Still, the graphics aren't anything to scream and shout about. It's a good thing, then that the sound is. All game developers should take a moment to listen to the sound effects in The Sims. Maxis really paid attention here, and it shows. Everything sounds exactly the way it should, from the grunts and clanging of your Sims lifting weights, to the snoring and mumbling of your Sim catching some well-deserved rest. Computers make the appropriate beeping noises, and the TV sounds like TV, with that slight speaker buzz and the obnoxious announcers peddling their products over commercials. The most impressive sound effects are for the cartoon channel. There is no question what your Sim is watching on TV, as Maxis seemed to pull that sound library straight out of the old Bugs Bunny shows we used to watch on Saturday morning.
The soundtrack is nonexistent until you walk your Sim over to a radio. Flip it on, though, and you're treated to 23 MP3 tracks covering Latin, Classical, Country, or Rock music. The country and rock tunes are where this soundtrack makes it's mark. Each song sounds like a radio single if the lyrics weren't in the same gibber talk your Sims use. The quality put into the production of these music tracks is incredible. Whoever put this together should go out and make a name for himself (or herself) at a major record label.
Still, 23 tracks is only 23 tracks, and for the amount of time you can expect to sink into this game, those 23 tracks won't be enough. But Maxis comes through again. You can copy your own MP3 files into the Music directory, and the next time your Sim flips on the radio, he'll be jamming to Dave Mathews or whoever else you decide to play over Radio Free Simland.
That'll be the only time you hear any recognizable language, though. All Sims speak that special language we call gibberish. Really it sounds like some odd mix of French, Spanish, English, and Baby Talk. But even though you can't explicitly understand a word of it, the voice acting is so good you can still tell what they're saying. Just using inflection and tone, your Sims easily express their emotions and desires. Whether they're telling a joke or asking someone to get out of the bathroom, it always sounds right, just like everything else you'll hear out of this game. There is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with this game's sound.
Turn up the volume though, and you'll forget any complaints you had about the game's look and feel. Meticulous is putting it lightly -- the Maxis team is obsessive-compulsive when it comes to making sure that everything from flushing a toilet to chopping up vegetables sounds like the real thing. More complicated sounds like the stereo and television are handled with care and quality, providing original songs and sounds in the same gibberish language as the Sims themselves. The Sims talk in a language that, for not sounding familiar in anyway, perfectly captures the moods, attitudes and actions of every character in the game. You'll know when a Sim is telling a joke, and more importantly, whether or not the jokee thought it was funny. The music adds yet another layer, somehow turning easy-listening into something you look forward to. When it's playing at the Acropolis with Linda Evans in the stands it's a shuddering mess, but in a long-running game like the Sims, it's pure magic. I never thought that light-jazz piano music would make me so happy, or make me feel so calm while watching people burn to toast from starting a fire on a stovetop.