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The Sims Bustin' Out N-Gage

Published by EA Games
Developed by Maxis
Released - Out Now
Price : £34.99

Whilst it's simply impossible to cover every format that there is here at Deaf Gamers, it's always nice to be able to cover as many as possible. From now on we're privileged to be able to bring you reviews for the Nokia N-Gage platform. Shortly we'll have an article on the N-Gage QD console but first of all we'll take a look at the first N-Gage game we've been able to review. The Sims series needs no introduction. To put it simply The Sims series have sold more than any other game series in gaming history and it's only logical that the game has been bought to as many platforms as possible. Let's take our first look at N-Gage gaming and see how The Sims Bustin' Out shapes up on the handheld console.

Late last year we looked at The Sims Bustin' Out on Xbox and it differed somewhat from the PC version of The Sims in that the main portion of the game focused on a goal driven story. Bustin' Out on N-Gage is the same in this respect but there are some fundamental differences between the versions. The Xbox version had a PC like control system in that you controlled a cursor/pointer and could issue commands to your sims by using the cursor on the various objects. Thankfully Maxis have altered this and in the N-Gage version you have direct control over your character which makes playing the game much more intuitive.

The game begins with you creating a character, male or female, with which to play through the game with. To be honest the character customisation options are a little sparse when compared to The Sims games on other platforms but what's here isn't too bad. Once you're all set to go you'll begin at your uncle's farm and you'll get your first list of objectives. Throughout the game your sim will reside at a few different locations such as your uncle's barn, the Clock Tower, Waterfront Villa and Imperial Estates. Although the game is fairly linear in that you'll need to complete all the goals in order for the story to progress you're free to complete them at your own pace and you can do your own thing. The first handful of goals that have to achieved will familiarise you with various aspects of the game play. The game is set in SimValley which is actually quite a large town. Initially though parts of it will be closed off and you'll only gain access to the whole of SimValley once you've completed the necessary goals. As it's so big you're given a scooter to allow you to drive around which is a nice inclusion.

As with other versions of The Sims your sim will have to work but rather than your sim just disappearing for several hours a day you'll have direct control of them as they take part in one of several mini-games such as Mower Madness, Smoothie Slider and Powerlifter that will earn you money. Again your sim has needs that have to satisfied such as hunger, energy, social, comfort etc., but these are far easier and less time consuming to satisfy than in other versions of the game. A minute in the game is equivalent to approximately a second in real-time which gives the game a less rushed feel than in other versions. Of course when at work and involved in conversations time can pass much more quickly.

As we mentioned earlier you have direct control over your character. Movement is handled via the directional pad and works well (you can also keep the 7 button pressed to make your sim run). When you want to interact with an object you simply have your sim approach the object and when a yellow arrow appears you press the 5 button to bring up a list of possible interactions with the object in question and again you'll press the 5 button to choose your interaction. It's a simple method that works very well indeed. To move items around you'll approach an object in the manner we've just mentioned and choose to put the item in your pocket which will place the item (no matter how large) in your inventory. When you want to take the item out of your inventory you'll get to position a footprint of the item (you can rotate the item with the 2 and 3 buttons) and when you're happy with the position you simply press the 5 button to place the item. You don't have a menu to allow you to purchase items like in The Sims games on other platforms but instead, in a slightly more realistic way, you'll have to go to the store to purchase items. There are also auctions that you can take part in too which might allow you to pick up certain items much more cheaply.

Graphically Bustin' Out looks slightly sharper than the GBA version of the game. Of course the N-Gage has a portrait view screen and not a landscape screen like the GBA but this doesn't make a difference at all to the game play and at no point did I find the view restrictive. Maxis chose to go with an isometric 2D appearance for Bustin' Out on N-Gage instead of a 3D appearance in this has proved to be a wise choice as it's enabled the game to have more detail and sharper images. There's no messing around with camera angles too which makes things far more pleasant. Should your character pass behind a building or object you'll still see a slightly faded view of them and all of the walls that might potentially block your view when your sim is inside a building are automatically cut-away so in essence then there are no problems at all keeping a close eye on your sim.

The Sims has never been a problem for deaf gamers thanks to it's heavy reliance on the use of icons and thankfully Bustin' Out on N-Gage is as deaf gamer friendly as it could possibly be. Conversations are in text and you'll need to press the 5 button to progress them so you'll be able to read the text at your own leisure. Conversations take place on their own screen and you get a close up view of the character that you're talking to. You're notified in text when a goal has been given and completed and you can access the goals at any time by pressing the * button. Occasionally other characters will want to talk with you, sometimes to give you additional goals and sometimes just to talk, and these characters will have a red exclamation mark above their heads to highlight the fact that they want to talk with you. Of course you still get those icons that highlight what your sim needs most. If they are about to fall over from exhaustion, for instance you'll see a bed icon above your staggering sim. These icons help to catch your attention in case you haven't been monitoring those bars at the bottom of the screen.

The Sims has been a big success on every platform it's appeared on and there is no reason why the same can't be true with Bustin' Out on N-Gage. It's a more focused game than the original PC version of The Sims. I liked the way in which you don't have to go to work everyday and when your sim does go to work the mini-games are far more involving than watching the clock fly-by whilst your sim is at work like in the other versions of the game. There are even a few multiplayer elements to the game and it's possible to compete in Bluetooth multiplayer auctions and compete against other players times in competitions called Shadow Racing on the N-Gage Arena. There are other mini-games for you to find within the single player game too such as snake, bricks and tennis. On the whole it's definitely another quality Sims title that N-Gage owners should definitely pick-up.

Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10
The first N-Gage title we've looked at and it's rather impressive. Those of you that have played other versions will find the game a bit more restrictive as you can't build your own homes but what's here has been very well done and makes a great use of the N-Gage.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No problems at all for deaf gamers. If you're a fan of The Sims it's definitely worth getting.