The Sims series is nearly 20 years old. We've come a long way from leaving our Sims in the pool without a ladder and lighting the house on fire with fireworks indoors. Or have we? Regardless of your answer, I think we can all agree that we've seen the high point of the series. What exactly is that high point? Well, let's think about it.
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Here Is A Definitive Ranking Of All Games In The Sims Series
There have been more than 50 different Sims games released since the first. Fortunately, you don't have to reflect on every single one in order to get a good idea of how well the series has been doing—you only need to look at 14.
Here is every Sims game ranked in order of greatness:
14. MySims Series (2007)
13. 'The Sims Social' (2011)
The Sims Social (2011) was a Facebook game that was like a crappier version of MySims mixed with Farmville and furniture that you had to buy with real money. Surviving was made easier only by that infamous social game mechanic of harassing your friends for various in-game items.
Even if you decided to put real money into this game and live life the easy way, you still had to periodically clear your yard of weeds. Your painstakingly maintained preserves of Energy were then squandered for purely aesthetic reasons.
The only reason this game is ahead of MySims is that I can't physically put them side by side at the bottom.
12. 'The Sims Freeplay'
The Sims Freeplay is basically The Sims Social 2.0 for your phone. It's got the real-time wait periods, premium currency and periodic rounds of special events and related furniture and accessories.
It could have been a tasteful spin on the PC #VideoGames but, alas, it's more like a strangely uncomfortable mixture of the quirkier aspects from the series' history with a paywall.
11. The Sims Stories Series (2007)
Best Game: The Sims Castaway Stories
Worst Game: The Sims Life Stories
In one of EA's more reasonable moves, a series of laptop-friendly Sims games were released alongside the rather technologically demanding Sims 2 series. These games were essentially miniaturized, objective-based iterations of the main game that mirrored similarly named console titles.
They were fine for what they were but playing through them only made you wish for the real deal.
10. 'The Sims 2' (Console & Handheld)
Best Game: The Sims 2 (DS)
Worst Game: The Sims 2 Pets (All)
When EA decided to bring the wildly complex Sims 2 to consoles and handhelds, each platform has its own version of the Sims—not only in appearance but in gameplay as well.
For the most part, every iteration had objectives. The Nintendo DS version, however, featured a heavy real-time element which made it quite difficult to play in one sitting. What makes this version better than the rest is its incredibly creative story—you get to be a rat-themed superhero and save your hotel. It also had plenty of aliens which is the real reason we play The Sims anyway.
9. 'The Sims Online' (2002)
The Sims Online was the timely "multiplayer" version of the original Sims game. Things were essentially the same aside from the shared world mechanic. Skills were a bit more difficult to develop and advancing in your career took longer but the chatroom element gave everything a social feel that took off the edge.
8. 'The Sims 3' (Console & Handheld)
The Sims 3 for consoles had a lot of the same issues that The Sims 2 did in console form. However, EA did manage to let this one be free from the objective-based structure which made more people feel like they were getting something closer to the real deal in the end.
On handheld, this one really suffered—it was released for the Nintendo 3DS and ended up being quite boring. There was no Woohoo and you couldn't really cheat so your Sims usually lived in a pool of filth and broken items when they weren't happy enough to do things!
7. 'The Sims 4' (2014)
Best Expansion: The Sims 4: City Living
Worst Expansion: Every single Game Pack—namely, Spa Day and Outdoor Retreat which literally just adds outdoor furniture for $20. No thanks!
EA dropped the ball with The Sims 4. In what is essentially an ongoing disaster, we find ourselves with something that feels a lot like an unfinished game. There are loading screens galore and the game wasn't even released with pools or a toddler life stage. No pools, guys. Even The Sims had pools seventeen years ago.
I leave this one as high up on the list as it is, not because it's lovable but because one thing EA did well with it is making it playable on even the crappiest of computers. Anyone can run this game and you can mostly save the experience by modding your game to high hell.
6. 'The Sims Bustin' Out' (2003)
As the first Sims game to be released on something other than the PC, The Sims Bustin' Out became a pioneering title that left its mark in the Game Boy Advance market and allowed us to sim on the go.
The game itself carried the same witty character of the PC games in its immersive story about a Sim that's decided to move into the country and start a new life.
Due to the smaller platform, gameplay adhered to a pretty strict series of events. But there were plenty of NPCs to get to know and there were a ton of easter eggs scattered around town for you to find when you needed a break from the main plot. There was even a special NPC named Heidi Shadows that literally sold you cheats—one of which is called Rosebud.
5. 'The Sims' (2000)
Best Expansion: The Sims: Superstar
Worst Expansion: Was there ever a worst OG expansion pack? No.
It's the game that started it all! I know that, to most, this game is just a Drowning Simulator but—to the real fans out there—this game is really about how long you can go without cheating (and Bella Goth).
Let's not pretend like you've never sold a door or couch for a pizza, buddy.
4. 'The Urbz: Sims In the City' (2004)
Best Iteration: Game Boy Advance
Worst Iteration: Console
To this day, I'm not really sure why The Urbz happened, but I'm kind of happy it did for two reasons: 1) The game added bomb ass belly shirts, nightclubs and motorcycles on the Gameboy version and 2) the Black Eyed Peas did Simlish versions of their songs for it before their music turned into the auditory equivalent of sh*tting on a turntable.
I'm this close to buying a GBA just to play this game again. Man, I miss it!
3. 'The Sims Medieval' (2011)
Kudos to the standalone game, The Sims Medieval, for giving us a taste of something fresh in the middle of The Sims 3's life cycle and ahead of The Sims 4. The slightly updated graphics and truly original gameplay gave us hope for something greater.
These hopes were promptly squashed by The Sims 4 a few years later.
2. 'The Sims 3' (2009)
Best Expansion: The Sims 3: Generations
Worst Expansion: The Sims 3: Supernatural (a.k.a. Zombie Infestation Simulator)
While The Sims 3 didn't turn out to be the greatest game in the series, it was certainly a worthy contender. The "open-world" aspect, updated graphics and introduction of the cellphone changed the game for the better. It wasn't the most original installment but it was certainly the best-developed.
The Generations EP essentially brought the aging element full circle by making the child and toddler stages of life a bit more fleshed out. You could run a daycare or create home videos—basically all of the things you had to try really hard to emulate in The Sims 2.
For the best Sims game, check out this one—it plays well and that dumb Diesel stuff pack doesn't ruin everything as much as you'd imagine. For the best hardcore life simulator, you'll want to check out The Sims 2.
1. 'The Sims 2' (2004)
Best Expansion: The Sims 2: Seasons
Worst Stuff Pack: H&M Fashion Stuff because every EP was gold.
Few among us could forget how groundbreaking The Sims 2 felt when it was released. For years we'd loved The Sims, never really dreaming of a world with aging, illness and life events. The addition of all of these things and more throughout the game's life cycle generated an excitement and level of satisfaction that truly has yet to be replicated by any of the latest releases.
The modding community for The Sims also reached peak shape with this installment and it continues to be active for those who prefer to continue playing. Once you nailed the use of custom content and developer cheats (boolProp testingCheatsEnabled, you're welcome) the world was seriously your oyster.
This is why—no matter how much better the graphics get—The Sims 2 is and always will be the best life simulator in the bunch.
Which Sims game is your favorite?