Review by andymancan1

"An amazing achievement and an awesome game"

PROS: Much-improved character creation; enhanced AI; new aspiration meter works well; great graphics; good music; addictive; enough new stuff to keep you entertained for quite a while

CONS: Pathfinding can be a bit painful at times; item selection not big enough

Ah, The Sims. Likely one of the most original games ever created. Maxis clearly had a winner with the first- and all of its expansion packs- and decided to make The Sims 2.

The Sims 2 takes place 25 years after the original, and the only characters from the first game to be available are Mortimer and Cassandra Goth. Bella has vanished and Mortimer is now mayor of Pleasantview, one of the game's three playable neighborhoods. Each neighborhood already has a handful of Sims living in it, so you can go ahead and play out their stories before creating your own. There are also "stray" people that live elsewhere, something that the first game was sorely lacking. If you start an empty neighborhood, which you can, these people will show up to be your friends. However, you can't play as them because the game wants you to create your own sims.

Character creation in this game leaves the original game's in the dust. You no longer just choose a head- you get to make them. There are several hairstyles for each men and women available in only four colors. This isn't much, but it's enough. But the possibilities of doing faces are endless. You can even create yourself, your parents, your mate, or your siblings. You can even create someone you hate and make them suffer. Maxis and EA clearly spent a good amount of time on this and it shows. You also have a plethora of outfits to choose from, and you can even pick a top and a bottom. There is also a randomization feature, which is helpful if you need a Sim quick. You'll have to change the clothing, which comes in several categories- everyday, formal, undies, swimsuit, pajamas, and athletic- to match what you want, but it's more efficient if you want to get to the core of the game.

Character creation is like a game on its own here, but it's not what the game is about. Like in the original Sims, you get to build a house and act like God. Will Wright (who created The Sims) thinks that he's God so he makes several games based upon it (Wright's latest brainchild, SPORE, is coming out next year). You can boss around your sims all day. One of the new things is that you have some control over what they do at work, beyond telling them which job to take. Occasionally, a window will pop up on the screen giving you two options. One option will get you skill points, money, or a promotion. The other will fine you, dock skill points, or get you demoted or even fired. It's risky but you can always quit without saving if the results are too disastrous for you to continue. There are 10 different career tracks- Athletic, Business, Criminal, Culinary, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Science, and Slacker- all of which were in the original (with the expansions), but the new option windows will make it seem fresh. And you never know what the game will throw at you, so be careful.

And in this installment, your sims age with time. They grow old and die. They start out as infants, move onto toddlers, then kids, then teenagers, then adults, and finally elders. Another new feature is the Aspiration meter. You can choose between five different aspirations. Toddlers and kids all share growing up as an aspiration, but once a sim is a teenager, then you can choose between the main five: Knowledge, Family, Romance, Money/Fortune, Popularity. How well you fulfill your sims' aspirations will affect their lives. Make sure that you try to fill the meter, which is done by fulfilling one of four aspirations that are based on the main aspiration, before a sim evolves into their next stage. Certain aspirations are worth more points than others, usually based on difficulty or importance. Sims that grow up with a full aspiration meter will be more successful than those that grow up with a less full aspiration meter. These aspirations will usually involve talking to somebody, making a friend, buying something, going to work, life achievements (first kiss, have a baby, get married), etc. It varies depending on the overall aspiration. There are also fears that will decrease your aspiration meter. These will usually involve robbers, fires, roaches, death, and the like. People with the Romance aspiration will want to get in as many people's pants as possible, so getting them engaged will often make them lose points. If they're about to grow up with their aspiration meter in the red, prepare to be feeding them someone else's Elixir of Life. This special elixir is a useful thing that you'll get out of these aspirations. You can use the points you gained to buy stuff on the menu for that specific sim, and the thing you get will be accessible to all. But if their aspiration meter is low, the item will often have negative effects.

That's not very easy to explain. I tried my best.

The AI has also been enhanced since the first game, too. Your sims can easily fend for themselves. If they're hungry, they'll go and cook something (there's a variety of foods to choose from this time). If they need a bath, they'll take one. If they need fun, they'll find some way to entertain themselves. They know what they're doing, and you no longer have to play God the whole time, making you have more time to manage the other sims in your house. But, of course, if you have six or more sims, life at the house can get chaotic.

Of course, the same style of music as the original Sims is present here, some the new tunes being variations of the old. These are still fun to hear and add the necessary feel to the game. The graphics got an upgrade to a 3-D engine and look very detailed. This makes it much easier to tell your sims apart.

On the downside, pathfinding can still cause problems at times. Since the game is in 3-D, sometimes you can't tell exactly where something is positioned and your sims can't get to it. The game does a good job in specifying which direction an item should be placed, but you can't place them diagonally (you can place doors and windows on diagonal walls). The selection of items is sufficient, but more is needed because the original Sims game had more after its first expansion pack, Livin' Large. You'll be using the exact same items and decor in every house you build, because some of the wall coverings and floors aren't very pretty.

But this game boasts all the features of the original and then some. There are neighborhood lots like in Unleashed, although no pets other than the fish tank, and parties like in House Party. In addition, the maid, the mailman, the pizza person, the paperboy/girl, and any other serviceperson (there are a few different of each) are now sims as well and you can interact with them. You can even make friends with them, but you'll have to call the repair hotline if you need your dishwasher to be repaired. Also, meals are free from the fridge but you'll have to restock by ordering online or by phone or taking a taxi to Marvin's Mediocre Market (I built that place). You can buy new duds for your sims (instead of them having everything in the dresser) at a specific community lot, and your sims (but not you) can play actual EA games on the computer and game console (SSX3, The Sims [appropriately] and Sim City: Rush Hour). Kids and teens have homework like in real life, although I don't want to go there.

The Sims was a remarkable achievement, and The Sims 2 is an even bigger one. It took the first game and transformed it into something that's more fun and different every time. It's a more accurate simulation of real life than the first- you can have toddlers and experience how wild life is having one. It's just that the item selection isn't what it could be, but so what. This game will keep you occupied for quite a while- it's quite addictive. Having your sims meet new people and the different personalities colliding is much more involving than the first game. Don't get me wrong- The Sims is a great game. But The Sims 2 is a better one. It's well worth the what you have to pay. This game will keep you entertained for months. Go out and get it if your computer can handle it. A 9 out of 10.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/20/06


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