The Sims 2: Castaway (Wii) Review
It has been a few years since I last played The Sims. Back then it was about creating a neighbourhood of Sims and attempting to maintain some sanity in that crazy world. After a dozen expansions and reinventions The Sims has undergone another transformation. In The Sims 2: Castaway you throw away to shackles of buying land, building a house and keeping a job. Though there is still a lot of land present, after a shipwreck you and your crew are washed ashore to survive the wilderness. Only together can you survive and only with teamwork will you be able to find a way back home.
The game begins with a series of snapshots of your party aboard a yacht. Watching this short introduction will make you ponder why they even bothered, as the yacht mysteriously appears to just topple over without any explanation. Im sure its not that important but would it have been so hard to have included a little bit of effort in the games introduction. The character builder is almost as you may remember it, allowing you to alter a characters face, clothes and accessories, if not incredibly restricted. Making the character builder even more difficult to use is an inability to preview certain changes and blurry visuals that take you back to the stone age of gaming.
By placing you on an island the game does away with building a house in the traditional sense and introduces new elements to the game that while clever never actually work as a complete package. To begin your new life your Sim has to collect resources around him. Early word of advice would be to do the tutorial or else youll run about famished, sleep deprived and aching for a toilet break. After you have completed a set amount of tasks your Sim will enter the islands jungles and from there your adventure will begin.
While the game does do away with the usual formula you still build houses and maintain a healthy, social environment for your Sims. The Wii handles this process very well by allowing you to plant, twist and spin items such as rooves, walls and furniture. While there are no electrical appliances you can rest assured that beds, tables, chairs and other fancy ornaments make a return. To construct these items your Sims must continue to collect resources from trees, vines and shrubs. Throughout the world youll discover ship ruins that will be littered with resources and occasionally a message in a bottle will wash ashore. These act as a mere distraction and dont actually equate to anything in the long run.
The overall objective of the game is to signal your rescuers and to find a way back home. This is done by completing a series of small tasks, all found in the Goals book. Aside from your main quest there are secondary tasks such as befriending servant monkeys. Along the way you will find collectibles that again have little overall impact on your adventure. There is certainly a lot of depth to the game, with motives and skills making a return. The motives dictate the mood of your characters. Have them living in holes and theyll probably by crying or shouting abuse at you. Place a roof over their heads and rest assured theyll start to act a bit more cheerier. Skills enhance certain abilities of your Sims such as cooking, buildings and crafting items. The higher the skill points the better and more efficient the Sims will be. Castaway introduces a plethora of new game play mechanics to the been here done that formula but the issue is that the mix of adventure and simulator never quite do well together. Youll be juggling between collecting resources and keeping your Sims from rioting in a mundane, tedious manner. The good news is you can set your Sims to go about on there own accord and concentrate on building a utopia if that takes your fancy.
The Wii has had to endure a series of poorly ported games as well as the atrocity that was Far Cry Vengeance. While not a graphics power house games like Resident Evil and Super Mario Galaxy have proven that there is a little more under the hood than most developers are taking full use of. Castaway looks impressive on the box but in motions it is riddles with bland landscapes, jagged models and poor animations. The game has graphical similarities to the earliest Gamecube games but when considering Castaways intended audience it is not so hard to believe that corner were cut and the decision to neglect the graphics engine was made. However as the Wii comes into its second year the chances of a game getting away with this level of neglect will not be looked upon by gamers as kindly.
Simple music is assured that will calm the senses and remind you of what it would be like to be lost on an island. The constant, no sensible whining of your Sims who have yet to learn English even after ten years will remind you when its time to stop neglecting your family. You wont walk away impressed but you wont have any urge to press the mute button either.
The controls, with any Wii game, should be the main focus to how the game is played. Some have it tacked on, others use it cleverly, some dont bother at all and are better for the lack of experience. In Castaway the Wiimote brings you one step closer to controlling the game as if you were playing it on your PC compared to its rivals. The menus are selected with the Wiimote however placement of buildings objects and your Sims is controlled by the nunchuck. Youll find no fault in the controls and they may actually come to aid in your progression to save the Sims from a life of solitude and loneliness.
The games adventure mode can be completed over a weekend but its central focus of maintaining a Simful life on an island can last a lifetime, until the next expansion. While the visuals and patchy mix match of adventure elements to simulation elements may turn off some gamers if you or someone you know loves The Sims then youll guaranteed to feel the excitement of being lost on an island and starting anew, without the black mist and Others.
+ Retains The Sims touch
+ Lengthy adventure
+ Even lengthier simulator mode
– Poor visuals that are akin to early Gamecube games
– Odd and sometimes boring mix match of gameplay elements
– Very strenuous
– No real achievement for finishing the adventure