Sims 2


by Tracy Whitelaw
author awarded score: 90/100

The Sims 2 Review
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Maxis
Format Reviewed: PC
Review by: Tracy Whitelaw

Ok, let me first start off by saying that I have been a Sims fan since their first outing and I'm one of those Simaholics who go out and buy each new expansion pack the day of release. You might think that I am therefore not the best person to review this, I might have unneccessary bias, I could simply say this is a brilliant title simply because it's a Sims game, however I beg to differ. I adore The Sims and therefore this game simply had to be outstanding to live up to my expectations. I have waited on this game impatiently for months and months and the outing on the Xbox and PS2 just didn't cut it for me. Was I disappointed then when I finally got to play? Hell no! This game is Sim-ply fantastic.

My first surprise with The Sims 2 was the size of the box. It was thick, a lot thicker than your average PC gaming box. This could mean only one thing, lots of discs. Woohoo. I wasn't disappointed. There are a total of four discs in the box along with a hefty instruction manual, infact its so hefty I thought that it was in many european languages but nope, just English. This all bodes well so I loaded up the discs and waited in anticipation. Those nice guys at EA have kindly added some little games to play whilst The Sims 2 is loading and this helps pass the time whilst you're waiting.

Image: http://www.gamergirlsunite.com/reviews/pcreviews/sims2/sims2_party.jpg

When the game has finally loaded one of the primary differences is the graphics. I was actually a little stunned that the ingame graphics weren't the cut sequences. At times they were seriously that good. Theres a huge leap from the graphics of the first Sims outing and EA have definitely made the most of the advances in technology here. You are given a few different options on how you want to play your game. There are some scenarios already premade which you can decide to play if you want to just jump right into a game. This is a little bit reminiscent of the console outings and if you enjoy that kind of goal oriented game then you should start off here. Theres also a few tutorials with the options kindly set out for complete beginners or for Sims veterans. I decided to play these as I figured that any kind of additional help would benefit me. To be honest however, you'll find that a lot of the game is self explanatory and does indeed build on the basics set by the last game. There are obvious additions however, again if you've played some of the explansion packs these won't be completely alien to you. Theres so much to cover in The Sims 2 that the best approach really does seem to be from the beginning.

The three ready made neighbourhoods have everything you need to get started. The nice additional touches however make these stand out and theres a few familiar faces in one neighbourhood whilst there are completely new characters in both of the others. The interesting point about these new neighbourhoods is that they all have their own stories. That's one of the main new additions to The Sims 2. The addition of storymode really can add volumes to your game. You can create all the sordid little trysts and soap opera dramas that you like and take photos to prove it. You can create a detailed photo album with titles, footnotes and explanatory paragraphs creating a real feeling of community for whichever neighbourhood you choose. The bonus of playing with one of the neighourhoods which already exist is that you can learn the techniques which will eventually help in your own neighbourhood building. The slight change in the simology in this outing gives your Sims more depth. They now have aspirations which will guide and shape their everyday needs and wants. The aspirations can be chosen by you if you decide to create your own Sim however if you play some of the already created characters then you are at the mercy of their particular wants and needs. The aspirations available are romance, family, knowledge, popularity and fortune. These will also shape your fears which can decrease your happiness if they are realised. The whole point of aspirations seems to be to help shape your Sims personality but also it helps keep your Sim satisfied and develop. There is nothing finer than having your Sims aspiration meter turn white and a white diamond above their head. This indicates that you Sim is in a near Nirvana like state and it's at this point that you want to get them to learn new things that they might otherwise not enjoy. Let me digress for a moment however as I'm running away with things and I want to indicate some of the beautiful basics of The Sims 2.

Image: http://www.gamergirlsunite.com/reviews/pcreviews/sims2/sims2_house.jpg

Anyone who has ever played The Sims knows that the majority of the fun comes from creating your own homes and characters. In The Sims 2 this is still as important as it ever was. If you decide not to play one of the already exsisting neighbourhoods then you can start from scratch creating your own. This for me is the best part. I decided to create my own neighbourhood complete with rainbows, waves lapping against the shore, golden fields and of course the ultimate Sim must have, huge lots with beautiful houses. There are houses already made which you can simply put in lots in your hood however its always more satisfying for me to build my own. There are the usual basics available, walls, windows, doors, floor etc, however there are tons of new items and lots of lovely new soft furnishings available to use. Your Sim should never want for anything really, aside from money of course to buy extra cool things. I've always been one of those sad little people who implemented the use here of the money cheat to boost my simoleons and nothing was about to change with The Sims 2. I hunted down the cheat and I used it to build the coolest houses I could. After you've done that you need to go on and make a suitable family of course to move into the house. This area of The Sims 2 is so advanced from any of the other Sims that I couldn't stop playing with it. You can literally make your sim customised down to their eyebrows, chin size, face shape and so much more. It's a beautiful addition to the overall package because it lets you base your Sims on people you know in real life. That's always much more fun when you're playing as then you can giggle at their misfortunes in a far more cruel way. You can start of your family with real ties also which was not something available previously. If you have two adults in your family, you can link them together as siblings, partners, friends etc which is a brilliant idea. A nice non sexist and non homophobic addition is that you can have two females married or two males married should you wish to and you can also create a child which can be linked to them as their child. If you have a male and a female adult in the family you can make a child for them and it will combine their DNA making the child like their parents. Great fun and a little strange to see how they turn out. When you're finished creating your family heritage and their characteristics theres nothing more for it than to move them in. Once you've done this there's the usual Sim needs and wants to be dealt with but the addition of the aforementioned aspiration meter adds another dimension to your gameplay. You will be rewarded with unusual gifts for reaching your aspiration goals and these can be really good fun in the game. Strange things such as the elixir of life and the simoleon tree are amusing items to have in your Sims home. When I chose romance as the aspiration for two of my female Sims who were married to each other, their daily wants tended to be things such as 'make woohoo, kiss 3 other Sims, make public woohoo' and more. It was hilarious watching the woohoo I have to say. I'm a 29 year old woman but I couldn't help but laugh at the noises and movements from under their bed as the fireworks went on overhead. On more than one occasion my Sims reached Nirvana through this action. Brilliant.

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As is par for the course in all Sims games, its important to develop relationships with other Sims and of course pursue a career should you wish. Many of the career options are similar to the last Sims games but it just all seems so fresh and exciting that you wont tire of it. There are tons more actions for your Sims to perform now also, adding to their range of social interactions. The sound is the familiar simspeak and the music is slightly more updated and interesting. Your Sim now has the capacity to remember things and important memories can be accessed through the control panel. This can shape the Sims life and as your Sim ages that will influence who they become. I did tell you that your Sims aged right? No? Ohhhh yes. Your Sim will grow old and you can literally shape every moment of a Sims life from their birth right through to their death.

I really could go on for pages about how outstanding this title is. Its addictive, its fun, its amusing, its frustrating, its satisfying, everything you could want in a Sims title really. I am not at all disappointed in The Sims 2 and I have to say, I've had my issues with EA games over the last year but it's almost tempting to forgive them for this brilliant release. When you start playing The Sims 2 you'll soon understand how addictive it is and how completely absorbing it can become. I highly recommend it to any age, gender, sexual persuasion, race and all other diversities in between. This game really does have something for everyone. Now if you'll excuse me I have a Sim to console, she adopted a child and wasn't home to meet it so it was taken away by the services. Bah!