Developer: Last Day of Work
Price: $3.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Virtual Families is a robust and deep iPhone game that seeks to allow you to play god over the people living in your “computer.” (Even though the text says computer, obviously these people are living in your iPhone. Although ambitious, the game fails to deliver on any real innovation outside of what you would expect from the Sims like experience. The game is in many ways a direct port of the Mac/PC version that is available.

Adding touch controls in place of a mouse and changing little else the interface for virtual families leaves me squinting to read text and feverishly poking the screen trying to get more accuracy of out my finger tip. At a quarter of the cost of the PC and Mac versions I’m more than willing to accept these mostly cosmetic problems in order to pay such a low price. What I can’t forgive is the overall clumsy translation of controls–the game becomes all too tedious when I can’t get the game to do what I want because everything is so small. Adjusting the resolution of the game and the size of the interface would fix this and those of you with agile fingers will see no problem at all.
I ran into the previously reported saving issue that has plagued both OS 2.0 and 3.0 issues. Heading to the support forum for the game will give you a tedious yet effective way to fix this issue.

The graphics and sounds are great for an iPhone game. I found myself engrossed in the visuals and sound effects that the game offered during my first experience with the game. This visual theme is somewhat interrupted by the fact that this game was obviously ported from its desktop counterpart. When the beginning sequence announces that people are living inside my computer, some of the verisimilitude (feeling that whats taking place on screen could be real) was eaten by this fact.

Gameplay is exactly what you should expect from a game that tries to be like the Sims. You help your little friends along in life and try to manage their needs. This is a well treaded path and leaves little room for improvement on a proven concept. Something I cannot fault the developers for but at the same time cannot forgive. I found myself becoming very bored with guiding my adopted friend to clean up his own house time and time again.

img_07251Trophies offer a unique “achievement” concept like seen on the xbox 360 and give a little replay value to an otherwise mediocre experience. I found myself trying harder to get trophies than I did actually caring for my adopted buddy.

If you’re a fan of the Sims or any of the other “Virtual” games that Last Day of Work has created then you will feel right at home with Virtual Families. If you’re looking for a 1:1 Sims experience on the iPhone platform this is not it. If you’re looking for a robust entry into the category of life simulators, you will find that this game has quite a bit to offer you. You should still be leery of the fact that this game is in fact a port of a PC/Mac game and it shows in the difficulties I had with controlling the game.

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