Posts Tagged ‘the’

The Sims FreePlay Android Review [HD]

March 18, 2012

The Sims FreePlay is EA’s follow-up to 2010’s Sims 3 for Android. I don’t normally review free apps (and certainly not apps that are free and then ask you to pay later on) but this one caught my Sim-loving heart.

 

As I mentioned in my previous Sims 3 review; I’ve been a big Sims fan from day one. Since its original release there have been lots of spin-offs and expansions – all of which I have avoided. Give me the simple ‘make-your-Sim-happy-and-get-a-better-job’ style gameplay and I’ll quite happily play for hours. Add in stupid dating or magical expansion packs and I’ll look elsewhere.

And this is why I have been playing Sims FreePlay every day for three weeks now. 

You start the game with an empty town map and you’ve got to select your plot to build on. Your initial build will come without a fee (and it’s not a bad house either) just to get you going and then it’s time for the fun part – creating your Sim.

I was quite surprised at how much you can play around with the look of your Sim. When compared with The Sims 3 there must be ten times as many clothes, hairstyles and personalities to choose from. You could quite easily spend twenty minutes just making your Sim look how you want him to.

Once created it’s time to move your Sim into their new home. The tutorial does a great job at introducing you to how the game works and what you should be doing to get your Sim up and running in their new place. This is when you realise that ‘real-time’ really does mean real-time. Events that occur in The Sims FreePlay take as long as they would in the real world. Send your Sim to the toilet and they’ll take 10-15 seconds to perform the action. Washing hands – 10 seconds. Fancy a good night’s sleep? That’ll be 7 hours please.

This real-time gameplay may not be to everyone’s tastes but it does work for people who, like me, have things to do during the day – like work! Send your Sim off to work in the morning and when you get home from work yourself they’ll have finished as well.

Each action your Sim performs earns experience points (or ‘XP’) and in some cases money too. The more XP you earn the more things you unlock in the game and the more money you have means nicer things for your Sims.

If you want your Sim to earn more money and XP then you’ve got to keep your Sim happy just as previous Sims games would have you do. By fulfilling the usual Sims needs (hunger, toilet, cleanliness, fun, social and sleep) you can make your Sim feel fulfilled. A fulfilled Sim earns more XP/money for actions performed and if they perform the action in their own household they get even more still.  This is where the management of your Sims comes in. Keep your Sims fulfilled and doing things in their own home may seem a bit anti-social but it helps you level up a lot quicker. There are some cases however that you may want to have all your Sims in one house and make them fulfilled there – mainly because it means you don’t have to keep switching between houses which will save vital seconds of time.

As you progress through the tutorial you’ll notice you receive ‘Life Points’ for completing goals. Life Points are for the impatient amongst us who don’t want to wait 12 hours for a house to build or can’t wait any longer for their Sim to finish in the bath. Using up a Life Point will instantly complete an action/task and save you having to wait around. This can be useful when you’re building things around town such as new houses or workplaces. Think of Life Point as gold dust because that’s pretty much what they are.

The whole reason The Sims FreePlay is free is because they rely on people getting hooked on the game and also getting impatient. If you run out of Life Points or Simoleons (the Sims’ currency) then you can buy some from the Sims Store – with real money. This is the part of the game that makes me feel a bit sick. A measly 6 Life Points costs £2.37 but you can actually purchase 1000 for £71.39. How they can get away with this I do not know. Patience is a virtue my friends, I’ve only used a few of my Life Points up (one time being when the tutorial forced me to) and another when I needed a new Sim quickly but paying for them is not an option for me – especially at those prices.

As you progress in the game you will then need to build your Sims somewhere to work. After all, they’ve gotta pay the bills sometime. This is the first time I fell over in the game. I built a science lab which was the best-paid job on the town map but what I failed to realise is that the working hours were from 10am ‘til 6pm. Because I go to work at 9am (I’m talking about real life now) I wasn’t around to send my Sims off at 10am. You can send your Sim off around 60 minutes early to work but sadly I wasn’t at home to do so. Well, that was $10,000 wasted. So I had to save up and I built a sports stadium instead. The work hours were much better for me and my Sims as they now work from 8am-12 noon. Your Sims will get promoted and earn more money and experience the more they work so make sure you keep them going. Sending them to work in a fulfilled state is not only amusing but also helps increase the amount of XP and money they bring back at the end of the working day.

