|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Redwood Shores||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 21, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
August 12, 2008 - No, not like that! We're talking wild as in getting back to nature. You know, the Jack Hanna stuff. And if going back to nature sounds good to you, there's a new Sims IP that just might pique your interest. SimAnimals gets rid of all the human relationship and personal drama we've come to love and expect and trades it for the drama of living in the wilderness among animals.
And of course, this is where the relationship drama comes back into play. Instead of forming relationships with roommates and possible girlfriends or boyfriends, you'll need to get to know the local animals, which actually might be a little more difficult to get along with. Each animal in the forest will have distinct personality traits that may or may not mesh with your own. Kind of like life, huh?
You will be playing as an unnamed (and invisible) person who is living in the forest, for reasons unknown. There will be an overarching story involved, but most of the plot elements will depend upon your behavior in the game. You'll have to take care of yourself as well as deal with the animals in order to reach true cohabitation. The environment is totally interactive, and you can move different elements like trees and flowers around to suit your needs.
You will also be able to interact with the animals, but the level of these interactions will grow and change as time goes on. Your experiences with the animals will also change depending on how you treat them. If the animals take a liking to you, then they'll probably be more apt to help you in times of trouble. But if you do things that upset the animals, then you'll probably be up the proverbial creek.
In addition to the help that the animals may provide, there are also added incentives to help the animals. As you build stronger relationships, the animals will show you new, undiscovered areas of the forest. These areas will not only provide you with extra living space, but also rare items. And who knows, you might even find a new animal species as well!
Each animal that you encounter will have their own personality and goals that you will have to help them achieve. For instance, a hedgehog is easily scared, so you will be able to make friends with him by helping him to overcome his timidity. Badgers, on the other hand, are abrasive and antisocial. So, how can you get in good with this creature? By helping it tap into its softer side and helping the badger make lots of forest friends. There will be plenty more animals included in the game, over 60 in all, including bears, rabbits, deer, and foxes. It definitely sounds like there will be plenty to explore and do in this title, and there seems to be no shortage of possible conflicts or crises to manage.
Since the game is coming to both the Wii and the DS, players can expect a little bit of a different experience across both platforms. The DS version will have a more RPG-like interface and utilize touch screen menus to interact with the various animals of the forest. The world will be represented in 2D here, and players will be able to have a bird's eye view of the forest.
The Wii version looks to have a little bit bigger world and, of course, better graphics. The world will be in 3D and players will have a more perspective-based experience. The Wii version will also have a different interface that focuses on active engagement rather than menu-based interaction. There will also be a multiplayer component in the Wii version that will allow up to four people to play inside a forest at the same time.
SimAnimals looks like it will be another engaging entry in the long line of Sims games, and it will include all the drama and intrigue of the human-based titles, but with a more nature-friendly approach. This title is expected to release in early 2009, so we'll have to wait a little while before we can live with the animals. But when we do, it looks like it will provide a fun and engaging experience that will get you into the wild!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer