Virtual families is a one-player game for your PC in which you adopt characters and build your own families. The game was created by 'Last Day of Work' in 2009 and is very The Sims-esque with its concept of virtual building. Despite it having its own special qualities, it doesn't quite match up to its competitors.
You start the game by creating your own account by putting in your name, there is room for up to 5 people to have their own account and save their games. Once you hit 'play' characters will appear which all need a good home. You get to chose which characters you want to adopt from a long list which you can scroll through.
Each character has vital information which you need to consider carefully before adopting:
6. Wants kids?
In order to run a successful household and build a family you need to adopt the right characters.
Once you have chosen who you want to adopt the character will move into your house and then you have to build a life for them and teach them how to be pro-active around the home. You can praise their behaviour and punish their behaviour, through this process the characters learn how to behave properly. You have to teach them how to do chores and you have to buy food for them and other things using their wages.
Marriage proposals come via email in this game which I find quite amusing. Every so often an email will come with a proposal and you then have to choose if the character is suitable for your adopted character. Once you settle on a suitable partner then they move in and you can start to buy more things as there will be more money and you can then start to build a virtual family. You have to keep an eye on your characters and make sure they are happy and behaving correctly. You have the capability to drag the characters around the home and they let you know when there is something wrong e.g. when they aren't feeling fresh so that you can drag them to the shower. I find this aspect of the game slightly boring and sometimes a little frustrating as one of my characters Inky once said that she was hungry so I bought food and dragged her to the kitchen but she wouldn't eat. Also sometimes she would drop laundry and then when I dragged her to pick it up, it was as if it wasn't there.
Along the bottom of the screen there is a control panel where you can see what your character is thinking and what mood she/he is in.
There are also 5 buttons which will lead you to other options:
1. Detail: where you can learn more facts about your characters.
2. Family: where you can look at the family tree of the characters you have adopted.
3. Store: where you can buy groceries, clothes, medicine, toiletries, career improvements and home improvements.
4. Collections: a list of family collectable items which you can sell on eBay for money e.g. pictures, old coins and bugs.
5. Trophies: there are hundreds of 'trophies ' available and to get one you must complete a certain target e.g. earn $100/$1000/$10,000, receive 10 emails, marry someone with more than $200 in the bank, have a baby/twins/triplets, water plants, dance, buy a barbecue etc. The trophies vary throughout all aspects of your characters lives.
The aim of the game is to collect as many trophies as you can whilst keeping your virtual family happy.
When I first started playing this game I found myself having to start the game over a few times before I settled on characters that I could turn into a virtual family. I don't feel that this game is as advanced as others of the same concept that are available. Music plays throughout but I found myself having to turn it off after a while as it got a little annoying. The game has an isometric view (looking down) upon the house so it is easy to control the characters and see what is going on in your house. The game plays out in real time which I struggle to get my head around because when I play a game I rarely go back to it everyday. This means that if you start playing it one day and log into it a few weeks later things will have changed in the house. Sometimes the characters do things which to me suggest that the games software isn't very intelligent e.g. characters will walk through the sofa or bed or thet will have their back to you but their face is on the back of their head.
My first impressions of this game weren't very good, I wasn't delighted by the game quality and it didn't seem to interest me much. It took quite a bit of persistence for me to get into the game and it took quite a while to develop a family and collect trophies. This game has unique elements which others don't e.g. you can buy medicine and heal sickness and there is the trophy collection element but I'm not sure if the artificial intelligence of it balances things out.
I would recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of this genre and who is willing to put quite a lot of time and dedication into a game. For me it takes up too much time as I am not that interested by it but it was fun while it lasted. You can pick up the game for about £5 from such sites as Amazon.co.uk which I think is a reasonable price.
I give it 3 stars out of 5!
Thanks for reading : )
Review also on Ciao under luceey.