, and give you about enough cash to buy one shop in town. You can do it all yourself instead, but it's going to be a long grind to buy homes to unlock all 16 Sims, open all the shops and build all the workplaces.

If you go into the game looking for the next great Sims title, you'll be disappointed. The game is all surface without much underlying personality. But if you're looking for a new freemium title to sink your teeth into, The Sims FreePlay offers so much fun and variety that you'll barely notice the same old timers underpinning the works. That's no small achievement. If you find yourself as hooked as I am, stop by our discussion thread and share your thoughts.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • http://twitter.com/AhiruDuck Ahiru Nakamura

    looks fun, might give it a try later on!

  • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

    4 stars? OMG, loser Toucharcade get paid for review again....
    This is just another EA fermium garbage, this is not sims, just another farmville with a lot of iAP

    • https://twitter.com/#!/NissaCam Nissa Campbell

      If only. Mighta helped me finish off this Christmas shopping list.

      I like freemium games. I like the Sims. I like The Sims as a freemium game. DWI.

      • http://profiles.google.com/crossmr Matthew Cross

         "The game is all surface without much underlying personality." That pretty much nails it as not remotely 4 out of 5.
        That's pretty much an average game and 2.5 stars at best.

    • Anonymous

      I'm quite enjoying the game. Nice to have 'classic' sims on the go. The fact they complete their chores while I'm not paying attention to them is just gravy!

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        have u guys ever played "classic" sims ( The Sims ) ???
        Because making a freemium sims is like pain in the ass.

        This have NOTHING compare to an old PS2/X-Box console Sims game ( Urbs, Bustin Out, The Sims ).

        Garbage

      • Anonymous

        Obviously you haven't played the same game I did. I always thought the PC version was 'the classic' version. All the new game is doing is giving you the exact number of seconds it will take to complete the task instead of some never ending status bar floating over your heads.

        If you can get your head around the fact that IAP is OPTIONAL, then there's a great game behind that.

      • Cerini

        Give it a rest you tiresome cretin.

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Flesh

        That's a year old comment dumpass

      • Cerini

        You still as angry... dumPass?

    • Cerini

      Calm down. Exactly what do you want for free?

  • Anonymous

    This looks so lame. I don't want to have to check into an app too help my character. LAME!!!!!!!!

  • Eric Lewis

    why can't they just release a normal sims or sims 2 game for the iPad.. none of this garbage of waiting or spending actual money... 

    • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

      Making the original "The Sims" for iPhone is cool, but EA want money, a lot of money for absolutly no innovation and hard work.
      So they started to make freemium games from any title they have, instead of porting some original titles ( Simcity 3000 only ).
      Because there are a lot of retarded, completly idiot who pay for the biggest 100$ iAP and you have to packages for 100! Way more money they aquire from idiots, than making a good game for high price.

      Only thing you can do is making 1 star reviews. Thats all ...

  • Anonymous

    Smartphone gaming is really starting to bum me out... God bless the indie developers who still have enough pride and artistic vision to make great games. But I sure am getting sick of all these freemium titles, motivated by nothing but greed... Is 1983 about to repeat itself?? Will EA be burying millions of digital copies of the Sims in a digital landfill in digital New Mexico??? Ha ha... But seriously, something needs to change here.

  • Anonymous

    I hate freemium so much. 

  • Anonymous

    I wish longer naps gave me more experience :(

  • Tashawn brawner

    Stop whining! The idea of doing this is brilliant. This game will now actually stay on my phone longer. I hate buying games that I beat in a few days. I have a real life and now my Sim's can fit my schedule. I do what I have to do and put the game down. I'm at level 16 and I haven't paid a cent! Complete tasks and get Life Points if you can't wait at times! I save my life points for when I need them (Goal wise).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GTDD5L6WFO3NMNCWLJI6E3TABQ Bailey

    They need to make it for the DROID already!

  • esti retnaningtyas

    i was playing freeplay until level23 and then i open it today but the game start over again on level1. it sucks!!! i dont know what happen til it reset all over again..

  • http://twitter.com/JANETtweeter Janet's Devlinator

    How do you send your sim to work on this one? Please help. Thank you. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/KGVOZPAMVKKP4VWFXAFM2HNUHM amanda

      you have to make sure you have a job built in the game eg artist fire fighter or athlete or politician, then on the briefcase or career icon you have to give a sim a job, then come the next day they will go to work at that time. i dont think they work over the weekends i could be wrong

      • http://www.facebook.com/ninipolite Antonisha Polite

        They do work on the weekends. They don't just go to work you have to be in the game at the time they start and actually send them. This is a good reason to pay attention to the work schedules of the different jobs.

  • Daniel Harper

    I like makeing citys  and play with people

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jackie-Mitchell/100001088155833 Jackie Mitchell

    I'm on level thirteen & their telling me to make four sims artists, but I don't have the gallery created & it says I need twelve sims to create it & it won't let me add anymore sims.. What do I do?

  • adria0409

    To all who downlad this game..

    do not waste your time trying to continue
    the game past a few days.. i played this game for over 2 mnths, I had I
    had 13 houses with 13 people, all building unlocked, park unlocked,
    everything! I continue to complete goals, I even saved up 50 yellow
    diamond coins (dont remember what they are called) which took forever!!
    to buy the RC boat to complete that goal.. next thing i know the goal
    tells me to "buy a new bench, a bench that is worth at least $1,200" so
    in my head i go wow thats easy, i go into menu, garden and oh wow
    look... no bench worth over $1,000... i searched the whole menu of
    options available and there is no bench whatsoever that i can buy to
    complete this goal.
    I continued with the game because I enjoyed it and now there is no
    point to go on!!. This was one of the few games that I paid attention to
    and played on a daily basis. I AM EXTREMELY DISSAPOINTED! :-(
    SimsFreePlay on iPhone/iPad is a waste of time, an update should be made
    to include a bench over $1,200!

    Sincerely,

    Dissapointed User

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1303350288 Niki Miller

      By bench, they actually mean kitchenbench, as in counter top. Mistake in the game

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/VR5BVFDXHNTI623ZYVGOHB7GII 21stCentury

      They updated it & got rid of that goal

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VR5BVFDXHNTI623ZYVGOHB7GII 21stCentury

    You can change the time on your device and it will change on the game, then you can send them to work when you will be gone. I have all mine at work when im at school. I like sims freeplay

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VR5BVFDXHNTI623ZYVGOHB7GII 21stCentury

    I like sims freeplay. Change the time on your device & it will change im the game. Then you can send them to work whenever you want.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ilovepandabears99 Bethany England

    Why cant they make a version of this for the desktop instead of just apple products...

  • Mariegloria

    Need neighbors . Plz ads.
    Mariegloria

  • http://www.morloff.nl/ Marcel van Langen

    Thanks for the nice review. I really like this game. I've also written a review on my own blog (it is in Dutch). Hope I can post it here:

    http://www.ikbeneenipad.nl/blog_item.cfm?blo_uuid=the-sims-freeplay

  • Cerini

    A free game that has some very nice FREE gameplay and features from the PC Sims titles. Why anyone would get all hissy and angry about that I can only guess. Maybe some people just expect everything given to them on a plate these days.

The Sims™ FreePlay Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 4