Unreview: The Sims FreePlay (iPhone/iPad) These Are Not The Sims You’re Looking For

sims freeplay characterI just can’t commit to EA’s latest version of the long running people simulator anymore. In spite of making a stellar first impression, the glacial pacing of the real-time clock, the lack of of Sims free will, and the poorly implemented Facebook-like farming nature of the game, I just can’t muster the interest in this title anymore. Keeping this thing running in the background is also decimating the battery life of my iPad. At the current pace, I estimate it would be another month before I had enough experience to craft something I would conscionably call a review, but there are several points of interest with this title I wish to discuss. In light of this, I believe that the time has come for another GUO Unreview™!

The Good

Graphics - FreePlay’s graphics engine is stunning! High res and boldly colored, the engine for this title is breathtaking to behold. Controls are silky smooth (at least on an iPad2) and intuitive. Rotating and zooming the camera around your virtual dollhouse could not have been executed better.

sims freeplay buildBuild Mode - No more being stuck with a prefab house here! Rooms can be added or expanded by simply dragging out a wall in FreePlay’s build mode.

Lack of Micro-Transactions - Being a free-to-play title, and from notorious wallet scrounges EA no less, I was prepared for all manner of in-app purchase madness. Shockingly, The Sims: FreePlay is devoid of them. While batches of Simoleons and Lifestyle points are available for a price, they are readily available in game.

The Neighborhood – You won’t simply be building a single household in FreePlay, but an entire community. FreePlay will slowly unfold over time granting you access to 16 households. While you’ll also be able to purchase business for the neighborhood, these are can only be put in a designated spot and cannot be altered.

The Dog – This version of The Sims does what every other version has failed to do since pets were introduced: Give you a dog within the first minute of gameplay! More than that, the dog is the only source of constant interaction in this game as he runs around, digs for treasure, and chases his own tail before settling down for a quick nap. Ironically, the dog is the very model of what your Sims should be like.


The Bad

sims freeplay iosNo Free Will - The most you can expect your Sims without explicit instruction is sit on a couch. Seriously, that’s it.

Mandatory Online Connection for No Reason - FreePlay requires an online connection at all times and I can’t figure out why. The game is completely installed (requiring nearly 800Mb of space) and features no social networking features at all. I also also noticed a rather alarming drain on my battery whenever FreePlay was left in the system tray even with push notifications disabled.

Two Dimensional Sims - For a Sims title, The Sims FreePlay provides very little personality for the little digital denizens. There are no skills, traits, or ambitions. While a personality choice is presented when creating new Sims, the impact on gameplay is non-existent. Animation sequences are canned and repeated exactly the same each time.

They Just Don’t Need You – While nay-sayers of the series may be pleased that these Sims don’t require regular trips to the potty, the needs of FreePlay’s personas barely require any care at all. Leaving your Sims unattended for 24hrs will drop their needs bars by less than half.

The Real-Time Clock – While intriguing in concept, it is simply not riveting to watch a Sim stuff their face at the fridge (no, they can’t ever be bothered to use a stove except for making saleable items) for 4 minutes, or sleep for 7 hours. This is alleviated later somewhat by having more Sims.

Farming. Literally – The bulk of your time with The Sims FreePlay will be spent grinding the game’s two forms of in-game currency, Simoleons and Lifestyle points, so you can buy items or build new houses. The fastest way to gather these is by, literally, farming. Holding a job pales in comparison to the loot harvested from a 24 hour binge of growing pumpkins. Worse, there your Sims will be actively planting those veggies that whole time, unavailable for any other interactions. Once you start farming, you stay farming.

sims freeplay ipadThe Sims FreePlay has all the right building blocks for the best portable version this franchise has ever seen except that the developers didn’t want to make a Sims game. They wanted to make a farming game with the Sims in it. The real problem with this is that it is not a good farming game. There are far better farming games out there. The lack of free will and easy going needs meters stave of any chance of your neighborhood even being a fun place for visit a couple times a day or creating –like virtual pet. The mysterious requirement for an online connection and horrible battery consumption was the final straw for me to uninstall The Sims FreePlay after a couple of weeks watching these ambitionless little dolls bent over tending the veggies.

These are not the Sims I know and love. This is FarmVille 101 minus the social aspects. And it has been done better many times before.

The Sims FreePlay is available for iPhone 3GS and newer iOS devices. You can get it free from iTunes.


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  2. I have had the same problem re battery drain with Sims Free Play on my iPad. Even after deleting the app and rebooting I seem to be losing power too quickly. Help please....

  3. Deleting and rebooting fixed mine, but the problem did seems to linger for a few days. You may just need a little battery maintenance as well. Don't worry. it's easy stuff.

    Be sure to run your iPad's battery all the way down until the system turns itself off (usually at around 2-3%). Let it rest for 30mins to an hour. Try to turn it on. if it turns on, run it back down to dead again.

    Plug it in to the AC charger (not a PC USB port) and let it charge back up to full (2-3 hours). You can turn it on to check the battery meter, but don't unplug until you're sure it's back to 100%.

    Once fully charged, run that sucker back down to 0 again. Rest then recharge via AC to 100%.

    Ideally, do this once a month for all rechargeable devices.

  4. There is another thing. My Sims induced battery problems went away after taking the iPad on vacation and away from WiFi (I'm assuming you have a WiFi only model). You may want to try turning off WiFi for a while (maybe 6-8hrs).

    On the off chance this works, there is something very wrong and sneaky installing with FreePlay.

  5. Full marks for your review: I do so agree. For a couple of hours I was excited, then I was intrigued by the idea of popping in now and again to see how my Sims were getting on, then I was frustrated by the simplicity and boring character of their characters and interactions... and finally, I was scared by the way my iPod battery was draining in just a few hours! And I was nervous about the claimed "requirement" for a wi-fi connection just to play the game. Sorry, but it had to go!

    Now I will see whether I have the same problem others have had with battery condition after deleting and rebooting...

  6. your battery issues was due to bad battery conservation methods by Apple/iOS there has been a fix for it since... your concern over your battery life is misplaced on this game.

  7. You can turn off notifications by going to options in the app and switching notifications to no.

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