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Sim Animals, like The Sims, offers the chance to nanny a group of demanding pets. Only here the pets look like pets rather than people. While not as big as The Sims 3 the animal angle offers plenty of innovations. But other than this it is business as usual for the series.
Sim Animals Africa boasts a playful new art style and allows you to play with wild African animals while they venture across jungles, deserts, savannas, and river deltas. Each brand new animal in the series has their own unique skill and secret abilities. Kicking zebras, rock-breaking rhinos and crocodiles that excel at hunting will assist players in keeping the environment happy and unlocking new areas, animals, and special items.
So I booted up the game to come across a colourful title screen with cheery African based music playing in the background, nothing out of the ordinary here then. The game has very little in the way of options and simply asks you to choose a save file before going straight in.
After some cute animations telling me how the tribes used to communicate with the animals, I was straight into the action. At once I was told by a totem pole to go and pet a nearby Zebra to make best friends with it. After some Wii-mote waggling and gestures the Zebra became my friend, which in turn allowed me to control it. Obviously being a tutorial type level the game only expected me to use the Zebra to acquire fruit of the tree, before asking me to choose my next level. After similar tasks in the second level I started to wonder if each was only ten minutes long.
The problem is it's all too samey and dull.
The following levels continued the same tasks albeit with new animals, like filling up a pool with an elephant to make sure the animals don't go thirsty. The problem is it's all too samey and dull. Take into account that it's produced primarily for small kids and you can sympathise that they won't notice these things as much. Three hours in and I was being put to sleep by the game, I checked my watch every now and then as it went on and on with the same tasks.
It was at this point that my eight year old brother came into the room and asked me what I was playing. I let him have a go and after spending a few minutes with the game he seemed to really enjoy it. But then he asked for me to change the level, so I did. His response was 'Is this same as the last level?' which was a worrying sign. He then asked me how old the game was, I asked him why to which he replied that it 'Looked like an old game'. I tended to agree as the jungles, savannas, and river deltas looked completely lifeless. If my eight year old brother was mentioning these things then surely others would.
The visuals are also a real letdown considering the beautiful setting the developers had the opportunity to work with.
Sim Animals Africa has good intentions and I'm sure that some will have an absolute blast with it, although I found it hard to overlook its tedious and repetitive gameplay. It's not a terrible game and hopefully Sim Animals will keep getting better.