The Sims franchise continues to build on the art of storytelling within video games, establishing your virtual family’s legacy based on your decisions alone. While some installments brought something new to the table, others didn’t gain as much success due to their gameplay limitations or outdated graphics. So, to commemorate the series as a whole, here’s our ranking of all Sims games, including spin-offs and the four core installments.
13. The Sims Social
Let’s get real; this is hardly The Sims. It’s an obvious cash grab from the days when Facebook games like Farmville ruled the scene and made their developers tons and tons of money. You had a set amount of energy to do anything, and there were microtransactions galore in order to get more of it. This ensured you were pretty much only playing 30 minutes at a time.
No fan would be content with such little play time in a session, okay? Sure, it was something to tide you over if you were bored at work or school, but it wasn’t a full-fledged experience.
MySims was the Wii owner’s solution to never having The Sims on consoles. However, it was entirely different than what fans of the series would be used to. Most of your time will be spent building random stuff for people around the town, similar to many of the farm simulators of today.
Meeting and befriending others is a big part of the game, yet the rest of what makes the series so great is left out. Nevertheless, if this game doesn’t float your boat, there’s still plenty of other installments to try out within the series (on DS or the Wii), including Kingdom, SkyHeroes, and Racing.
11. The Urbz: Sims in the City
The Urbz: Sims in the City may seem like a fever dream by now, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad game; it’s just… different. While I do not deny that it was an odd choice for the franchise (do you remember that Will.I.Am was in the game?), its story mode consistently kept players entertained with its wackiness and fulfilling task system. Props for all of the city life that would no doubt influence later expansions for the series.
Given that it was available for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, it made Simming much easier thanks to its portable accessibility, which was pretty limited at the time.
10. The Sims Medieval
The Sims Medieval tried something new, being a standalone Sims game set entirely in the Middle Ages. As a queen/king, you’ll set off on quests and raise your kingdom’s glory to either bring peace to the realm or wreak havoc in an ongoing war. Unfortunately, the gameplay falls flat after you’ve completed these tasks, considering the installment’s lack of a story-based structure.
Regardless of this mundane performance, it can still prove enjoyable with its unique perspective. In return, the game felt less god-like and more ruler-like, breathing in a fresh new take on a series that kept the same formula at the time.
9. The Sims Life Stories
The Sims Life Stories features a ton of narrative-based content, from Castaway Stories (eventually getting its own console version) to Pet Stories. These games were not only great for laptop optimization, which made the games less of a pain to play there, but it also made you feel like you were truly experiencing a life from start to finish.
The stories are well-written, fun, quirky, and entertaining — what you would expect from the team that made the game. On top of that, following goals gave a new way to play the series, and while the main attraction of The Sims is the sandbox, it’s nice to be told what to do for a bit.
8. The Sims Freeplay
The Sims Freeplay is basically what drags The Sims Social through the dirt. Although the game features microtransactions, it continues to thrive in popularity due to its easy handling on the go. You’ll do everything you usually do in the games except on your phone and with friends.
Players will have up to 34 Sims to customize in a world filled with many entertainment spots. For instance, you can take a virtual vacation on a private villa beach or get your thrift on at the local mall. Like Animal Crossing, you can visit another user’s Sim Town to expand your universe and possibly get build ideas for your next creation.
7. The Sims Mobile
The Sims Mobile has somewhat similar graphics to The Sims 4 version, which is reasonably impressive for a mobile entry. Compared to Freeplay, Create a Sim showcases more options, including outfits, hairstyles, and body types. You can also personalize your builds with a variety of products, as well as browse through the themed collection for a quick design process.
If you want to experience the fun of multiplayer mode, you can host or attend parties with other players, where you may develop a romantic relationship. And, you can take it a step further by moving into their house (or vice versa) to continue your love story.
6. The Sims Online
Since The Sims Online was the first installment to include a multiplayer system, it was a massive breakthrough for the franchise. Yes, it wasn’t as packed with content as others on this list, but it was something entirely new for the series, differing from the single-player mechanics.
You could meet so many fellow Sim lovers to share your enjoyment of the games or simply talk about random topics with one another. Players could also customize their avatar and home or room with their friends if they wanted to share the space. It was significantly ahead of its time, and it’s about time we appreciate it for all that it managed to do.
5. The Sims 4
The Sims 4 may be the worst one in the main, but it’s still a great game by itself. Polished, no slowdowns, beautiful graphics, and advanced AI — this game really has moved the series forward in a lot of ways. Unfortunately, it took away too many features that had been around for a while now, including open-world maps, story progression, Create-A-Style, and a usable transportation system.
Even if expansion packs can improve the base game, many Simmers believe they are cash grabs and would rather the series move on to The Sims 5 to get the franchise back on the map.
4. The Sims
The game that started it all. The Sims was a ridiculous concept on paper as you watch AI characters live their lives. But when it gets down to it, this installment is so much more than that, allowing you to tell stories in ways you never thought of. It’s a home designer, a character creator, and a social experiment manifested in whatever scenario you can imagine. And, of course, it’s a way to spend so much time being highly entertained.
Playing this one now may be a bit too rough on anyone that’s followed the series, and nostalgia may be the only thing that gets you through a session, but back in the day? This game was everything.
3. The Sims Bustin’ Out
The Sims Bustin’ Out continues to be my favorite installment in the series, showcasing a story progression system with whimsical tasks and a gratifying career pathway. You’ll begin your journey at your mother’s house and work your way up the food chain by advancing your skill levels and objectives.
What I love about Bustin’ Out is the fact that you never stay in the same place, and each house comes with its own unique charm. For instance, those who travel to Dudley’s house will live a more relaxed lifestyle, while the Goth family requires you to exorcise haunting ghosts. In comparison to other games, it just brought more life to these somewhat dull characters, and I hope to see this entertaining progression happen sometime in the future.
2. The Sims 2
The Sims 2 has to be one of the greatest sequels of all time in terms of how much it managed to improve on the original’s formula. So much of the game is entirely different from the first one, and yet, there’s no denying it, this is definitely a Sims game. It introduced neighbors, going out into town, personality traits that matter, wants, goals, and even aging.
It was such an overhaul that brought forth features no one could even dream of, moving the series forward in a huge way. If we were in love with The Sims, the second became an obsession. Whereas the original is too dated by now, you can definitely still go back to The Sims 2 and play up a storm. In fact, some would say it’s basically the model for The Sims 4, except with all expansion packs released.
1. The Sims 3
The crème de la crème; The Sims 3 is definitely the stand-out for the series at number one. Sure, there are technical issues galore, and thankfully, modders have helped out with the slowdowns that can happen. And that’s a good point: This game, with modding alone, is the most superior one.
But let’s get into the vanilla aspects right now. An open world, people. The Sims 3 brought us an entirely open town that you can explore. You can follow your sims to work, send them to the beach, or watch them frolic around. The expansions are also an excellent addition, tweaking the base game with each release.
It truly is such an incredible game, and it was all thanks to EA showing us that there was more to the Sims world than just the house your family was living in. It wasn’t just a fantastic game; it was an entire metaphor for life itself and the world we live in.
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