I Liked the Sims but I Killed Them All with the Cleaning Robot
March 27, 2010 11:52 AM   Subscribe

I want a Sims-like sandbox type game that I can mess around with in my free time. Suggestions?

What games out there are like the Sims in which you spend a lot of time building, designing, and trying to make things better? I'd prefer something with a little more depth than the Sims, but something that allows for a lot of sandbox-type creativity while still having an eventual goal. I used to play Sim City and really enjoyed it, but found it rather hard to beat and somewhat annoying. But I like the premise of creating an entire city from scratch.

posted by pyrom to Computers & Internet (22 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Empire: Total War.

(Really, any of the total war games are fun. Empire has beautiful graphics, and is open ended.)
posted by QueerAngel28 at 11:58 AM on March 27, 2010

Dwarf Fortress.
posted by shadow vector at 12:00 PM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Stranded II. It's a highly interactive deserted island simulator where you have to collect and work with the various resources to construct shelter, find food, and eventually find a way to escape. It's Sims-esque in that you have to manage your health, hunger, thirst, etc., in real time, and has the same sense of working a daily routine that slowly builds towards larger goals. It's also free! And the graphics requirements are pretty low-key, so you don't need a powerful machine to run it.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:12 PM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cities XL.
posted by transporter accident amy at 12:15 PM on March 27, 2010

Best answer: Tropico. If you're into rail/air/sea/road network building, try the 1990s era Transport Tycoon, which has been remodelled as Open TTD (which admittedly I haven't tried, but the original was great).
posted by crapmatic at 12:19 PM on March 27, 2010

Take things into space, and you could have the X3 series - e.g. X3 Terran Conflict (the latest version) the marketing strapline for which is "Trade. Fight. Build. Think."
If you ignore the storyline, you can play it as a sandbox universe waiting for you to construct your own vast trading empire... great, but time consuming.
posted by Chunder at 12:26 PM on March 27, 2010

Black and White!

Black and White allows you to play God! A little bit less sandboxy than the sims, but with great goals and awesome gameplay
posted by lakerk at 1:56 PM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dwarf Fortress; the really basic graphics allow for a lot more options for designing and destruction.
posted by Think_Long at 2:03 PM on March 27, 2010

I was all ready to suggest Dwarf Fortress until I noticed Shadow Vector already had..
Here's an excellent beginners tutorial for it, complete with download link: http://afteractionreporter.com/2009/02/09/the-complete-and-utter-newby-tutorial-for-dwarf-fortress-part-1-wtf/

I've lost many hours to this game. It's very complicated, very detailed, and there's no undo function. Fortress Mode is completely sandbox with no win condition.
posted by comradestu at 2:09 PM on March 27, 2010

Are you looking for Windows games, browser games, console games, what?
posted by box at 2:12 PM on March 27, 2010

I eagerly anticipated the answer to these questions - but am now sad. Is there anything like this available for a mac?
posted by lodie6 at 3:30 PM on March 27, 2010

Response by poster: Computer/Browswer would be sweet. Not sure how much of this genre exists for Xbox 360, but if it counts, I have one.

Currently: checking out Tropico 3 and Cities XL. I'll let you know my findings when I'm done.
posted by pyrom at 3:32 PM on March 27, 2010

If you don't mind alpha/beta-y nature of it, maybe Minecraft?
There's a survival mode in which apparently you can run around and get beat up by things. There's supposedly item farming and crafting, but I only tried it out for a few seconds before being savaged by some bouncy dudes. The regular mode is just building stuff.
posted by juv3nal at 3:58 PM on March 27, 2010

Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares.
posted by nurgle at 9:39 PM on March 27, 2010

Civ IV is cool as well.
posted by nurgle at 9:40 PM on March 27, 2010

Anything but Mafia Wars...
posted by nurgle at 9:40 PM on March 27, 2010

2nding Civ 4!
posted by saradarlin at 12:16 AM on March 28, 2010

Oh man, Master of Orion II was amazing! But can it be played anymore? Without dosbox, that is.
posted by Happydaz at 12:17 AM on March 28, 2010

I thought Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 was loads of fun. Build a whole park, design actual rides, attract guests, and occasionally see people fly off/throw up from your rides if they are built with blatant disregard for physics.

Tropico 3 is pretty good. That's out for the PC as well as the 360. (I have the 360 version but I'd recommend the PC one just because the limit for islanders is higher...over 1000 as opposed to around 500, I believe.)

If you haven't played Alpha Centauri yet, it's like Civ but many people prefer it.

For just the 360, I was hooked on Civilization Revolution for several weeks. PURE CRACK.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:30 AM on March 28, 2010

can roll back to civ II for PC

but id def suggest the civilization franchise...
posted by knockoutking at 5:28 PM on March 30, 2010

Spore is an obvious one, but honestly I don't think it's as fun as the Sims. But still a good game!

Viva Pinata is probably less in depth than the Sims, but it's so ridiculously addictive. I could play this game for hours and hours (and have). I have yet to meet a person who did not love it.
posted by audacity at 7:36 PM on March 30, 2010

Anno 1404: Dawn of Discovery is a nifty city/civ/trade sim that came out last Summer for Windows and flew under most people's radar. The combat isn't great -- kind of generic RTS -- but the exploration, city building, and trade aspects are really enjoyable and the graphics and sound are very polished. It's worth playing through campaign mode as a kind of extended tutorial but then you can sandbox in "Continuous Play" mode and dial the AI's aggressiveness way down if you just want an economic sim without the RTS elements. Here's the Metacritic link for it if you'd like to read some reviews and see if it sounds like your cup of tea.

There are also ports for DS, Wii, and iPhone but I haven't tried any of them and can't speak to their quality or enjoyability.
posted by devnall at 1:00 PM on March 31, 2010

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