12th Feb 2003 | 15:34
Do you believe in the little people?
Dark forces beyond our control have let it be known that the Sims are real. Those seemingly innocuous computer sprites actually exist, and are about to take over the world. Having invaded every PC on the planet, their focus has now turned to the unsuspecting console gamer.
If they succeed in ensnaring PS2-loving people everywhere (or 'Largies', as they call us), we are all doomed to spend our days hunched over a TV screen, transfixed by these tiny characters as they seemingly do our bidding. Powerless to perform even the most simple of tasks such as washing and dressing, we will be entirely in their thrall, not to mention smelly and naked. They can then suck our brains.
Why is this game so dangerous? Firstly, the Sims have been cunning. They knew that to capture the hearts and minds of console owners they'd have to change the structure of their PC game. They've achieved this by simplifying the controls in a devilishly efficient way. Most of the commands can be made with just one click, and the left analog stick works like a dream.
Secondly, the Sims realised that the open-ended PC experience would need to be refined for console fans used to more dynamic and immediate gameplay. The introduction of the episodic Get A Life mode is a masterstroke and the major weapon in the arsenal of our tiny adversaries. Creating your Sim, and guiding him or her from living with 'Mom' towards the ultimate goal of 'larging it' (their words, not ours) in the biggest mansion on the block is a fiendishly addictive experience. Only the most strong-willed will be able to resist.
How you can stop this
Our secret spies tell us that the Get A Life portion of the game is the first ever Sims game that you can actually win. But with only seven levels your experience, however addictive it is, may be over too quickly, and it's possible that you won't be captivated to the same frightening degree by the more traditional Sims game also included in the package.
While The Sims still works better than expected on the PS2, it lacks the long-term appeal of the PC version without all the extra add-on packs and downloadable skins and goodies. Also, once the PC Sims go online next year (the third and final stage of their heinous plot), the PS2 version will rapidly start to look dated.
There is hope. You can resist. Don't go into games shops. Don't talk to friends who might try to tempt you with the two-player levels unlocked via Get A Life. Go live in a monastery in the Hebrides. And if you do succumb? Well, at least you'll go out smiling...