Pets! Who doesn’t want their Sim to have a loveable companion? Well you don’t get a choice with your first Sim as they’ll be given a very handy golden retriever. You don’t have to feed or ‘water’ your pets but they do come in handy. If you leave him alone for long enough he’ll find hidden treasures in the garden. These range from $1 to $100 and even Life Points (although these are quite rare). Simply tap on the barking mutt once he’s found something and he’ll dig it up for you. Other than that, pets don’t play a huge part in the game, they’re mainly for show but also help out every now and again with the bills. If you build a pet shop in town then you will be able to purchase different breeds of dog but these can only be purchased by using up some of your Life Points When you see your gold retriever is actually worth 100 Life Points the thought may cross your mind to have him put down and sold but sadly this cannot be done. Fancy a retired greyhound? That’ll be 5 Life Points. 25 Life Points if you want a scary looking a Labrador and there are many others to choose from.

A great source of income is from growing your own fruit and vegetables (try telling that to British farmers). You can quickly, well, every couple of hours, rack up hundreds of XP and Simoleons by growing some potatoes for example. Have a few or more Sims doing that at the same time and you’ll be able to afford that new flat screen TV you wanted. Along with having a job and planting crops you can also bake things in the kitchen. These baked goods are nice but they don’t give you anywhere near as much when compared to farming.

Sims can go for a drive around town to cool off and they can also visit each other’s houses. The lack of free will however means you have to get them to all interact with each other. This is OK in the main but it’s time consuming work for sure. There is also a lack of dignity between Sims. For example: you can quite happily have 4 Sims in the bathroom at any one time. One in the shower, one washing their hands, one in the bath and the other clearing out last night’s curry in the toilet – and they won’t batter an eyelid either. This (however disgusting) is actually quite handy when you’re trying to satisfy multiple Sims’ needs – and it can also make for some quite amusing situations.

Up next: Build Mode is here! That’s right; you can now fully build your Sims home from scratch on your mobile device. It’s one floor only at the moment but it’s a start if nothing else. If you’d rather not select one of the pre-made houses for your Sim to move into then why not just buy the plot and come up with the grand design yourself? The build mode works really well indeed. It’s so easy to create rooms, doorways and windows that you could spend an age just building one lot. Don’t forget however that houses cost money so make sure you’ve got enough in the bank before you start doing so. You don’t want to end up with an unfinished house for your Sim to shelter in do you? Or do you…?

Along with building houses and re-sizing your rooms (at any time in the game) the buy mode lets you add furnishing and items to your house. There are hundreds of objects to choose from ranging from crappy little CRT TVs to beautiful tall fridges with ice making capabilities.  Some of the items are very expensive and some, again, require Life Points to purchase but you can normally get yourself a bargain if you search hard enough. The quality of the item you buy does affect how long actions performed with it last however. For example, if you buy the cheapest possible bed it will take your Sim 7 hours for a good night’s sleep and only 725 XP points. However, upgrade to one of the 3-star beds and your Sim can be up and refreshed in just 6 hours with 825 XP points to boast. This works the same with other object around the house; it’ll even take longer to go to the toilet if you buy one of the cheap ones!

It’s this mixture of pros and cons that make The Sims FreePlay interesting and fun to play. There’s no requirement to ‘add friends’ to be able to progress further as in other real-time games and this is a big plus. As much fun as it would be if you could visit your friend’s towns it’s nice to have FreePlay as a standalone game.

I would highly recommend that all Sims fans give FreePlay a go. It may not be your style but it’s fun to just ‘pick up and play’ when you have a spare moment.

 

GAMEPLAY 8/10

The real-time gameplay of Sims FreePlay isn’t new to me but it’s the first of its type I’ve actually continued playing for more than a few days. The inability of being able to queue up actions for your Sims can be annoying at first but I suppose they can’t have you queuing things up for a day’s worth of actions or you’d just earn stupid amount of money and XP in a very short period of time. I do feel however you should be able to queue up smaller actions such as going to the toilet and washing your hands afterwards. Even with this limitation the game plays out very well. The Goals will keep giving you something to aim for be it to just buy a new coffee machine or to finally do the WooHoo.

