Facebook Game Face-off: The Sims Social vs The Ville
When The Sims Social launched on Facebook around this time last year, it came dangerously close to uprooting the almighty CityVille from its throne as number one Facebook game. Fast forward one year later. Just as EA released its answer to the top city-builder around, Zynga has finally hit the proverbial "reply" button to EA and Playfish's first challenge with The Ville.
That's right, the gloves are off. In this week's Facebook Game Face-off, we pit The Ville up against The Sims Social. As always, we'll judge each game on three criteria, give our two cents and leave the final vote to you, the players. This Face-off sees both games go toe-to-toe based on the cast of characters in each, their social features and the fun factor. With that, let's get ready to ... you know the rest.
How Lively are the Little People?The neighborhood of Littlehaven is packed with interesting characters, including its primary protagonist, Bella. While most of the characters introduced to the block through quests are throwaways, they're nevertheless memorable. That's thanks to both expressive, quirky illustrations and witty, chuckle-inducing dialog. It's this kind of work that ropes players into the world you've created, and The Sims Social does a fine job of it.
The Ville features a similar approach, but unfortunately falls a bit flat in the execution. From illustrations that look less than lively to dialog that simply pushes players along rather than make them laugh along the way, the characters in Zynga's house and people simulator aren't filled with the life of its competitor's. And ultimately that makes us less inspired to find out what happens next.
And How Do They Tell the World?Playfish's take on the legendary Sims franchise made great pains to live up to its title. The Sims Social was one of the first Facebook games to try something new with social: drive the conversation around the game to what players were up to in-game rather than what they needed. (Though there's plenty of that, too.) Adding a moral compass of sorts--and WooHoo, of course--to social interactions worked wonders in that department.
Zynga pegged exactly what was so interesting about the "social" in The Sims Social and did it one better: bring that conversation right into the game itself. The Ville turns every action and interaction into something that players can "Like", spreading the word organically. Between this the in-game chat room, Z Talk, and the fact that players can invite multiple friends' avatars over at once, The Ville is essentially a social network in and of itself.
But Do We Want to Tell the World?The team behind The Sims Social has taken great pains in recent months to make players want to come back to Littlehaven on a regular basis. Features like cars to drive, careers to aspire to and vacation homes to kick back in have been introduced to the game make things a little more interesting than just visiting friends' digital digs and completing quests. But it's ultimately the lively, goofy style and feel of this life simulator that makes it actually interesting to see how players' Sims interact.
The life simulator by The Big Red Dog (no, the other one) has all the trappings of a fine simulator game on Facebook, but it simply doesn't have that spark, that silliness. Maybe that's because much of what seems to be an attempt at making the world of The Ville feel alive--the character interactions and animations, the gibberish voice over work--has already been done. But maybe it's because, simply put, we've already had our fill.
Time for Some (Fore)ClosureWhile The Ville has social features that run circles around The Sims Social, we're going to have to give this one to the latter. Contrary to what many might believe, this isn't simply because EA and Playfish were there first. It ultimately boils down to the fact that the characters and avatars in The Sims Social have more life, the writing has more wit and humor and the world is more attractive and approachable. We'd much rather live in Littlehaven than in whatever town The Ville is set in--hypothetically, of course. But enough from us--let's hear what you think:
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