Now Available On: PC
Maxis enjoyed great success with the original SimCity games, but there was always something impersonal and bureaucratic about virtual urban planning and digital building work.
Spinoff title The Sims took a refreshingly different approach to the original world creation series, holding a magnifying glass to the city's inhabitants and placing emphasis on humour and personality.
Developed by Will Wright and his team at Maxis in 2000, The Sims gave players the opportunity to play god to a small group of pint-sized beings and had them cater for their every whim.
While this included such basic needs as eating three square meals a day and answering the call of nature, it wasn't as banal as it might sound.
The eponymous Sims were fascinating beings, oozing personality and representing a giant leap for artificial intelligence in PC gaming at the turn of the millennium.
There was rarely a dull moment watching your characters' lives unfold and seeing them encounter the same trials and tribulations that we face every day, plus hearing them babble away in their native tongue of Simlish was always endearing.
Sims had to be instructed to carry out tasks like get washed, exercise and learn new skills, but they also had a degree of free will, unless the player chose to deny them it in the options menu.
Watching on as they autonomously interacted with other characters, striking up friendships, relationships and rivalries was among the highlights on offer in this infinitely re-playable game.
Like its sequels, the game was applauded over the diverse range of relationships on offer, with players given the option to strike up same-sex relationships, a feature that has sadly never sat well in countries such as Russia.
Although The Sims was open-ended in the sense that there was no ultimate goal, characters could be killed off through starvation, drowning, fires and electrocution, or pack their virtual bags and leave the game if they were chronically unhappy.
Sim City's building and book-balancing wasn't jettisoned entirely, as players could remodel and furnish a customised suburban home for their Sims via Build Mode and Buy Mode.
The in-game architecture system was highly sophisticated, and this comes as no surprise given that Wright and his team originally envisioned the title as a house-building simulation.
The Sims' role was initially to evaluate the houses constructed by the player, but it soon became apparent during the development process that they were the stars of the show.
Not only was The Sims a creative trailblazer, it was also a huge commercial success, displacing Myst as the bestselling PC game of all time with more than 11 million copies sold worldwide.
EA and Maxis continued to invest heavily in the game post-launch, supporting it via the expansion packs model, a system that remains in place for modern incarnations of The Sims.
'Livin' Large' was the first add-on to drop in August 2000, and it was followed by six others over the course of three years, each adding new items, characters, skins and features.
The Sims' phenomenal success on PC paved the way for the game to be ported to consoles, with developer Edge of Reality charged with tailoring it for PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube.
The game survived the conversion process well, so much so that the console market received new instalments in the series for years to come, but the PC edition was always the definitive version.
The Sims has spawned dozens of sequels, ports and remakes during its 14-year lifespan, and although its core entries have grown ever sophisticated, the 2000 original will always have historic significance.
With The Sims 4 due to touch down on PC less than two months from now, fans of the series can look forward to the new instalment safe in the knowledge that the underlying framework that made the original a classic appears to be firmly in place.
Do you have any find memories of The Sims? Post a comment below!