 

GRAPHICS 9/10

The graphics have really come a long way since The Sims 3. They’re crisp, clear and smooth and this really helps bring the game alive. The amount of detail was quite surprising when you consider this is just a mobile game. You can zoom in and spin your camera around as much as you like and it doesn’t have any troubles coping.

There is a bit of slowdown every now again when all your Sims are together and fulfilled but this is just a minor glitch.

Flying around your town map just shows the level of detail the developers have gone into here. Traffic lights change colours (and cars even follow the rules!) and trees blow in the wind which give it a more ‘console like’ feel. I would put The Sims FreePlay on-par with The Sims 2 on PC graphics-wise.

CONTROLS 9/10:

The touch controls work incredibly well. They’re responsive and the 360 degree camera allows you to navigate round your Sim’s house with ease. This can be very handy when you have a house full of Sims and you’re trying to select an item that’s behind another one.

SOUND 8/10:

One of my big problems with The Sims 3 on Android was the terrible sound in-game. Where was the build music? Why did it keep glitching? All my worries and sleepless nights have been resolved in Sims FreePlay. There are different musical pieces in each mode just like in a ‘proper’ Sims game. The only annoying factor here is when you’re quickly switching between your Sims’ houses as the ‘house music’ will start from the beginning each time. I can overlook this however as there is variety in the different modes. If you’ve got a spare few minutes you can actually change the in-game music to something more preferable anyway – simply navigate to the location where your Sims game downloaded (normally in /sdcard/Android/data/com.ea.games.simsfreeplay_row/published/music) and you can put something a bit more to your taste in there.

The sound effects in the game are good too. Each action you perform has a different sound so you certainly know the difference between your Sim making a coffee or having a bath. You can even here your Sim typing on their keyboard as they play their own copy of The Sims 3!

OVERALL 85%:

It may be the lure of the Sims and their everyday lives or perhaps I just like watching my Sims shower in their underwear but the easy-to-learn and hard-to-put-down gameplay will keep you coming back for more.

How to S-ON the HTC Desire S, Unroot, remove Revolutionary and Clockwork Mod recovery – a step-by-step tutorial [HD Video]

January 22, 2012

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Today I will be showing you how to get your HTC Desire S to be “S-ON”. You only need to follow this video if you want to revert your phone back from a S-OFF state.

Why would I possibly want to do this?

There are several reasons:

1) If you need to send your phone back to HTC for repair it’s probably a good idea to remove any software you’ve put on the phone — they may no like it

2) If you want to revert to how your phone was when you first purchased it this is the best way to do it (some people call it factory defaults)

3) You’re bored and have 18 minutes and 5 seconds to spare.

What you will need:

1 x HTC Desire S (with at least 50% battery)
1 x USB Sync cable
1 x half-cup of tea
1 x de-stressing device

Firstly, you will want to download an RUU file. RUU stands for “ROM Update Utility” and this file contains the original software/firmware for your phone.

Go to here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1002506 and then click the link to FileFactory which will bring up the list of ROM files. Find the one that matches your phone. If you are in the UK like me you’ll see “UK” in the file name. You also need to select the correct file depending on the phone operator/network you are on. I’m on T-Mobile so went for the “TMO” version.

Whilst that downloads, on XDA Developers again, search for “Revert back to stock (remove revolutionary)” http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1387484 and you can download a lovely package from “giby21” which contains Android Flasher and the HBOOT file you need.

Extract the files and then load Android Flasher. Please note you must have HTC Sync UNINSTALLED, USB Debugging mode enabled (in your phone’s settings) and you also need HTC’s Fastboot drivers installed for your phone to be picked up later. You can get the fastboot drivers from here: http://unrevoked.com/rootwiki/doku.php/public/revolutionary

Now select your device in Android Flasher and the select the Browse button under where it says “Bootloader”. Browse to where you extracted the “Revert to stock” .rar file and then the folder called “FlashENGHBOOT”. Select the .img file in there (named engHBOOToverARX.img) and press OK.

Now power off your Desire S and power back on whilst holding the Vol Down button. Click to select FASTBOOT and then plug it in via USB. Now back to the Android Flasher program and select “I’m already in fastboot” checkbox and press the “Flash!” button. You should now notice the REVOLUTIONARY title at the top has gone — great — it’s been removed.

