The Sims

Posted September 5, 2012 by James Day in Editorial

Bet you didn’t expect to ever see a piece on The Sims here at Citizen Game! I’ve been a big fan of the life simulating, world constructing sandbox series since the original debuted on PCs way back in 2000. While Maxis’ ground-breaking original has long been outpaced by its sequels in terms of graphics, features and sheer amount of the content one aspect has yet to be bested; it’s soundtrack.

If you don’t know much about the series you’re probably assuming I’m sort of crazy man but long-time fans know where I’m coming from. The Sims’ soundtrack was superbly crafted and spanned a surprising number of musical genres and styles. Further expansion packs continued the trend of the base game, adding equally awesome compositions from the jazz, electronica and big band genres.

It’s really quite remarkable just how consistently high the quality is despite the soundtrack’s breadth. It’s almost as if Maxis collaborated with some of top artists from each genre but in reality it was just four composers responsible for all the The Sims‘ music (more on these guys in a bit).

Jerry Martin has also composed music for Sim City 3000, Sim City 4 and various television projects

If I had to pick just one track that might convince you that I’m not talking nonsense here, it would have to be one of the pieces that play whilst in Build Mode. For whatever reason, these solo piano numbers are genuinely moving, channelling a range of emotions as if to invoke those felt by your simulated people over the course of their lives.

I think a big part of the impact of the Build tracks (and to a lesser extent, the rest of the soundtrack) is that you don’t often hear music like this in video games. And in a game that focuses on the fairly realistic joys and woes of people simply living their lives, these beautiful and emotive numbers really leaves an impression.

My personal favourite of the six unnamed tracks (most fans refer to them by their file names build1, build2, etc.) has to be the fifth one. This mournful yet dramatic number in particular seems to reflect the turbulence of life, somehow being nostalgic.

These piano pieces were composed and performed by Jerry Martin who worked on the majority of Maxis’ games between 1996 and 2004. Other composers for original The Sims and its expansions are another Maxis regular Kirk R. Casey plus Marc Russo and Dix Bruce, the latter two I can find next to no information on. Whoever they may be, they deserve to be recognised for contributing to the outstanding soundtrack to one of the best-selling PC games ever made.

About the Author

James Day

James likes video games and writing. He currently works at Microsoft so his opinions are worth even less these days.