Top Simulation Games of All Time

Simulation and games are are odd couple. Gaming if often about escapism, yet simulation attempts to bring real world activities to life in a virtual world. Often a simulation can give the user the opportunity to do something impossible in real life, like flying a plane or becoming a goat.

Sims aren't all occupation based, with the some focussing on managing the lives of people either in minute detail or from above as a kind of overlord.

The Sims franchise is one of the most successful PC titles of all time, offering players the ability to not only create, but also watch how these virtual people interact in the world, becoming more complete personalities over time.

SimCity is simulation on the opposite end of the spectrum with big picture decisions affecting those going about their business. Then there's the multitude of occupation simulations, such driving cars, trains and planes, but also operating farming and construction site equipment. If you can think it, the chances are that you can sim it.

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  • 30.

    Battlestations: Pacific

    If you're prepared to push through its choppier moments, you'll find a rich and highly enjoyable game that should keep you occupied for months. Battlestations Midway was a rather unusual hybrid of a game, a mix of real-time... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: Xbox 360, PC

  • 29.

    The Sims 3

    Other than some gameplay niggles that throw the social life/work seesaw slightly off kilter, The Sims 3 does real credit to EA’s long running mega series. Hearing a middle age woman wax lyrical about a video game is sadly... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: iPhone

  • 28.

    Style Boutique

    This fashion store sim is perfect for kids who like to shop and create different outfits. You might have noticed that this review looks slightly different to other reviews on That's because we look at games... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: DS

  • 27.

    Football Manager Handheld 2010

    It's not perfect and for some might be too expensive, but if you enjoy trying to take your team to league and cup glory, hours and hours of fun (or misery) are to be had here. How much depth do you want from Football Manager... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: iPhone

  • 26.

    Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

    Assault Horizon can be a frustrating experience at times, but when things are going to plan you'll be left with an intense feeling of satisfaction. Boys have always had a fascination with planes. As kids, we'd hold our arms... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3

  • 25.

    Animal Crossing: New Leaf

    An essential buy for Animal Crossing fans. Animal Crossing: New Leaf doesn't beat about the bush, as you're immediately tasked with the hefty responsibility of being the Mayor of your new town. Nothing initially seems out... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: 3DS

  • 24.

    The Sims 4

    The feature list is bare, but the Sims themselves are incredible. Pools, like garden flamingos, are an almost iconic part of The Sims franchise, but they're not essential to it. The Sims 4, which famously scraps a number... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 23.

    Football Manager 2015

    Whether you’re scrawling tactics onto a board or on the training pitch in a tracksuit, Sports Interactive has crafted another great Football Manager experience for you. The sense of helplessness felt by managers at times... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 22.

    Football Manager 2016

    Football Manager 2016 is complete misery, heartache, and bouts of pure anger – directed at a bunch of numbers. But I love it. It's amazing how a game can make you care about a group of people who I had no knowledge of and... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 21.

    Prison Architect

    Prison Architect is a full-on sim that will eat your time. If you fancy a dark look inside the running of a prison, look no further. Prison Architect isn't a nice game. Don't let the basic, twee appearance of its world and... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PS4, Xbox One

  • 20.

    Farming Simulator 17

    Is this the farming sim three-year-olds have been waiting for? A video review with Tom and his three-year-old son, Jacob. Usually we'd have a lot of extra content here to complement the video review. In this instance the... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

  • 19.

    The Sims 2

    The Sims 2 is worth getting ahold of under any circumstances - though it's far more likely to get ahold of you somehow. And I warn you: it won't let go. People insist on telling me that The Sims was the most unpredictable... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC, Cube, PS2, Xbox

  • 18.

    Ace Combat: Squadron Leader

    Ace Combat 5 is brilliant, a highlight of the series and hopefully not the last. Two thumbs up for Namco It's always hard to know what to say about a new Ace Combat game. I mean, if you're a fan of the series, you'll know... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PS2

  • 17.

    Football Manager 2006

    FM06 is the best, bar none. The moment you know it has you trapped in its spell is when you get to 3am and are still debating if 442 or wing-backs are the way to go. Buy it, play it, love it. Football: small boys in the park,... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 16.

    The Movies

    The Movies is ambitious, but Peter Molyneux and his team at Lionhead have pulled it off. There's no doubt that The Movies is one of the most entertaining PC games of the year. Anyone with a creative bone in their body has... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 15.

    Football Manager 2006

    Football Manager 2006 is an awesome game that will consume more time than is actually available in each day. Who'd be a manager? Well, a lot of people I would imagine. While sat at home watching your team on Sky Sports, you... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: Xbox 360

  • 14.

    Football Manager 2007

    FM 2007 delivers new layers of depth that, while not revolutionising the series, have made this year's game a more accurate and more immersive managerial experience. The most addictive database of all time is back, once again... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 13.

    Viva Piñata

    The overriding feeling you'll get from Viva Piñata is one of depth. If you like the gameplay you'll sink an awful lot of time into your garden and new gardens after that. If there's a criticism people have of the Xbox 360,... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: Xbox 360

  • 12.

    Football Manager 2007

    Fans of last year's console title will be thrilled by the new control scheme, making the game even more of a social life risk than before. You'll be playing this until FM 2008. Some things simply get better over time, and... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: Xbox 360

  • 11.

    Football Manager 2008

    We expect fans of the series and newcomers alike to be wholly satisfied with Football Manager 2008. Time to lock the door, order some pizza and unscrew the coke. Football football football. Does it ever end? If you're not... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 10.

    Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise

    Buy Trouble in Paradise, name your piñatas after celebrities, friends and family members, dress them up like fashion disasters and realise you're playing one of the best games of the year. As much as we were hugely looking... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: Xbox 360

  • 9.

    Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise

    Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise might not be the perfect handheld game for kids and the whole family but it's pretty close. You might have noticed that this review looks slightly different to other reviews on more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: DS

  • 8.

    Football Manager 2009

    If you want fancy yourself as the next Alex Ferguson, Football Manager 2009 might be the only game you'll need until this time next year. The ups and downs of football management are like nothing else. Following an eight... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 7.


    Conventional it may not be, but Flower possesses the kind of creative beauty that rarely surfaces in full-budget games - let alone a £6.29 PSN title. A lonely flower sits on a table in a dilapidated flat, somewhere deep in... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PS3

  • 6.

    Football Manager 2010

    Sports Interactive has produced the best version of FM yet, so it's easy to recommend FM 2010 to anyone with an interest in taking their team to league and cup glory. I used to spend most of my waking hours in front of Football... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 5.

    Game Dev Story

    Soon all you'll care about is getting Game of the Year over those damned Circle Enix guys and spending five consecutive hours trying to get a decent score. That guy who runs the game studio that specialises in golf RPGs?... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: iPhone

  • 4.

    The Sims 3

    It represents one of the best aspects of gaming – the ability to push a game to its creative limit just to see what will happen. It's a beautiful day over at the office. The sun is shining, the birds are singing.... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3

  • 3.

    Football Manager 2011

    This year Sports Interactive has made a game that feels like the most essential for a very long time. Being a manager has never been so realistic or as much fun. It's time for another entry in the Football Manager series.... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 2.

    Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition

    4J Studios has played its part in one of gaming's grandest success story with affable competence, allowing console owners to grab their tools and build something in Mojang's intricate world Minecraft is only limited by your... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: Xbox 360

  • 1.

    Football Manager 2014

    Addiction returns for another year... Notorious for demanding equal amounts of time, focus and dedication, Football Manager taps into obsessive-compulsive nature like few games do. 2014 is as meticulous as ever, but crucially... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC