The Sims FreePlay is about as fun and free as you allow it to be, even if those two objectives seem to work opposite each other. Thankfully, despite impediments to both user enjoyment and the cost of the experience, EA has done a stellar job bringing the Sims environment to the mobile platform.
Gameplay-wise, it’s surprising how easy playing The Sims is. The touchscreen of the iPhone actually makes the game more intuitive than it is on any other platform due to the amount of pointing you have to do to play The Sims. On an iPhone, that pointing is basically instantaneous as players can move their Sim around and tap around the screen to add objects with very little effort.
Visually, too, The Sims FreePlay looks bright and inviting. The more time you spend with the game the more time you feel really sucked into its tiny virtual world. It just feels fun to be messing around in SimVille.
But then there are the issue of the back half of the title, and things get a little more complex. The game really is free. Players can go through and accomplish tasks with real achievements, and very little is locked out from the experience. But that freedom comes with a tight leash. The player can only make so many moves before a meter runs down that will require an extended waiting period before new actions can be taken. It is free to wait, of course. But for players who are invested, there is the opportunity to purchase the points you need to progress onward in the game. No more waiting, and lots more fun, but no longer free.
On top of all that, the in-game store that enables you to purchase these points isn’t exactly user-friendly. I’ve only been able to pull it up one time out of numerous attempts when playing the game for this review. It’s possible it’s an issue with my Internet connection or something else, but for someone who has made up their mind to put real money into the game, it’ll be frustrating to have that attempt blocked by some lackluster server responses. The Sims FreePlay is fun, though. It’s a great representation of The Sims experience brought artfully to iOS and if you can stomach the waiting or don’t mind kicking in a few bucks, you’ll get a lot out of the experience. But I’d almost prefer to pay a bit more up front to ensure I had the whole game at my fingertips from the get go.