One thing I’ve always liked about games is how like movies and music, we can always learn from what’s happened in the past. The true classics of the gaming world, your Super Mario Bros, your Donkey Kong Countries, your Final Fantasies, no matter when you pick them up they will always turn out to be good games. Why is that, you might ask. Because these games are ageless. They are genre defining games that will always be remembered as such. Sadly, this doesn’t account for the majority of games. Some games are universally praised, yet if you weren’t there to experience them first hand, you’ll have no idea why they are loved. If you try and go back, you find that they haven’t aged well. And this is no better seen than with these two games.
Love them or hate them, The Sims put the life simulation genre on the map. Such a simple concept, but loved by many. Every Sims release is always praised and always has like twenty expansions to it. They are great games, but it’s very much a series that you always play the newest iteration in. Sadly, I can say I have only ever played The Sims 3. Yet whenever you hear about the games, it’s always the first two games that are remembered so fondly. And it sucks that I will never be able to know that feeling. For most of my life I had a sub-par computer, so I never really could play any great PC games that most people talked about. Sure I got to play stuff like Outlaws or Duke Nukem, but those weren’t hard to run. The Sims was one of those series.
Trying to play the first two Sims games now is kind of hard. We’ve all been spoiled by newer games. While the second one holds up better than the first, I always find myself drawn to figure out what made the first game so appealing. The graphics were certainly good for the time, but it feels so limited compared to what more modern games can offer in terms of creativity. It was very much a game of the time period, one that, no matter how hard you try, you can’t really replicate the same feelings that you would with something like an old school beat ’em up or platformer. You either played it when it came out, or you’re lost forever to the nostalgia that made it great. Even though the game itself is not an ageless wonder, the music from the game is (examples below).
It’s amazing that the first game in the series had the best music. Jerry Martin composed and produced some wonderful pieces. I’d be hard pressed to find a soundtrack as good as The Sims. It’s a shame he was never brought back for any other games in the series, because his music really captured the atmosphere so well. But enough about The Sims, let’s talk about the biggest “You had to have been there” game in the history of video games.
If there’s one thing I can say in defense of GoldenEye is that, with the exception of any multiplayer game I have played with B.T. and another friend of mine, GoldenEye wasted more of my adolescent years than any other game. I loved this game, still do. But for anyone who didn’t play it religiously growing up, it’s just a sub-par first person shooter. Sure, the story mode is still great, but as something most people played solely with their friends… not so much now. There really isn’t much more to say than that, but I’ll go over a few reasons.
In the modern FPS game, it only takes a few shots until you are dead. In GoldenEye, it can take a good two to three minutes until you kill someone. Body armor was overpowered and most guns, while stylish, weren’t that damaging. The game also had a limited number of respawn spots, so once you knew the map it was easy to find people quickly and kill them. You also didn’t spawn with any weapons, aiding the other players even more. Certain guns also only spawned in certain places, meaning camping was a totally viable option. These things would not work in today’s FPS games. If you didn’t play GoldenEye with your friends, pulling it out now would be a waste of time. People would hate the auto-aim and how unbalanced certain things are. While it was an innovator of the genre, it’s not exactly ageless, like more modern FPS games that came after it are, such as Halo 2 and Time Splitters 2. Perfect Dark took what made GoldenEye great and improved upon it twenty fold, and it was on the same system.
So are The Sims/Sims 2 and GoldenEye bad games? Not in the slightest. They are still playable, although you’d be hard pressed to not say later games in the series or genre are better or hold up against the passage of time. Admittedly most games from the PS1/64 era didn’t hold up well, and that was mostly due to the time period still working out 3D graphics, amongst other issues. So if we were to compare, games like these are a Beaujolais wine, something meant to be consumed quickly because they don’t age well. Your other AAA titles from the time period like Mario 64 and Grim Fandango? They’re more of a Cabernet Sauvignon.