The Maxis franchise of “Sim” games has been an
extensive one, and dozens of hit or miss sequels and spin-offs have
followed the original, “Sim City.”

It wasn’t until the year 2000 that Maxis hit pay dirt with
its release of “The Sims,” a game in which players took
a voyeuristic look into the lives of a family of virtual
characters, deciding how each person was to live his life. From
showering in the morning and finding a job during the day to
cooking dinner that night, gamers were attracted and ultimately
addicted to this style of God-like gameplay.

Maxis’s newest release, “The Sims: Bustin’
Out,” promised to get the Sims out of the confines of their
homes and into the neighborhood, allowing for all new environments
and interactions with other Sims. In this respect, the game does
deliver. Gamers are allowed to take their creations out into
locales such as Pixel Acres (a nudist colony), Club Rubb (a local
dance club) and Shiny Things Lab (home of a mad scientist) to meet
and form relationships with other characters.

The new locales and the variety of new jobs develop upon the
already involving gameplay of the first “Sims” release.
The graphics have also undergone a massive overhaul; no longer are
the camera angles trapped in four pre-determined isometric views.
Instead, viewers are allowed full control of the 360 degree

In the end, however, “The Sims: Bustin’ Out”
simply feels like another expansion pack to the original game.
Creating characters and having them advance along their prospective
career paths is an interesting premise but, as it did in the first
game, gets bogged down in rudimentary and banal micromanagement.
Keeping your Sims in good spirits constantly involves cooking them
dinners, having them take showers, letting them water flowers and
numerous other everyday activities. If gamers sigh at the fact that
they have to take out the trash in real life, why would it be any
more enjoyable in a videogame?

The goal-driven career mode keeps the game on track, though.
With a variety of objectives laid out, gamers feel as though they
are advancing toward some higher end. Without it, the upgraded
graphics and gameplay wouldn’t matter, and
“Bustin’ Out” would flounder completely.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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