Once flashed, reboot your phone and leave it plugged into the USB. Now you can right-click the RUU file you downloaded and “Run as Administrator”. This process will take about 10 minutes but after this you will be back with S-ON and to your original T-Mobile (or other operator) software.

Phew! Time for a drink!

App of the week: Pulse News

April 7, 2011

android app of the weekApp: Pulse News
Cost: FREE
Developer: alphonsolabs.com
Developer page: alphonsolabs.com

 

This week I have been mostly using Pulse News. Now normally, reading news on your mobile phone is a pretty boring task. Pulse News takes that and makes it, dare I say, ‘sexy’ [giggles like a school girl].


Pulse News 1This free app will combine your news feeds and bring them to you in a way that makes them interesting to read. Combining pictures and text in the feed and allowing you to quickly browse through articles is Pulse News’ strong point. Want to read an item? Just tap it and the feed you selected slides down to the bottom of the screen to reveal the article. It’s a pretty slick interface to say the least.

Each feed can be scrolled through horizontally with the flick of your finger and this works well in both portrait and horizontal mode.

Pulse News comes with a huge library of popular and interesting feeds built-in but what makes it better is the Google Reader import. If you use Google Reader to store your RSS feeds then it’s just a case of adding in as many or a few of your feeds as you want. This negates the need to tediously add in each of your favourite feeds manually, one by one, by inserting the URL.

You can have multiple pages of feeds so you could split them depending on subject or preference and, with 12 feeds per page, you can have up to 60 feeds in total. The usual sharing links are given so you can post a news article to your Facebook, Twitter, E-mail or text.

The app is being updated frequently at the time of writing to improve performance and speed. I have noticed it stutter a bit when scrolling around but if these issues can be ironed out then this is definitely going to be the best RSS reader out there.

Check out some more screenshots below and be sure to give the app a try – you’ve got nothing to lose!

Pulse News 2Pulse News 3Pulse News 4

App of the week: Grooveshark Remote

March 28, 2011

android app of the weekI have just spent the last 45 minutes creating this fancy icon for my new feature “App of the week” so I hope you like it.

Every week I get the chance I will list my favourite app for Android. Be it free or paid it will go up and I will attempt to explain what it is exactly that makes this app so very special.

App: Grooveshark Remote
Cost: FREE / 99p for add-free + more features
Developer: Ben Kay
Developer page: awesomedigital.co.uk/gsremote

grooveshark remote for android 1This week I start off with Grooveshark Remote. For those who haven’t seen or heard about Grooveshark then check out my video review on YouTube. To cut to the chase, Grooveshark is a cheaper alternative to Spotify. Whereas Spotify is £9.99 a month for use on a mobile device, Grooveshark equates to about £20 a year.

Grooveshark Remote basically allows you to control Grooveshark running on your PC/Mac via your HTC Desire. This means you can choose, skip, pause and play songs without even getting off your chair. This is great for lazy people like me who like to change the current track whilst in the kitchen for example.

The free version has ads and doesn’t allow you to control the volume but the paid version removes ads and unlocks the volume feature. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot for 99p but not only was the volume feature one I really wanted but the developer promises to add more features in an upcoming version.

grooveshark remote for android 2Who knows, maybe in the future you’ll be able to ‘favourite’ and have even more control over your tracks. I’d certainly recommend giving the free trial a go at least.

If there is album artwork then it is displayed on your handset and the main screen has the previous, pause and skip buttons on. Using your phone’s volume control will control the output of the volume from your Grooveshark web application. Note this app only works with the web version of Grooveshark because it uses a browser plugin – not a problem though because all your playlists from the Dekstop Grooveshark application are all saved online. Clicking on the album art takes you to your playlist so you can quickly switch between songs.

From this screen you can also control repeat all, one or none and also the shuffle mode.

There are a few kinks that’ll need to be worked out but this is definitely an app that’ll get re-installed whenever I wipe my phone.

The Sims 3 Android App Review (HTC Desire) + HD Video

January 3, 2011

Hi everyone and Happy New Year!

2011 is bound to be an exciting year for Android devices and with the HTC Desire and Desire HD going strong we can expect to see some great games.

The first of these great games is The Sims 3 from EA Mobile which I have reviewed below. I have also put in my video review below for those of you who can’t read.

Enjoy!

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