The latest in the ever popular SIMS franchise of games is now available for iPad for free. It’s he latest big title to embrace the new and popular gaming model “Freemium”

SIMS FreePlay is an EA Mobile title, developed in Australia by Iron Monkey (acquired in 2010 by EA). It brings the best of the SIMS experience to your iPad for free, with the option of buying “Simoleons” or “LifeStyle Points” with cold hard cash to speed up your progress through the game.

It’s been a while since I’ve played a SIMS title having loved the original back on PC. The concept is very much the same and while some features of the full versions of the game are missing. For example, you can’t change the colour of your hair, only choose from a pre-defined set of hair choices. If you’re looking for that level of detail you’re really at the wrong level of gaming.

The sex, mood and other features of your SIM are fully customisable so you will feel in control when building your game.

Another important note is that SIMS FreePlay happens in ‘real time’. That is, if its night time for you, it’s night time for the SIMS. And many of the activities are in real-time too – so watching a TV show can be a 28 minute exercise.

You jump straight into SIMS FreePlay with the goal setting challenges which try to subtly teach you all you need to know about game-play and the buttons on screen. From patting a dog, building a toilet, extending a room, building a new home and creating a second SIM you’ve got a few challenges to complete before the game is yours to just play.

It’s not long before you’re tempted by the Freemium model where you are able to use in-app purchasing power to buy either Simoleons or Lifestyle Points to quickly build bigger stuff or live a more exciting SIM life.

I’m not a fan of the broad ‘freemium’ model myself, it reminds me too much of the shareware days of old where malware and bloatware started making computing a pain – in the modern era the experience of downloading a game for free and not being able to play it in full is a frustration and should be jumped on by Apple.

However, in the case of SIMS FreePlay you aren’t hamstrung during the game. It’s very much like the Facebook version of the game where you can play to your hearts content, but can pay cash to move faster. So for this style, the Freemium model works and should be embraced.

If you fancy yourself as a dictator or enjoy the “Truman Show” style experience of watching everything and playing God in many ways, the SIMS FreePlay is perfect for you.

Don’t be tempted immediately by the purchase of credits – give the game a good go and then start growing your town. When you’ve learned enough and really want to get cracking start buying those credits.

SIMS FreePlay is available NOW at the App Store