They say sex sells, and that’s presumably the initiative Koch Media has used when publishing this new 'love sim’ by Rotobee. The game is not far from my initial thoughts of 'The Sims: Sexing it up’, and after playing it for some time it’s quite obvious that The Sims game was more than just an influence. The idea of a people simulator suggests similarities, but the whole user interface comes across as almost identical.
The game sticks a male and a female in to their new apartment or villa, both knowing nothing about each other. The objective is to get the two characters to bond and build up a relationship. Get the idea?
Singles is both a 'life-sim’ and a 'love-sim’. As far as the life bit is concerned the game could have been a lot more in-depth. Like in The Sims both characters have bars for their different 'needs'. This includes hunger, comfort, energy...etc. As with 'that other simulator game' the aim is to keep these needs fulfilled.
Then there's the love bit which the game focuses on more. As well as their needs, the characters also have a 'relationships' tab. Effectively, this is where the game starts to get a little bit different.
This relationships tab includes friendship, romance, sensuality, fun and trouble; all the elements which the player must work on to improve the relationship between the two singles. Whilst the needs for food and rest need to be monitored on a regular basis, these other attributes increase gradually, only if you can get the characters to spend valuable sim time with each other.
The 'relationships' element is the main focus of the game, since the goal in Singles is, let's face it, to get your characters into bed. The player's aim is to get the bands in the relationships tab to a maximum. So take 'sensuality' for example. At first the two characters will only be able to 'flirt' with each other, but as you focus more on their sensuality more actions will gradually be introduced.
However, the 'needs' tab can't simply be ignored. If the player doesn't give the singles enough food or rest, the characters will refuse to spend time with each other, and so building up their romance and sensuality won't be possible.
Singles also attempts to add a story to the simulation element of the game. As the game progresses, the dialogue between the characters builds up, and becomes more, quite frankly, blunt. Yep, Singles is an adult orientated game, and yes you can take them as far you want. For example, the more you work on sensuality between the two characters, the more actions will become available. Starting off with 'flirt’ you will gradually progress to 'kiss with tongues’ and then 'full on action’ when you’ve reached the maximum band.
Whilst Singles seriously lacks in originality, the game does however boast an impressive 3D engine which lets players take a look from all angles, and zoom in and out on the apartment. Particulary impressive are the lighting effects which have been used, and these can be noticed most during the course of the day when it changes from daytime to evening to night. The game at least offers some eye candy to the sim market.
The audio included is also well suited to the game. The game comes with an up-to-date soundtrack with dance music playing in the background.
The controls are pretty straightforward too. All mouse based, and don’t require any time at all to get used to...
...Which means you can spend more time on the gameplay and working on the relationship between the two singles. However, despite it being addictive, it gets repetitive and lacks the substance needed to be a decent simulation game.
Don’t get me wrong, as far as the love simulator idea goes the game has been fairly well implemented, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that apart from working on the relationships there really isn’t anything else to do.
As well as the Story Mode, you can also start from scratch with an empty apartment or villa, decorating and furnishing the rooms the ways you want to. There is a fair range of items on offer too, for the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom...etc. However the designing involved isn’t nearly as vast as in The Sims.
What I’m trying to say is that, as a life simulator, Singles is not nearly as in depth as it could be. They won’t bring friends round to the apartment, you won’t see them at work... in fact, they don’t seem to have a life outside the home.
In addition to the regular mode players can also play in Raindow or Pink mode which lets them pair two guys or two girls together. The obvious difference here is that you're playing with singles of the same sex, but let's face it; the lesbian possibilities won't get ignored by many!
The main flaw in the game is simple. Once you’ve built up the relationship between two singles and you’ve seen them do everything that they can do, that’s it. You could go and do it all again with two other singles, but you will only get to see the same "action" that you did before.
There are over ten characters to choose from, but I didn’t notice much difference between any of them apart from the way they look. There aren’t any noticeable differences in their personalities, all the male or female characters speak the same, and in story mode the dialogue is pretty much identical for which ever couple you choose.
For a game that looks and sounds as good as it does, it’s a shame that the gameplay lets it down. Singles is fun and addictive to play at first, and the idea of a relationship sim is something a little new, but the novelty wears off and as soon as you’ve done it once, you’ve done it all. To sum it all up, Singles isn't a life sim - it's a reasonable relationship sim with no frills.
If you like the idea of building up relationships between sim type characters, and don’t have too high expectations, its addictiveness and impressive graphics engine could be a good enough reason to try it out. However, the game really needed more substance if it was to have the life it needed.